Welcome back to my monthly ‘what’s in season’ blog post series. Here is my August guide to seasonal produce in Illinois.
What’s in Season in Illinois in August?
This month’s post will be brief because August starts off looking a lot like last month at the farmers market. Early August is the peak for summer fruit and vegetable availability in Illinois.
Here is the full list of fruits that are in season in Illinois as we move into August. Click on each one to learn more about it.
Illinois Fruits in August
- Cherries (will be done this month)
- Honeydew Melons
- Plums, Nectarines and Apricots (new this month)
- Tart Apples (new this month)
Illinois Vegetables in August
- Sweet Corn
- Bell Peppers
- Green Beans
- Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cabbage, and Kale
- Zucchini and Squash
- Brussel Sprouts (new this month)
Toward the end of the month some early fall favorites begin arriving at local farm stands. This month we also say goodbye to cherries, one of my mid-summer favorites.
Watch out for some great deals in August.
For example, at my local farmers market you can currently buy a five pound box of blueberries for $25. Bring those blueberries home and follow my simple guide to freeze them. Capture the taste of summer and enjoy fresh local fruit all year.
Reminder to Choose Local
Research continues to prove how hard it is to lose weight. We don’t even need research to tell us its more difficult to keep it off.
It is time to move beyond calories and focus on the nutritional quality of the foods we eat.
You cannot get any more fresh, nutritious and high quality than local produce.
It’s been proven that nutrients begin breaking down soon after a food is picked. Farmers gather and pick their produce either the day before or morning of a farmers market.
By comparison, it takes several days for fruits and vegetables to reach your local grocery store. This is especially true in winter when they are coming from halfway around the world.
Health gurus all over the internet like to point out that our food supply is not as nutritious as it was 50 years ago. They site issues like top soil depletion, excessive use of chemicals, you know all the fancy buzz words.
Guess who cares about all of these issues?
Most small local farmers use organic growing methods that create healthy soil. They do not always become certified organic because the process is difficult and can be costly.
If you are curious, ask! Be sure to review this article so you can be confident you are supporting local farmers.
Let’s get to details for August.
Seasonal Produce in Illinois: August Fruit
Only a couple of new fruits will become available in August.
Plums, Nectarines and Apricots
Peaches are already available and will only get better as we move into August.
Plums, nectarines and apricots should arrive in the first week of August.
These fruits are collectively called stone fruits because of the hard pit in the center that contains the seed.
Most of the time when you buy stone fruits they will not yet be ripe. Fortunately all stone fruits continue to ripen after they are picked. Leave them in a bowl on your counter for a couple of days.
They are ripe when they yield to slight pressure.
Be sure to eat the peel. This advice actually applies to all fruits. The majority of the nutrients and about half of the fiber in fruit is in or under the skin.
Keep a close eye on peaches, plums, nectarines and apricots. They can go from delicious to rotten pretty fast. Then you end up with an unwanted fruit fly problem.
You can refrigerate ripe stone fruit but try and eat it within a day or two. The cold will ruin the quality and you will end up throwing it away.
The first apples of the season will appear in mid August. If you like sweet apples you are going to have to wait until next month, early season are usually pretty tart and best for baking.
With the right conditions apples can be stored for a long time. There have been years where I have seen apples at an early spring farmers market that have been stored over the winter and still taste great.
The key to storing apples is the temperature and humidity. You have to keep them in the fridge. Store them in the crisper draw with the humidity on high.
You can even put a damp paper towel in the bin to add more humidity. Apples will last for a month or longer when properly stored.
Seasonal Produce in Illinois: August Vegetables
Only one new vegetable arrival is expected this month.
No vegetable can elicit more grunts and groans in my nutrition classes than brussel sprouts. People remember growing up with mushy and gross steamed brussel sprouts and swear they will never try them again.
Two things can make you a believer. Dry heat and salt.
Buy brussel sprouts at the farmers market that are still on the stalk. This may seem a little silly as you are walking around with a giant tree branch but it helps ensure they are fresh.
To cook them here is what you do.
- Cut them off the stalk then slice each sprout in half.
- Toss to coat them in olive oil. Use 1-2 tablespoons.
- Arrange them on a foil lined sheet pan cut side down.
- Sprinkle liberally with salt.
- Roast for 20 minutes at 400 degrees.
- Don’t over cook them!
- They should be nice and crispy after 20 minutes.
- Remove and enjoy. Thank me later.
As promised we are getting out a little early today. August is the peak month for seasonal produce in Illinois and a lot produce carries over from last month.
From here it is a slow decline through fall when the berries and cherries start to go away but are replaced by many varieties of apples.
Remember to stock up on blueberries now while they are delicious and cheap and then freeze them!
Thanks for stopping by, enjoy the summer weather before it’s gone. Only another month until pumpkins and squash start to arrive, and in Illinois it’s all downhill from there.