One of the things I look forward to every summer is picking produce with my kids. I find it very relaxing and peaceful to be in a field picking fruit. I think this is a great thing for me to teach my children where the food we eat grows and the flavor is outstanding in fresh produce.

We have made some of our picking adventures a group activity by asking the kids friends and parents to join us. My children enjoy the social aspect of picking as well as eating the great tasting produce.

During the summer when the kids are home for every meal and snack, this helps keep costs down because u-pick is usually the best price you can find on produce. So far this year we have picked strawberries, cherries and blueberries each several times. I am noticing more vegetables are starting as well.

Along with vegetables, I plan to pick peaches, marionberries and raspberries in the coming weeks.

I was lucky enough to receive a cauliflower from a friend’s garden and I am looking forward to trying a refrigerator pickled vegetable recipe out with it. This is a great way to preserve the produce from the summer to eat in the future. This recipe will last in the refrigerator for up to three months. I am thinking this would be great in pasta salads this summer or chopped up on a taco.

Speaking of tacos, how many of you like fruit salsas? I have been surprised how much I enjoy the sweet spicy flavor of a fruit salsa. I have included a peach salsa recipe that I think is a great one to try. However you can use just about any fruit to make salsa like; watermelon, kiwi, strawberries and grapes. Foodhero.org has tons of different fruit salsa recipes to check out.

The peach salsa recipe is not too spicy so if you like a little more kick try out the strawberry jalapeno one from Foodhero.org.

I have already made the rhubarb blueberry crisp this summer. It taste so fresh with the blueberries I picked and some local rhubarb from the farmers market. I really like desserts that are not too sweet so you can taste the flavors of the fruit you use in the recipe. This recipe is a great example of the fruit being the star of the show.

Feel free to switch up the fruit based on what you pick for the week. It really is a great versatile recipe.

Whatever produce you enjoy eating during the summer try taking some time and having a picking adventure in one of the many local u-pick farms in Douglas County. You cannot beat the price or flavor of the local area bounty.

Mandy Hatfield is the Nutrition Education Program Senior Instructor for OSU Extension Service of Douglas County. Mandy can be reached by e-mail mandy.hatfield@oregonstate.edu or phone at 541-672-4461

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