August produce isn’t looking a lot different from July, but that’s great news, since San Diego’s in peak season for some of our region’s best loved fruits and vegetables, including heirloom tomatoes, chili peppers, melons and corn.
My favorite, reed avocados, are strong this month at Stehly Farms Market. Stehly likes to pick them early, as they’ll ripen better off the tree, so take one home and wait until there’s just a little bit of give when you press the thin green skin before eating.
Heirloom tomatoes continue to flourish this month. Stehly sells them in packs, which include awesomely rich Cherokee purples, and milder golden jubilees. Rivas Farms out of Vista and San Marcos also offers cherokees, as well as the gold and red streaked pineapple tomatoes, and Brandywines — delicious and easy to spot with it streaky, pinkish skin.
The market stands for Suzie’s Farm carry most of these varieties, in addition to several others. Keep an eye out for red and orange stripes to try the tart red zebras; pear-shaped fruit with “green shoulders” indicates sweet and juicy red pears; and an oblong red with gold streaks are speckled romans — not super juicy, but great to eat raw or cook into sauce.
Suzies also adds more peppers, including sweet red ruffled pimientos. For a sweet pepper with plenty of burn, go for a cherry bomb — potentially big spice makes them great for roasting. Then there’s the Hungarian hot wax pepper: a long, thin fruit that eats well as it matures from yellow to red.
Like Suzies, Adam Maciel Organic Farm offers packaged mixes of multi-colored heirloom cherry tomatoes — which multiple sources tout as fantastic this year. Maciel also adds peppers this month, for the first time offering cayenne. They reportedly turned out great, so they’re likely to come back next year.
Maciel, Suzies, Stehly all have melons running through August, and Maciel’s selection includes Korean melons, also sometimes called a Japanese canteloupes. The sweet, oblong, striped yellow fruit is said to be similar in taste to a honeydew, with notes of pear and cucumber.
An especially great vegetable to eat local and fresh is sweet white corn. Stehly has an excellent, organic, non-GMO crop. If you hit a farmers market, look for corn from Rodney Kawano Farms. Kawano also has several heirloom tomato varieties including Japanese tomatoes, which has thick pinkish flesh with a little green around the stem, and a tangy, sweet taste.
Rodney Kawano Farms covers 10 acres in Oceanside and an additional 5 in Vista. Though not certified organic, it’s 100% non-GMO, doesn’t use Round Up, and organically enriches its soil. The third-generation farm deals mostly through farmers markets, hitting just about every major market in the county. (See their web site for a complete list). Strawberries and tomatoes are its biggest annual crops, but Rodney likes to try new produce each season and some that have stuck over the years include cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, spinach, kale and raspberries, which are in small supply, but tangy and sweet this month.