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Seasonal Produce Guide: What to Buy in August

Here's what you should pick up from the latest crop of warm-weather darlings, plus how to make the most of your luscious bounty.

Associate Digital Food Editor
Late summer produce: eggplants, melons, figs, string beans
Photography by: Johnny Miller

By this point in the summer, it's an embarrassment of riches at the market. String beans, tomatoes, berriesstone fruit, and more are all still in play, but there are a bunch of newcomers to welcome. Juicy melons and delicate figs add intrigue on the sweet side of the spectrum, while zucchini, eggplant, tomatillos, and all kinds of chile peppers allow us to expand our savory repertoire. Here's what you need to know about our favorite late-summer bloomers.

 

Related: Make the Most of Your Farmers' Market Produce with These Storage Tips

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Photography by: Ryan K Liebe

Summer Melons

It's prime-time for watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, and more! Get to know all the delicious varieties, then follow our guide on how to choose the perfect ripe melon. Once you've lugged one home, try making a savory melon appetizer, blending up these colorful Melon Milk Pops, or mixing our new favorite White Tea Melonade (trust us, frosé will be a thing of the past once you have a sip of this!). Sweet, cold, juicy—summer melon is a treat no matter how you prepare it.

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Figs

One of our favorite splurges at the market! While dried figs have their place in the winter, there's nothing like biting into a fresh, ripe fig. Both the purple-black Mission and pale-green Calimyrna varieties peak in summer and are available through early fall. Fold figs into your morning yogurt, pair them with peppery salad greens, serve them on your next cheese plate with a drizzle of honey, or cook them with port into a rich sauce. Don't forget dessert: let figs shine in a tart, crostata, or even ice cream.

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Photography by: Marcus Nilsson

Eggplant

While we're certainly fans of the ubiquitous globe eggplant, we encourage you to expand your nightshade horizons with our eggplant glossary! Try the smaller, less bitter Italian and graffiti varieties, tender, sweet Chinese eggplants (also known as Japanese eggplants), or firm, quick-cooking Thai eggplants. You can't go wrong with any of these colorful vegetables, plus they couldn't be more versatile—eggplants are wonderful grilled, roasted, broiledstewed, steamed, or fried.

Tomatillos
Photography by: Ryan Benyi Photography/Getty Images

Tomatillos

In spite of their name and appearance, tomatillos are only distantly related to tomatoes and are actually much closer to Cape gooseberries. The small green-tomato look-alikes encased in paper-thin husks are most abundant in summer, so now is the best time to experiment! When raw, they have a distinctive tangy-citrusy flavor that brightens any salsa. They're also great cooked, adding depth to savory stews and sauces.

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Photography by: Marcus Nilsson

Chile Peppers

While you can get peppers year-round, chile peppers are most plentiful in the summer, so get ready to play with fire in the kitchen. In general, size and heat go hand in hand: Larger varieties tend to be milder, while small, pointy peppers deliver more burn. Learn about  the different heat levels in our chile pepper guide, then spice up everything from sauces and soups to pastas and vegetable dishes.

zucchini 30 days
Photography by: Spencer Staats

Zucchini

We love zucchini so much that we could eat it any day of the week. We're always happy to find ourselves with a bumper crop on our hands because there are so many delectable ways to eat the tender, subtly sweet vegetable. When raw, zucchini is an excellent partner for summery herbs and citrus. When roasted or baked into a bread or cake, the squash takes on a nuttiness that's enhanced beautifully by a multitude of spices. Try grating zucchini before cooking for a different texture, tucking it into casseroles, or teaming it with two essential pantry ingredients, garlic and Parmesan.