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How to choose and use tomatoes, corn and peaches — the stars of summer

(Scott Suchman for The Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post)
(Scott Suchman for The Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post)

Summer produce rolls in so prolifically, seemingly all at once, that I am more than a little greedy for it. A wagon originally given to me to cart around my large toddler is now devoted to carting around an even larger farmers market haul. Every weekend, my red wagon bounces along the sidewalk back to my house full of promise and enticing aromas.

Sometimes I know exactly what I’m going to do with the cornucopia of peaches, corn, tomatoes, zucchini, peppers and more. Sometimes I don’t. What I do know is I don’t want a single bit of it to go to waste. I want to enjoy every last bite because I know the pleasures of summer fruit and vegetables are available for only a limited time.

To help you, too, with all of the season’s treasures, we’ve compiled many tips and recipes over the years here at Voraciously. Today, I’m sharing highlights that cover three stars of summer: tomatoes, corn and peaches.


Hot tip: Yes, you can refrigerate tomatoes! It’s okay! The caveat: Make sure the tomatoes are fully ripe, and put them in the fridge for no more than 3 days. There will be very little loss of flavor in that short period, and the texture won’t suffer either. For optimum flavor, bring the tomatoes back up to room temperature for 1 hour to 1 day. Read the full story here. More advice:

Recipe spotlight: Does it get any simpler or more satisfying than Classic Southern Tomato Sandwiches? All you need is mayo, bread, salt, pepper and, of course, really good tomatoes, preferably heirloom.

Channel a deli favorite with my Everything Tomato Tart, which features the spice blend in the crust and topping, plus a no-cook cream cheese filling.


Hot tip: Instead of peeling back everything for sale at the farmers market, pick your corn by looking for husks that are mostly bright green, silks that are not too dried out and ears that are heavy for their size. More advice:

  • Steaming in the microwave is the easiest method for shucking corn. Run under water, microwave on high for 2 minutes, let cool slightly and then cut the stalk end off through the first row of kernels. Hold by the silk end and push or shake out the ear — no silks.
  • If you’re grilling corn, shuck them and steam them in foil with a few ice cubes over high heat for 20 to 25 minutes. Then remove them from the foil and cook them on the grate, turning every 2 minutes until you get your desired color and smokiness.
  • Raw summer corn is just as delightful as cooked. It’s especially lovely in salad, where its sweet, juicy texture will play well against other ingredients that are crunchy, creamy or spicy.

Recipe spotlight: You may not always want or need nachos for dinner, but Corn, Radish, Tomato and Tortilla Chip Salad captures some of the spirit of the party food in a lighter, brighter package.

For a sweet and spicy contrast, try Corn and Chorizo Tacos, a fast and fun skillet meal.


Hot tip: Peel peaches by blanching them in boiling water for 30 seconds, then remove and let them cool for a few minutes. The skins should slip right off with a paring knife. More advice:

Recipe spotlight: A last-second run under the broiler softens the fruit and melts the cheese in these French-inspired Peach, Blue Cheese and Chicken Tartines.

For a refreshing summer sipper, try White Sangria With Peaches and Raspberries.