By Erin McNelis
“A table, a chair, a bowl of fruit, and a violin; what else does a man need to be happy?” Albert Einstein
While most people might not have a violin, they can have that bowl of fruit, especially now that summer is here. Fruit, eaten in season from a local source, is especially healthful. Local fruit can be picked and enjoyed at the height of ripeness, which makes for optimal taste and nutritional content. Summer is also the perfect time to stock up for freezing, canning, or drying fruit to enjoy when the summer has ended.
Plant-based cooking instructor and nutrition educator Stefanie Dougherty says there is a good reason summer fruits are good for our bodies when nature makes them abundant.
“Packed with energy, vitamins, and nutrients, seasonal fruits are excellent fuel for our active summer lifestyles,” she says. “They’re refreshing because they keep us hydrated on sunnier summer days when temperatures rise and the days are longer.”
But what about all the sugar, you ask? Some diets advocate for the removal of all sugars, including the ones in fruit. Dougherty, who earned a certificate in plant-based nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies at Cornell University, suggests that the sugar in fruit isn’t usually a problem.
“When we consume whole fruits, with their complete package of fiber and other phytonutrients, there’s no need to be concerned about the fructose,” she assures. “Our bodies are equipped to process the fruit sugars efficiently when we eat them in their natural form. Indeed, only added sugars in processed foods contribute to weight gain and other health problems. Whole fruits are excellent for our health and vitality.”
Dougherty grew up in nearby Bucks County, where there is ample access to the best fruits summer has to offer. With the county’s agricultural history and present-day commitment to supporting local growers and food producers, farmers markets and farm stands are all close by and ready.
Tune in to when fruits ripen to know what to look for when. While exact harvest dates vary depending on weather from year to year, the following times are when you can start looking for your favorite fruits. There are also plenty of farms just outside Philadelphia that offer pick-your-own events.
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July: Cherries, blueberries, blackberries & raspberries
August: Plums, nectarines, cantaloupe, watermelons & peaches
Late August/September: Apples
Shady Brook Farm (Photo by Michelle Reese)
The following farms have pick-your-own times for these fruits as well as offerings in their markets. Always check with the farm before you go to make sure that the fruit you are looking for is available for picking and for any Covid-19 safety procedures the farm has in place.
Snipes Farm and Education Center (Morrisville)
The farm market is open Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon. Masks and social distancing are required. The farm sells blueberries, blackberries, watermelon, cantaloupe, and apples.
The Market at DelVal (Doylestown)
The market offers pick-your-own blackberries and raspberries July and Aug., peaches in Aug., and apples in Sept. The store also offers strawberries, plums, pluots, melons, pears, and nectarines. Curbside pickup is available through the website.
Shady Brook Farm (Yardley)
Blueberries in July, blackberries and peaches in August, and apples Aug.-Sept., Wednesday through Friday 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Sunday 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tickets must be purchased in advance, and please see shadybrookfarm.com for safe operating procedures before you go. They also have melons available at the store, and the market offers curbside pick-up through their website.
Solebury Orchards (New Hope)
Blueberries in July, blackberries in August, and apples Aug.-Oct. Thursday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. They also have items available for pick up including peaches and pears in mid-July and plums mid-August.
Maple Acres Farm and Market (Plymouth Meeting)
Maples Acres is open every day of the year except for Christmas! They’re currently offering pick-your-own blueberries, but they’re best known for their beautiful zinnias. You can also shop their market.
Linvilla Orchards (Media)
Linvilla offers pick-your-own daily from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., and the market is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. They grow a great variety of fruits and veggies, including peaches and blueberries (currently available in July), as well as raspberries, apricots, cherries, nectarines, pears, plums, grapes, apples and more.
Another excellent place to get the fruits of summer are area farmers markets. Click HERE for our 2020 Philadelphia County Farmers Market Guide.
Once you have the fruit, then what? Of course, nothing beats eating it fresh, from a bowl, like Einstein suggests. Store berries, cherries, and grapes in the refrigerator, and keep apricots, melons, nectarines, peaches, pears, and plums on the counter until ripe, and then move them to the fridge.
But if you are looking for more ideas on incorporating fruit into meals, Dougherty has got you covered.
“There are so many amazing, creative ways to enjoy summer fruits aside from snacking on a bowl of berries. Delicious fruit-centered dishes range from sweet to savory. Think of wholesome quick breads like blueberry pancakes and peach pecan muffins made with whole grains, or flavorful fruit salads with greens, nuts and seeds, a focaccia flatbread with fig, lemon, and arugula, or a refreshing bowl of grape sorbet for dessert, sweetened purely by the fruit itself.”
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