There’s so much to love about summer: The warm weather, the long days, and let’s not forget all the mouth-watering, fresh produce. While the grocery store may feel convenient, what's better than stopping by your local market for garden-fresh vegetables to whip up a salad or throw on the grill? And don't forget to grab some fresh berries for dessert!

It’s not only delicious and healthy, you’re also supporting local growers. Once you taste the difference between grocery store and homegrown, hand-selected produce, you’ll be sure to add farmer’s market visits to your weekly routine.

Summer crops bring an array of colours, aromas, and flavours. To ensure you get the most out of your fresh bounty, these helpful tips will have you savouring every bite.

Get the most out of popular summer veggies

Beans: Whether yellow or green, you want beans to snap crisply when bent and have no brown spots. If you don’t plan to eat them right away, store unwashed beans in a reusable container in your fridge’s crisper drawer. They’re a good source of folacin (a type of Vitamin B) and Vitamin C.

Corn:  There’s nothing quite like a good feed of summer corn, but how can you ensure you’re selecting the sweetest cobs? Look for bright green, tightly-wrapped husks with tassels (the hair that sticks out of the top) that are brown and sticky. It’s best to consume corn immediately, but it will keep for one to two days. Just be sure to keep the husks on and keep them in a cool place. Corn is a good source of folate, Vitamin C, niacin, thiamine, and fibre.  

Cucumbers: The best cucumbers are firm with dark green skin, and no blemishes, yellow or soft spots. Keep them refrigerated, and try to consume within four or five days. Cucumbers are a good source of Vitamin C.

Tomatoes: There are many colourful varieties, such as beefsteak, cherry, Roma, and heirloom. No matter your choice, be sure they’re fragrant. The best tomatoes will feel firm and slightly heavy. To preserve this beautiful fruit (not actually a veg!), store them at room temperature and out of direct sunlight. Tomatoes are a good source of Vitamin C, Vitamin A and folacin. 

Zucchini: Yellow or green, you can’t go wrong with this summer squash. Look for small to medium-sized zucchini, firm and free of nicks and cuts. They are best kept refrigerated in an open-ended bag. Do not wash until ready to use. They are a source of Vitamin A and C, and fibre.

Get the most out of popular summer fruit

Blueberries: Ripe blueberries are plump and deep blue with a dusting of gray on the surface. Don’t wash until you’re ready to use them. Pick through the container, tossing any bruised or moldy ones. They are among the most nutrient-dense berries, full of antioxidants, Vitamin C and K, manganese and fibre.

Nectarines, peaches, and plums: Look for firm fruit that has a sweet smell. Keep them on the counter until fully ripe, then place in the fridge. They’re best eaten within a few days and are good source of Vitamin C.

Strawberries: Look for bright red, fragrant berries. Ensure they are free of mold and bruises, and do not wash until they’re ready to be eaten. They are an excellent source of Vitamin C, potassium, and fibre.

Raspberries: Pick raspberries gently, as they’re the most fragile of all berries. When buying them, look for firm, dry fruit. Avoid overly soft berries or those with any trace of mildew. Raspberries are very perishable so they must be refrigerated and consumed as quickly as possible. They’re a good source of Vitamin C and A, and fibre.

Watermelon: There are a few tricks to selecting a good watermelon. Look for the flattest area of the melon – if it’s yellow, it’s ripe. Another tactic is to knock on it – a ripe one will have a deep, hollow sound. Watermelons are a good source of Vitamin C.

Summer is short – be sure to take advantage all of the beautiful bounty it has to offer. And for great ideas on how to best enjoy their deliciousness, you’ll find tasty and healthy recipes here.