A seasonal produce guide for the month of July, with tips on how to choose, store and prepare each ingredient! Plus, multiple recipes included for all 8 produce items!
It’s July, and while all the produce in Ohio is either barely alive from a non-existent Spring or currently drowning in a non-existent Summer, we are still managing to get a trickle of some fresh July produce into our stores around here! I try not to repeat produce as much as possible in these guides, but sometimes it can be a challenge with what my local stores have to offer so we have a few familiar faces again this month!
These monthly seasonal produce guides are designed to help you determine exactly what foods are currently in season, how to choose them and store them, as well as give you some great recipe ideas from fellow food bloggers that incorporate these seasonal finds!
Eating seasonally will help you save money while increasing the amount of flavor and nutrients you are obtaining from your food. So let’s dig into our July Seasonal Produce Guide!
We always have basil growing on our patio because it is so much cheaper than buying it at the grocery store every time we need it! And with being married to an Italian, we need it a lot. Although to be honest, I’m probably more obsessed with basil than he is! I love it on sandwiches and flatbreads, in pasta, or even chopped up in bruschetta for a quick snack! My favorite recipe with basil is this marinated cheese…it is a PERFECT summer party appetizer! (Or any season, really!)
How to choose basil:
- Choose basil with vibrant green leaves.
- Avoid any basil that shows signs of decay or dark spots.
- If purchasing packaged basil, check for signs of mold or any brown/slimy areas that would be a sign of old leaves.
How to store basil:
- Store loose leaves in the refrigerator layered in a damp paper towel inside of a plastic bag for up to 4 days.
- If the leaves are still attached, store in the refrigerator in a glass of water covered with a plastic bag. Change the water daily and use within 1 week.
How to prepare basil:
Bell peppers are another vegetable that are constantly in our house. We eat them raw, roasted, grilled, smoked, stuffed, and sauteéd. I love the versatility of a bell pepper and that you can make an entire meal out of one by stuffing them with all your favorite ingredients! These Chicken Philly Stuffed Peppers are one of my personal favorites! 🙂
How to choose bell peppers:
- Choose peppers that are firm and glossy and have a deep, vivid color.
- Choose peppers that feel heavy for their size. They should be firm but give slightly when pressed.
- The stems should be fresh and bright green in color.
- Avoid peppers that have any wrinkles, sunken areas, cuts, dark spots or soft spots.
- If you want to eat the pepper raw, choose a female pepper (one with 4 points on the bottom). Although it will have more seeds, the flesh will be sweeter than a male pepper (one with 3 points on the bottom).
How to store bell peppers:
- Store in the refrigerator next to a damp cloth to help keep the pepper hydrated for up to 10 days.
- Store any unripe peppers at 65-70 degrees F for 2 weeks until ripe.
How to prepare bell peppers:
I’ll be honest, I’m not a huge fan of blackberries unless they’re in martini form. I don’t love their texture and really won’t eat them unless they’re tucked away inside a fruit salad. I’d be willing to give them a try in these delicious-sounding recipes I’ve got from my fellow food bloggers below, though! 🙂
How to choose blackberries:
- Choose blackberries that are a uniform deep purple to black color. Avoid any with green or white patches.
- Choose blackberries that are firm, plump and dry.
- Avoid any blackberry containers that show signs of mold, staining or have any crushed berries on the bottom.
How to store blackberries:
- Store unwashed and loosely covered in a single layer in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- Discard any molding berries to prevent contamination of the others.
How to prepare blackberries:
Sweet corn in the summer is a staple to us, like fireworks on the 4th of July or a BBQ brother drinking a beer while grilling, so it’s only natural that it would pop up during our July produce guide!
How to choose corn:
- The tassels should be brown and sticky. If they’re black or dried out, it is a sign of old corn.
- Choose corn with a bright green and tightly wrapped husk. Avoid any that are yellowing or starting to feel dry.
- Avoid any corn with small brown holes towards the top of the husk, which would be a sign of worm damage.
- Feel for kernels through the husk and avoid any with missing kernels or soft spots. Avoid peeling back the husk to check for color or missing kernels, as this will shorten the shelf life of the corn. If you’re going to be eating it immediately, feel free to pull the husk back and check for bright, yellow kernels.
How to store corn:
- Store on the countertop if you’re going to be eating within a few hours. Otherwise, store tightly sealed in a plastic bag in the refrigerator crisper drawer with husks still on.
How to prepare corn:
I feel like eggplants are the manatees of the produce community. Like they’re always there just lurking in the background, casually and massively doing their thing, not bothering anyone, but probably have been through some things. I also feel like I can never see them even though they’re always RIGHT in front of my face, and once you see them you feel like an idiot for having to have someone point them out to you for 3 minutes…
How to choose eggplant:
- Choose eggplants that are heavy for their size. Smaller eggplants tend to be sweeter, have thinner skin, and less seeds.
- Choose eggplants that are uniform in color with smooth, shiny skin.
- A ripe eggplant will leave a slight imprint when pressed but will bounce back. If the imprint remains, the eggplant is old.
- Avoid any with wrinkles, blemishes, or bruises.
- The stem should be green, not brown or dried out, which is a sign of decay.
How to store eggplant:
- Eggplants are best to be used within 1 day of purchasing but can be refrigerated for up to 5 days. Store wrapped in a paper towel in a perforated plastic bag to help prevent bruising.
How to prepare eggplant:
Back for my May Seasonal Produce Guide, I was over-the-moon ecstatic in my grocery store to find the LAST, slightly moldy peach to use for photographing my guide. I photographed it and then I immediately threw it in the trash. This month, I’ve got plump, fresh, straight from The Peach Truck peaches to photograph (and immediately devour) that my mom and sister picked up at our local winery while they were in town! 🙂
How to choose peaches:
- Choose peaches with vibrant colors and a fragrant smell.
- Choose peaches that give a little when pressed. This is a sign that they are ripe and ready to be eaten. If they are still firm, they will need a few days to ripen.
- Avoid peaches with a green tinge to their color or any with bruises, scratches, flat areas, or mold.
How to store peaches:
- Store on your countertop shoulder (stem) side down in a single layer to prevent bruising.
- If the peaches start to ripen before you get to eat them, you can put them in the refrigerator for a few days to slow down the ripening process. Just be sure to eat them before they start to wrinkle and dry out!
How to prepare peaches:
Yay plums! I love a good plum! I’ve been waiting for these to be in season in my stores for the last 2 months! Every time I go in there’s just 2 or 3 soft, moldy plums sitting in a corner together so I’m happy we’ve finally reached prime plum season so I can indulge and share them with you! 🙂
How to choose plums:
- Choose plums that are plump and yield gently to pressure, which is a sign of ripeness.
- Choose plums with a dark, even color.
- They can be slightly soft at the stem and tip, but avoid any that are shriveled or have soft spots or breaks.
How to store plums:
- Ripe plums can be stored in the refrigerator for 1-3 days.
- Harder plums can be placed in a loosely closed paper bag at room temperature for 1-2 days until soft then moved to the refrigerator. This will soften the fruit but will not make them any sweeter.
How to prepare plums:
Guess who’s back…..back again. You can thank Andrew for this repeat! As I stood in the grocery store realizing I was too early for Ohio tomato season we discussed which produce item I should do for July instead of tomatoes and Andrew said “I always like zucchini” so zucchini it was! (It also helped that I had a recipe in mind for eggplant sandwiches that I needed a zucchini for so it was a two for one deal!)
How to choose zucchini:
- Choose zucchini that is about 6-8 inches in length and relatively thin.
- Choose zucchini that is heavy for its size and has a shiny, dark green, smooth skin. The color should be uniform and bright and the ends should be firm and green.
- Avoid zucchini that has blemishes, bruises, soft spots or looks shriveled.
How to store zucchini:
- Store unwashed and whole in a breathable plastic or paper bag in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- Leave one end of the bag open to allow for air circulation to prevent aging.
How to prepare zucchini:
That’s it!! I hope you enjoyed this month’s produce guide! Check back next month for a new guide, or sign up for our email list so you’ll receive it right to your inbox! (Along with some yummy recipes! 🙂 )
And remember if you’re a food blogger to focus on these ingredients for your recipes and pins this month! Check out my July Pinterest Trends and Tips for Food Bloggers if you need more Pinterest tips! 🙂