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Summer Vegetable Guide

How to choose the best vegetables for the summer season.

Cucumbers continued...

Shopping Tips: The most common cucumbers are the English or European greenhouse cucumber, often sheathed in plastic wrap to protect its very thin skin, and the American slicing cucumber, which has a slightly thicker skin and more seeds.

Don’t overlook other varieties like the pickling cucumber (a.k.a. kirby) and Middle Eastern slicer. There’s even a "burpless" variety of cuke.

Whichever variety you choose, be sure to select firm cucumbers that feel heavy for their size.

Avoid those that have any yellow on them or have soft or wrinkled spots at the ends, a sign of improper storage.

Storage Tip: Store cucumbers in a ventilated plastic bag in the crisper of your refrigerator.


Known as a "love-apple" in its early history, the summer tomato is worthy of the name. Bursting with nutrients, loaded with flavor—what’s not to love?

What You Get: A medium-size fresh tomato is an excellent source of vitamins A and C—and if you eat them in season, you’ll get twice as much vitamin C as at other times of the year. Tomatoes also contain the carotenoid lycopene (this is what makes tomatoes red), which helps prevent some types of cancer, particularly prostate cancer.

Shopping Tips: Bite-size cherry and grape tomatoes are delicious in salads or for snacking.

Roma, or plum, tomatoes have fewer seeds than other varieties and are good for making sauces and other cooked dishes.

Plain "supermarket reds" are versatile for cooking and for using raw.

Heirloom tomatoes—grown from older seed varieties—are cultivated for their flavor and texture. Unlike mass-market varieties—bred for consistent looks and durability—heirlooms come in all shapes, sizes and colors.

Buy tomatoes as close to home as possible.

Look for those that are plump and shiny and give slightly when pressed; smell the stem end for that distinctive, sweetly acidic aroma.

Storage Tip: Refrigeration destroys the flavor of tomatoes; free them from any packaging and store at a cool room temperature, away from sunlight.


Whether you’re growing your own or buying them at the store, zucchini are plentiful in the summer. Small-to-medium zucchini are most tender—use those for sautéing, grilling or eating raw. The big ones are starchier—save those to make stuffed zucchini.

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