What's in season: Peaches and nectarines are among the highlights of the summer stone fruits, and there's not much distinguishing the two aside from the outer texture of the fruit — fuzzy versus smooth — as the two are so closely related. Though tasted side by side, the fruits have subtle differences in fragrance, sweetness and acidity between specific varieties of each. Fully ripened, the fruit has a rich perfume and deep coloring and will give slightly under pressure. A number of varieties of each are showing up at stands now, including early white Spring Snow peaches, known for their low acidity, and flat freestone Sauzee Queen peaches, along with sweet Z-Fire yellow nectarines. Depending on the variety of the fruit and the location of the farm, peach and nectarine season can last into early fall.
What to cook: Peaches and nectarines are classic summer dessert flavorings, showing up in fruit pies and cobblers. Turn a bag of ripe fruit into a batch of preserves or jam, or freeze in an ice cream flavored with a touch of cinnamon or almond extract. The fruit also works well on the grill or sliced and added to salads or puréed as part of a cold soup.
What's on the horizon: Okra is showing up at various stands, and melons are just beginning to arrive.