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Summer is the season for fresh eating

FINGER LAKES—You know that just-picked flavor of a summer tomato? Fresh off the vine, snuggled next to a hearty chunk of mozzarella, topped with a sun-kissed sprig of basil and drizzled with balsamic, the summer tomato explodes with vitality compared to its winter cousin.
The summer tomato is just one example of how eating with the seasons can add an extra delight to your meals. The same distinction between the summer and winter tomato exists in other vegetables, often where you least expect it. The predictable staple potato tickles your taste buds with subtle earthy and distinctive flavors when harvested the morning before you cook it. A salad made with a selection of fresh-picked greens becomes far more than a textured background for a clever dressing. In fact, skip the dressing and enjoy delicate flavor differences in each bite.
Luckily it is summer and you can take advantage of the seasonal bounty every week.
Local broccoli is joining the piles of kale, new onions and rainbow chard on the market tables. Corn and tomatoes are just around the corner. Strawberry season is almost done and soon we will see raspberries and blueberries at the farmers market and roadside stands. Or pick your berries yourself for the ultimate fresh experience. It is a great way to stretch your berry budget as well. When you buy local produce in season, you are buying it at its freshest and its lowest cost. If you freeze some of what you buy in season you are still ahead of the game.
Freezing certain items couldn’t be easier. Freeze your berries on cooking trays before you bag them and you’ll be able to pour out any quantity you want when you go to use them instead of being presented with a large frozen mass. When you cook your corn for dinner, throw in a few extra ears. Then slice off the kernels and freeze to use on some winter day when you can use some “bottled sunshine.” When local green beans make their appearance, buy them buy the bucketful. Lightly blanch them and serve some for dinner and freeze the rest. And back to that wonderful summer tomato. When tomato season hits sometimes there are just too many tomatoes around, so capture the goodness to make a comforting sauce during the darker months. Romas freeze particularly well and you can do it by just popping them into a bag whole. No slicing! Or you can make a fresh salsa and freeze that.
To take advantage of all this summer goodness you just need to find some local sources for fresh-grown, fresh-picked food. There are plenty of roadside stands in this area and for a wider variety you visit one of the farmers markets in the area. It’s the season of fresh!

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