The longer, warmer days of spring are often the perfect background for lighter, more produce-centric meals. If you’re ready to feature the succulent sweetness of in-season fruits, you have plenty of options coming into season right now. Here are some ideas for your culinary inspiration:
“Chefs just love figs,” says Robert Schueller, director of public relations at Melissa’s Produce. “I think they’re drawn to the seasonality and the elegance of the flavor.” Black Mission and Brown Turkey figs are both grown domestically and will be in season through October. “They’re delicious straight up, stuffed with things like cheese or bacon or used in salads as a garnish.” Schueller notes that figs, which are members of the berry family, are highly perishable. “It takes some care to manage a fig inventory,” he says. “You want to receive them and start using them right away. It’s not an item that will stay in the walk in for a long time.”
June is peak season for domestic variety melons, with more than a dozen varieties to choose from. “If you’re getting tired of the same melon varieties playing ‘on repeat’ on your menu, this is a good time for you,” Schueller says. One of the more interesting new varieties is the orange-fleshed honeydew. “It’s a cross between a honeydew and a cantaloupe. It’s small, about the size of a softball, and it’s a single serving size.” Another in-season variety is Korean melon, which is oval and bright yellow on the outside. Inside, it has a sweet flavor that’s been described as a cross between a pear and a honeydew melon.
Domestic grape season starts in June and lasts until early September. “Not only are they more plentiful then, but they’re usually cheaper,” Schueller says. A variety he encourages chefs to try is the Moon Drop, which has a long, tubular shape that makes it a standout on a charcuterie board. Melissa’s Jelly Drops grapes are a hybrid of the popular Thompson Seedless grape and the rich, meaty Concord grape. “The flavor is similar to that of a Concord, but it’s mellowed by the mild sweetness of the Thompson,” Schueller says.
Schueller wraps up with a reminder that many tree fruits will be in season June and July. “Now is the time to seek out peaches, plums, nectarines and plumcots,” he says. He adds a quick prep tip about peaches as a final word on seasonal fruit: “The white-flesh peaches are sweeter, but they’ll fall apart in a pie, so use yellow-flesh varieties for cooking.”