How to Find the Best Urban Produce this Summer

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How to Find the Best Urban Produce this Summer

Meghan Boledovich may have the dream job for food and shopping lovers. Boledovich is one of New York’s few full-time in-house urban produce sourcers. She helps PRINT. live up to its ‘farm-to-table’ mantra — fresh, seasonal, local, and sustainable ingredients including fruit, vegetables, meat, grains, cheeses, jams, nuts, spices, wine, and teas. Boledovich has the enviable task of finding such products in, and around, one of the world’s most food-centric cities.

It’s because of this that, in the kinder months, you’ll see her riding her vegcycle — a three-wheeled bike capable of carrying more than 100 pounds of fruit and vegetables — around Union Square and the West Side Highway. As we’re about to see some exciting seasonal produce hit the shelves, we thought we’d quiz Meghan on what products and ingredients to look out for in the coming delicious summer months, and where we can go find them.

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Paste: When out and about foraging, what do you have in mind before choosing any produce?

Meghan Boledovich: When I’m at the Union Square Greenmarket, getting specialty produce for the restaurant, I’m first looking for any newly available ingredients. Getting the very first vegetable of the season is always exciting for myself and the chef — and hopefully our customers! Next, I’m looking for unique varieties of heirloom produce. Often, these have unique appearance and flavor, like some double-leafed pea greens I got last week from Alewife Farm, they were not only beautiful and intricate in appearance, but also tender and full of flavor.

Paste: What kind of products should people look out for in June?

MB: June is exciting because it is sort of like the convergence of late spring vegetables and beginning of early summer ones. Some of my favorite things are fava beans, especially in early June when they are tiny and sweet. The same goes for sugar snap peas, purple snow peas, and English shelling peas.

Baby squash starts coming in, and is super tender, along with the squash blossoms, which are a seasonal delicacy. Other baby summer vegetables come out too: carrots, beets, fennel, kohlrabi. As for fruit, strawberries and rhubarb are in full force. Towards the middle of the month, cherries. And towards the end, black raspberries, currents, and blueberries.

Paste: July brings a profusion of summer produce and seems to be the height of the season. What do you recommend keeping an eye out for?

MB: July starts to bring in tomatoes, finally! And stone fruits: peaches, apricots, plums, goose berries. Summer squash is in full force and new potatoes have been freshly dug. There’s celery, with a much more intense flavor than supermarket celery we get most the year, and baby cauliflowers, and broccolis like romanesco. We also see tomatillos, okra, and sweet corn.

Paste: And August? Is it the beginning of fall produce?

MB: August and September are the fullest months at the market here in NYC. There are so many options, that’s the time it can often be overwhelming to decide what to cook. There are peppers! So many types are finally ripe for picking. Many more tomatoes come in, while melons of many varieties are also sweet and juicy. Shelling beans start coming in towards the end of the month.

Paste: Any favorite markets or traders you’d like to recommend in finding these ingredients?

MB: Union Square Greenmarket is one of the most prolific, and is open four days a week year round. I have certain farms that are my favorites on certain days. Monday has Lani’s Farm for Asian specialty produce with a huge variety, lots of foraged greens, and really unique herbs like fresh Szechuan peppercorns.

On Wednesdays, look out for Berried Treasures. Franca, the farmer, has been there [at the market] since it opened 40 years ago. Her farm is up in the Catskills, but she is originally from Staten Island which you can hear in her accent as she yells to customers, “Tasting is believing! Try a strawberry,” or just, “Yummy!”

She specializes in growing Tri-Star strawberries — a tiny wild variety that packs a lot of floral flavor and sweetness. But she also grows many heirloom vegetables — one of my recent favorites is a squash called tromboli. It looks like a trumpet, is a very tender light green squash, and almost custardy in texture when you cook it. Franca’s basil is also some of the most aromatic.

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On Fridays you’ll find Alewife Farm, Camporosso, Lucky Dog Farm, and Rise & Root Farm. Alewife’s a young farmer who started coming to Union Square last fall. He’s growing lots of unique greens, and right now has incredible flowering watercress rabe, kale rabe, and even arugula rabe.

Camporosso are also young farmers, growing unique greens, heirloom peppers (like aleppo) and tomatoes. Also lots of different basil types. Chicories become their hallmark in the fall, as they grow many different varieties you won’t see outside of Italy.

Lucky Dog Farm has great organic produce with more straightforward varieties, but they’ve also got some of the best blueberries ever. Richard, the farmer, is maybe one of the nicest people on earth. When I went to visit his farm in the Catskills, he took time out of his busy day to show me the local swimming hole and take a quick dip!

Rise & Root Farm is coming back to the market soon. They’re a group of food activists who recently started up a farm in the Black Dirt region of Sullivan County. They’ve got some of the best tomatoes out there, and an array of unique heirloom variety produce and incredible flowers. They also have a partner company, Crock & Jar, that sells great fermented vegetables like kimchi and kraut.

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