As the shortest season of the year, Late Summer is around for just a few weeks at the end of August. Garden bounties overflow as peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, and berries ripen and absorb the last of summer’s sweetness. As Late Summer turns into Fall, a crisp is felt in the air to let us know that cooler temperatures—and the final harvest of the year—are on their way.
Late Summer is energetically connected to the Stomach and Spleen and associated with sweet flavors. When we think of sweet, processed foods are typically the first to come to mind. But Nature provides plenty of naturally sweet foods that can be harvested from your backyard garden or purchased at a local farmer’s market. While we are still enjoying the crux of Late Summer’s goodness, let’s step into the garden to see what we can cook up!
Tomatoes: Cherry, Grape, and Plum
The smaller tomato varieties have the highest sugar content, and therefore lots of versatility in the kitchen. Roast, braise, or caramelize them. Or simply slice and quickly saute them in olive oil and garlic and place over pasta. Add some sliced bell peppers and garden peas for an added sweet boost!
Peas: Garden or Snap
While peas are more of a late Spring crop in the northeast, they can still be found in some farmer’s markets. Deliciously sweet, these veggies are perfect straight out of the pods or gently sauteed with garlic, ginger, and olive oil.
Beets: Yellow or Red
Anything that grows under the ground absorbs Earth essence, and is therefore supportive to Stomach function. Yellow and red beets can be steamed, roasted, or baked and eaten hot or at room temperature mixed with olive oil, red wine vinegar, and thinly sliced red pepper.
Bell Peppers: Red, Orange, and Yellow
Nothing screams sweet more than a freshly picked bell pepper. There’s a reason why the colorful peppers (especially red!) cost much more than the green. They can take up to 4 additional weeks to ripen, depending on the air temperature. But that added growth time really brings out their sweet flavor. Roasting red, yellow, or orange peppers on the grill or in the oven is a delicious way to embrace Late Summer’s gifts!
While not the easiest crop to grow in a home garden, corn is an incredible medicinal resource. From the silks (turn them into a tea!) to the actual fruit, corn is one of Nature’s finest garden treasures. Grill corn (while still protected in its husks) or boil the cob to soften the kernels. Then either eat it as-is, or cut the kernels off the cob to enjoy in a corn salad or hot with a dab of butter.
These vegetables need no introduction! Be sure to cook them (as with all vegetables) to warm their essence and aid the body in digestion. Try roasting, grilling, sauteing, or thinly slicing and adding to a soup or stir fry.
As a tropical plant that originated in South America, sweet potatoes can be simply roasted and enjoyed as-is, topped with a dab of butter and brown sugar, or given a more elaborate, decadent treatment. These sweet tubers are the perfect addition to any meal, from a backyard barbecue to a holiday gathering.