Restaurant News & Reviews

Enjoy the delicious rewards of the Northwest’s summer fruits

Here's how to find the perfect watermelon

Dave Sands, produce manager of the Community Food Co-op in downtown Bellingham, Wash., shows what to look for in a watermelon.
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Dave Sands, produce manager of the Community Food Co-op in downtown Bellingham, Wash., shows what to look for in a watermelon.

Among summer’s true pleasures is the bounty of fresh fruit from Northwest farms and orchards.

“Right now, and over the next few weeks, all these exciting Washington fruits are coming in,” said Russell Duncan, assistant produce manager at the Community Food Co-op’s downtown market.

Customers are snapping up the blueberries from Hopewell Farm in Everson, with some 500 two-pound cartons sold the last week of June, he said. Rainier cherries were the top seller that week, and they should be around for a few more weeks. “I’ve made a cherry salsa that’s super good on halibut,” Duncan said.

Duncan is looking forward to several varieties of peaches that are due in the coming weeks, including the donut (or Saturn) peach, which is shaped a bit like a mini-pumpkin.

“They’re flat and squished like a pug that has run into a wall,” he said. Duncan’s favorite way to enjoy peaches is a quick turn on the grill to caramelize the sugars and produce a burst of flavor and maybe adding a splash of balsamic vinegar. Peach smoothies are out, he said.

“Either raw or grilled is the way to go. I like to chew my food – I’m not a smoothie guy,” he said.

Following are favorite summer fruits, as reflected in replies from Herald readers to social media posts:

Cherries

“Cherries! I live in Sudden Valley but had a tree in my last house in the Columbia neighborhood,” wrote Helen Nickerson. “So yummy for baking – makes everyone happy.”

Apricots

“Two things taste of summer to me, apricots and watermelon,” wrote Alma Alexander of Sudden Valley. “I can’t get enough of either in season. And I have been known to eat an entire bowl of cherries at a sitting, too (smiley face).”

Watermelon

Several Herald readers wrote to share their love of watermelon – that delicate, yet crisp and watery treat that refreshes the palate on a sultry afternoon.

“We start seeing (local watermelon) around early to mid-August, but it depends on the weather,” Duncan said. He said a good watermelon will seem heavy for its size, indicating a high water content. The Co-op’s website has this recipe for a watermelon salad: strongertogether.coop/recipes/mojito-watermelon-salad.

Blackberries

“Blackberries!” cries Janet Andrews of Sudden Valley. “I lived in Oregon for three years and unwillingly had to move. The one overriding memory of my time in Oregon was the wild blackberries. I ... look forward to blackberry season in an almost spiritual way.”

Figs

“I eat figs, both mission and Turkish, as candy primarily,” says Suzanne Blangsted of Sudden Valley. “I sometimes bake the fresh mission figs when I can get them at the store (cut in half lengthwise, drizzled with olive oil and baked at 400 for 20 minutes and eat with crème fraîche) – I use the dried ones for baking in my breads or cooked in my Mediterranean dishes. Figs are the best form of nutrition that I know of.”

Robert Mittendorf: 360-756-2805, rmittendorf@bhamherald.com, @bhamMitty

Is it ripe?

▪  A watermelon should be heavy for its size, indicating good water content.

▪  It should be uniformly firm.

▪  Its rind should have a yellow – not white – “field spot,” where it rested on the ground.

▪  Watermelon won’t ripen after it’s picked.

Source: Community Food Co-op

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