How to get the most out of your summer produce

Charred stone fruit with bay leaf cream. Picture: Supplied

Charred stone fruit with bay leaf cream. Picture: Supplied

Published Nov 22, 2023


As the temperatures rise and you spend your days trying to cool down by the pool, do not forget about the bounty of summer produce arriving at your local farmers' market and grocery store.

Below, we share our favourite summer produce, exactly what is in season, and tips on how you can keep some of your summer fruits and vegetables fresh for a longer period of time.

What is in season this summer?

When thinking about summer produce, you might automatically think about enjoying fresh slices of watermelon by the pool; cutting ripe tomatoes and crunchy cucumbers to enjoy on top of local salad greens; or biting into sweet corn on the cob at picnics.

While these are truly summertime favourites, there is an abundance of other fresh, seasonal fruit and vegetable options available to explore.

Some of these include cherries, stone fruit, avocado, berries, summer squash, radishes, lemon, lettuce, arugula, beetroot, peppers, carrots, zucchini, and corn just to name a few.

Berries. Picture: Pexels.

Local farmers' markets, roadside stands, and farm shop produce sections are fully stocked with colourful options, all of which come together to make some of the best meals during the summer months.

But before we know it, summer will be over and we will have to say goodbye to this abundance of deliciousness. Luckily, there are a variety of ways to preserve produce so you can continue enjoying them throughout the year.

Fresh fruit and vegetables require different storage methods and can be stored for various lengths of time. Some fresh produce is of better quality when not refrigerated.

All storage areas should be clean and dry. Fruit and vegetables stored at room temperature should be in a cool, dry, pest-free, well-ventilated area separate from household chemicals.

There are a variety of ways to preserve produce. Picture: Pexels/Askar Abayev.

Here’s how you can keep some of your summer fruits and vegetables fresh for a longer period of time.

Lemons: Avoid cutting in half

If you need just a squeeze of citrus juice for your recipe or drink, puncture a whole lemon with a fork or skewer instead of cutting it in half.

This way, you can squeeze out what you need without drying out the entire lemon.


There is nothing quite like a juicy, sweet, in-season tomato, and for that reason, it is highly recommended you eat all you can while the getting’s good. But tomatoes also keep well when cooked down into a sauce.

If you are turned off by the idea of stirring a huge stockpot of sauce all day, you can simply simmer them down into an unseasoned tomato stew.

From there, you can either can or store it in zip-top bags in the freezer. If using the freezer method, store the bags flat on their sides until frozen completely.


Prepared a bit too much lettuce for your salad? Store leftover leaves in a bowl with a paper towel on top, then seal with plastic wrap.

The towel absorbs moisture, which is what turns leaves soggy and brown.

Replace the towel when it becomes damp. Another trick: Sprinkle the leaves with a dash of salt, which also helps draw out extra wetness.


If you are looking for a lower-sugar option, you can freeze your berries. To avoid a big clump of berries that must be thawed at once, freeze them in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet.

Once firm, transfer to zip-top bags and keep in the freezer. Use later in baked goods, smoothies, or oatmeal.

And if you are looking for inspiration, here is a quick recipe that you can try at home.

Charred stone fruit with bay leaf cream

Serves: 4


1 cup heavy cream

2 tbsp sugar

1 bay leaf

907g assorted stone fruits (nectarine, plum, peach), washed, halved, and pitted

Flaky sea salt, for garnish (optional)

Extra virgin olive oil, for garnish


Combine the cream, sugar, and bay leaf over medium heat; as soon as the mixture starts to bubble at the edges, remove from heat.

Cool to room temperature, then discard the bay leaf.

Wash the fruit, cut it in half, and remove the pits. Do not peel.

Heat a dry cast-iron skillet or grill pan on high heat. Place the halved fruit, cut sides down, on the hot surface.

Cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until you see the fruit begin to release moisture.

Lift carefully to check the char level. It should be dark brown, not black.

Remove each piece as soon as it is done. Meanwhile, pour the bay-infused cream into a mixing bowl; whisk just long enough to form soft peaks.

Arrange the fruit on a plate, and cut the sides up.

Sprinkle fruit with a pinch of the flaky salt, if using, and drizzle with a small amount of oil.

Add generous dollops of the softly whipped cream.

Serve warm.

Recipe by Trevor Knotts.