In most parts of the country, there’s a window of time when fresh, seasonal produce is available. Where I live in South Jersey, the end of July is when the farmers markets are overflowing with fresh, hard-to-resist fruits and vegetables that have a short season. The strawberries are already gone.

For many of us, July and perhaps early August are the most productive times for summer fruits and vegetables. If you want to make sure you don’t miss that window for the best of what to summer has to offer, here are some foods that are best in July.

Tomatoes

tomato-on-vineNow that's what a tomato should look like minutes before you eat it! (Photo: photon_de/flickr)

The difference between a seasonal tomato picked off the vine when it's ripe and a tomato you get in the grocery store in the middle of winter that was picked green and ripened in a truck as it’s shipped hundreds of miles is…is…is…I don’t even know how to describe the difference. They aren’t even the same vegetable in my opinion.

Grab tomatoes while you can and use them everywhere. Make fresh salsa or fresh pasta sauce. Go crazy with Caprese. Throw them on sandwiches or do what my dad always did with them in the summer: Eat nothing but corn on the cob and fresh sliced tomatoes with a little smear of Miracle Whip as an entire meal.

Cherries

drunken-cherry-lemonadeThere are so many uses for cherries in July, including flavoring a boozy beverage. (Photo: Piti Tan/Shutterstock)

In most parts of the country, sweet cherries begin to be available in late June and by the end of July, their season is over. Get them while you can and make pie, cherry upside-down cake, or turn them into a syrup to mix into cocktails like Drunken Cherry Lemonade.

Blueberries

blueberry muffinsHit the farmers market on Saturday for fresh blueberries to make Sunday morning blueberry muffins. (Photo: Claire Yuki/flickr)

Another fruit that has only about four to six plentiful weeks in mid summer, blueberries are a must-have for muffins, pancakes, smoothies, pies or just popping right in your mouth. Try lemon-blueberry muffins for a little twist on the classic or use them in a special treat like blueberry ice cream floats.

Corn on the cob

baby-corn-cobEven the littlest guys know to get all the corn on the cob they can while the getting is good. (Photo: Gordon/flickr)

Corn on the cob is the ultimate summer food as far as I’m concerned. Here in New Jersey, it makes its debut right around the 4th of July. There is something magical about biting into the first butter-slathered ear of the summer. It also helps to remember that in about eight weeks, the fresh-picked corn will be hard. That makes gobbling up as much as possible in July a priority.

Zucchini

zucchini in basketSometime in August, when you're gathering baskets this full of zucchini every day, you'll think back to July when were excited about the squash. (Photo: Cristina/flickr)

Sure the zucchini will continue to produce until mid-September, but they’re best in July. Why? You’re not sick of them yet. You’re still excited to slice them up and sauté them in a little olive oil as a side dish. You’re not yet breaking out the zucchini bread recipes or looking up 15 ways to prepare zucchini to deal with the surplus squash.

Related on MNN:

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.