Hot summer days call for seasonal fruits: a cold slice of watermelon by the pool, a bowl of cherries at a picnic, or blueberry pie a’la mode for a summer dessert. Fruits are the food of summer and we discovered a few fun facts about and recipes for nature’s seasonal delights!
Stone fruits include peaches, nectarines, plums, cherries, and apricots–basically any fruit that has a hard pit, or seed, in the middle is considered a stone fruit. In 1565 the first peach orchard was grown in Florida, but Colorado has since made its own name in the industry. Thanks to Colorado’s Palisade region, known as the state’s peach capital, we have access to some the sweetest, juiciest peaches, apricots, cherries, and plums. Palisade peaches are so delectable that they have been served both at the White House and Buckingham Palace. The long frost-free summers along with high elevation, volcanic soil, run-off mountain water, and lots of sun create a higher and sweeter sugar content for the peaches and other stone fruits grown in the region. Another summer favorite stone fruit, the dainty cherry, grows well in Colorado, but most cherry orchards are found in Washington, Oregon, California, and Michigan. Cherries always seem to cost a pretty penny, and have been long known to be a prized culinary item. The honey golden Rainier Cherry (Washington) explains their hefty price tag as the local birds leave little picking from most of the yearly crop.
The tart jewels of summer are berries. Berry’s versatile flavors make them a summery addition to most any dish–or cocktail! Strawberries, relatives to the rose, are the only fruit with seeds on the outside. Most strawberries (and other berries) found in the supermarket are grown in California, in fact if all the strawberries grown in California were laid side by side, they would circle the globe fifteen times! Blueberries are the quintessential American fruit. The Native Americans once called them “star berries,” because the five points of blueberry blossoms make a star shape. They were also used to make dyes and for medical purposes by the Native Americans and early settlers. Today, Michigan takes the reigns on blueberry production, producing over 100 million pounds per year. Blueberries have become one of the healthiest fruit staples to our diets year-round, but Colorado blueberries, found at farmers markets, usually hit their peak in June and July.
What is a summer without pink, juicy watermelon? With up to 92% of watermelon’s content being, you guessed it, water, it makes sense that it has become a go-to fruit for hot summers. It is said that the average person will eat up to fifteen pounds a year of this cousin to cucumbers, pumpkins and squash, which technically, makes watermelon a vegetable! The large melon has been used by early explores as a canteen and is one of the world’s most popular foods, growing in over ninety-six countries; over 1,200 varieties of watermelon are grown worldwide. The leading US producers are Florida and Georgia, where watermelons thrive in the sandy soil. Colorado grows local watermelon in the ideal conditions of our Palisade region–look for local watermelon farmers markets. The peak season for watermelon is May through August. Indulge in watermelon all you’d like, as this ideal health food is high in fiber and vitamins A & C and is a good source of potassium.