3 Ways to Make the Most of Summer Produce

Always clean fruits and vegetables to remove pesticides, wax and soil.

(StatePoint) Summer can be all too fleeting, but one of the best ways to ensure you make the most of the season is by enjoying the generous harvest of fruits and vegetables it brings.

Here are three simple ways to make the most of summer produce:

Get Produce at Its Peak

Produce tastes best when enjoyed during its peak season. Before shopping, check produce guides to see what’s at its peak near you. A few easy ways to be sure you’re getting the cream of the crop are to join a Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) group, visit a farmer’s market and to simply look for the local label at your supermarket. In a culinary rut? Because CSA members don’t always have the option of selecting the exact items they receive, a subscription is a particularly good idea for those with adventurous spirits looking to expand their horizons.

Be Safe

In your efforts to feed your family nutritious produce this summer, be mindful that many fruits and vegetables contain contaminants like pesticides, wax and soil on their outer layer. While independent studies show that washing produce with water or bleach solution still leaves behind large traces of pesticides, there is now a better way to protect your family.

With just a spray and rinse, Arm & Hammer’s Fruit & Vegetable Wash safely eliminates more than 90 percent of residue from the commonly used pesticide thiabendazole, when used as directed -- four times better than water alone. Made with pure and simple ingredients like Arm & Hammer baking soda, water, salt and lemon oil; and free of harsh chemicals, it’s easy to stock your kitchen with it and make it a part of meal prep. For more information, as well as cleaning tips, visit armandhammercleans.com.

Use it Up

Don’t let any produce go to waste. Here are five fun uses for fruit and vegetables:

• Fruit popsicles: Chop fruit into small chunks and mix with juice and even a bit of honey. Pour the mixture into a popsicle mold and freeze. You’ll have a delicious, healthful snack for later.

• Fruit or veggie kebabs: The grill is not just for burgers and dogs. Make veggie skewers using mushrooms, zucchini, green peppers and onions. For a light dessert, grill pears and peaches to be eaten on their own or topped with a bit of ice cream.

• Pesto: Go beyond the classic basil recipe to get creative with your pesto sauces. From cilantro to spinach to mint, many of summer’s richest green herbs and vegetables make great stand-ins.

• Cold soups: The weather may be hot, but that doesn’t mean you need to put soup on the back burner -- or any burner at all. From gazpacho to borscht served chilled, you can cool down with soup this summer.

• Preserves: Certain fruits -- such as strawberries -- can technically be found any time of year, but are absolutely unparalleled in summer. Capture that magic for the months ahead by turning your favorite fruits into jams.

With a bit of planning, you can thoroughly enjoy the vast array of fruits and vegetables harvested during the summer months.

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