Edibles & Herbs

Summer Harvest: Cucumbers

Check your cucumbers daily and harvest early. And if you're harvesting for pickling, make that even earlier! Remember that timing and length will vary with variety but overall, cucumbers are fast growers. 

The fruit should be firm and smooth. Over-ripe cucumbers can be very bitter or pithy, even before they start to turn yellow. If you're noticing a yellowed bottom on your cucumber, it's a sign that it's over-ripe so remove immediately. When cutting off the vine, use a knife or clippers and cut above the stem. Pulling may damage the vine. 


Harvested cucumbers keep for up to 10 days in the refrigerator but use them ASAP for best flavor. (Keep reading for the perfect 2-step recipe to incorporate your harvest in!) The more you harvest off the vine, the more fruit you'll get. So get harvesting! 



Source:  Evan Bloom and Leo Beckerman, Wise Sons Jewish Delicatessen. This recipe was demonstrated for CUESA’s Market to Table program on July 19, 2014.

Serves 6 to 8


6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons good quality olive oil
3 tablespoons plain yogurt
2 cloves garlic, smashed
2 lemon cucumbers, quartered and sliced
1 serpent cucumber, sliced
3 tablespoons chopped basil leaves
1/8teaspoon salt
1/8teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


1. In a small bowl, mix the lemon juice, olive oil, and yogurt with the
smashed garlic.
2. Add the cucumbers, basil, salt and pepper. Toss and serve. 


Summer Harvest: Corn

Normally sweet corn is ready for harvest about 17 –24 days after the first silk strands appear. This can occur more quickly in hot weather and more slowly in cool weather.


Harvest corn when the husks are still green, silks are dry brown, and kernels are full sized and yellow or white in color to the very tip of the ear. Experienced gardeners can feel the outside of the husk and tell when the cob has filled out. Harvest corn at the “milk stage”, use your thumbnail to puncture a kernel. If the liquid is clear, the corn is immature, if it’s milky, it’s ready, and if there is no sap, you too late.

And here's the best tip in the game: Cover unharvested ears checked by this method with a paper bag to prevent insect or bird damage! 

Picturesque corn stalks - save them for fall decorating! 

Picturesque corn stalks - save them for fall decorating! 

For corn that you'll be storing for a day or two, pick in the cool temperatures of early morning to prevent the ears from building up an excess of field heat, which causes a more rapid conversion of sugars to starch.  

The best time to pick is just before eating the corn; country cooks say to have the pot of water coming to a boil as you are picking the corn, husking it on the way from the garden to the house! This is an exaggeration, but with standard varieties, sugar conversion to starch is rather rapid.  

For any corn picked in the midday sun - plunge the ears in cold water or put them on ice for a short time to guard against the effects of field heat. Then, just store it in the refrigerator until you're ready to eat! 

Extra-sweet varieties will also benefit from this treatment, but they are not as finicky because they have a higher sugar content and they hold their sweetness longer.  The conversion of sugars to starch is also not as rapid in the newer super sweet types.

Now that you know how to harvest your garden-fresh corn, let's get cooking...

Fresh Corn Soup with Poblano Chile


2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion minced
1 medium carrot, minced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
4 cups corn kernels, about 6 ears
4 cups low sodium vegetable stock
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 poblano chiles, roasted, skinned, and chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped
I left out the 1 ounce of queso fresco or feta cheese whisked with 1-2 tablespoons of milk.


Heat oil in a large pot.  Sweat the onions covered for about 5 minutes.  Add carrots, cover, and cook another five minutes.  Add garlic, dried herbs, cayenne, and cook covered another couple minutes.  Add corn, season with salt, cover then cook another five minutes.  Add vegetable stock, bring to a boil, cover and remove from the heat.  Puree in a blender then strain through a fine mesh sieve.  (Be sure to have a pot under the strainer to catch the soup ---- I have made this mistake before and don't want you to).  Return soup to the big pot and season to taste.

I roasted the poblanos directly over the flame of the gas stove until they were blackened, put them in a ziploc bag to steam for awhile, then could easily remove the skins.

Ladle the soup into bowls.  Stir in the poblanos and cilantro and serve. 

This recipe is from the website of Kaiser Permanente, Food for Health, Recipes for Life.

From The Orchard: Stone Fruit

We're getting close to that time...the annual harvest! Read on for tips on timing and best practices when harvesting peaches, pluots, plums and nectarines! And hey, this might even help when picking out fresh stone fruit from the grocery!



Peaches and nectarines are best when tree ripened, meaning when they're at that perfect point to pluck them off the tree and take that first juicy bite. 

Peaches ripen from the bottom up toward the stem and from the smooth side toward the split side, so giving them a feel on the upper "shoulder" closets to the split will tell you if a peach is ripe. If it gives a little, it's ready. If it's feeling a little firm - give it a day or two. There should be no green on the fruit and it should come off the branch with a slight twist.

Aim for harvesting while still a little firm because as we all know, soft peaches don't store well! But an overload of fresh fruit is always a great excuse to get cooking! Check out this recipe for Roasted Stone Fruit with Shortcake.  



Plums usually ripen between July and October. Alike peaches and nectarines, they ripen best on the tree. Ripe plums should come off the tree easily with a lift and slight twist. If you are planning to dry the plums, you can let them fall from the tree naturally, but check often as ripe fruits attract pests. Here are some delicious recipes to enjoy your harvest.

Overwhelmed with your harvest? We have the perfect solution...

stone fruit simple syrup.jpg


Perfect for your sangria, sweet tea and other summer drinks - cheers! 


1 cup sugar
1-1/2 cups water
8 pieces assorted stone fruit (peaches, nectarines, apricots, plums)


Simple syrup is a sugar syrup made with a ratio of 1 to 1, sugar to water.  In this version, you use 1 cup of sugar and 1 ½ cups water and submerge 8 pieces of stone fruit, sliced to impart more flavor.  
Bring the sugar, water and fruit up to a simmer, and simmer until the liquid has reduced to the 1 to 1 ratio, and the fruit has given the syrup its flavor, aroma and color, roughly 1-2 hours on simmer. Strain out the fruit and store the stone fruit simple syrup in the fridge for up to 6 months.
The syrup can be used in tea, sangria, cocktails, over ice cream, to moisten layer cakes, or made into sauces.

Recipe and image via PCFMA.

Edible Marigolds

Native to North America, marigolds are grown all over the world. They've been used in religious ceremonies by the Aztecs, spread by Spanish and Portuguese explorers, made into dyes, garlands and garnishes in India and Pakistan and nicknamed "Mary's gold" in Europe in reference of the Virgin Mary. 

Easy to grow, it's no wonder why and how they spread around the world. Once established, marigolds will bloom summer through fall. Plant now and enjoy rich color, plus the flowers and buds are edible! 

Incorporating marigolds into your feasts can lend a range of flavors from spicy to bitter, tangy to peppery. Our selection from Sebastopol-based Sweetwater Nursery come organically grown in a range of colors and sizes.

Read on to learn what varieties you'll find in the nursery. And hurry in, they're going fast! 


'Lemon Gem' Marigold

Widely considered as one of the best tasting marigold varieties. 'Lemon Gem' is an old-fashioned Signet type. It's finely cut foliage forms 8-10" mounds covered with single yellow blooms all season. Does best in the sunshine.


'Little Hero Flame' 

A lovely compact French marigold with a dwarf growth habit. Plant in sun and enjoy fragrant flowers and scented foliage. Heat and frost tolerant - what more could you want?!

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'Little Hero Mix'

A French marigold mix of fire yellow and orange. Enjoy bold colored flowers that are great for cutting with dark green fragrant leaves. Easy to grow, plant in sun to part sun.


'Chica Gold' 

Boasts early blooming large, fully double crested flowers with superior uniformity. This dwarf variety does great in containers in sun. 


'Bonanaza Bee'

Here's a mouthful - Compact, bushy, upright, dwarf crested French marigold! This beauty grows 10-12" tall with large 2-3" blooms. Space each plant 6-10" apart in full sun. Don't worry - they can take the heat! 

Stay tuned - we will have more edible flowers on their way! 

Strawberry Harvest + A Recipe Too!

The strawberry is truly a special treat of the summer season. At harvest, most of the fruit should be heart shaped, but can vary in size. Color should be vivid red to dark crimson skin, speckled with those dry, diminutive seeds. The berry should have a flowery fragrance, be juicy and have a sweet taste.

Wild strawberries, also known as Fraise Des Bois, will be about the size of a large raspberry and heart shaped. Red or white, the fruits are extremely fragrant, tartness is overshadowed by sweetness. And the taste is incredible, very power packed.


We love to our sun warmed strawberries right off the plant but once we get a good harvest, there's nothing better than incorporating them into a home-cooked meal! And who doesn't love the sound of...


Serves 4


  • 4 thick slices of French or Italian bread, preferably slightly stale. Dry bread will soak up the egg mixture better than fresh bread!
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 pint strawberries, halved


Slice the bread into cubes. In a large bowl whisk together the eggs, cream, vanilla extract. Dip the cubed bread into the egg mixture, then place on a greased baking sheet. Combine the sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle onto the cubes.

Broil for 2 minutes, flip, then broil another 2 minutes. Keep an eye on the bread during the last minute so it doesn’t burn. Remove the French toast from the oven and layer them on the skewers with the strawberries. Serve with maple syrup or strawberry jam as a dipping sauce.

This recipe is from the website Fruit & Veggies More Matters.