How Chefs Make Summer Last Forever
Chefs extend the season by pickling hot peppers, dehydrating stone fruit and turning juicy tomatoes into icy granita.
We’ve waited all year for honey-hued Sun Gold tomatoes and juicy Gaviota strawberries. So as the weather turns cool and sweater weather sets in, we’re not letting them go without a fight—and chefs feel the same way.
Instead of just stuffing themselves silly with summer’s bounty, they’re preserving these fruits, vegetables and herbs to stretch beyond the season. Here’s what chefs are obsessing about:
"For me, it's all about stone fruit, stone fruit, stone fruit. This is the sexiest of all fruits. We can, jar, jam, puree and dehydrate peaches, plums, nectarines and apricots. No stone fruit is spared! The New England season is so fleeting, so in addition to storing them for use throughout the year, I love to use them on grilled meats and to make stone fruit salsas." —Matt Jennings, chef/owner of Townsman in Boston
“I grew up eating loads of passion fruit; they're a real national treasure in Australia. I used to cut them in half and suck the bittersweet pulp right out of its skin for an after-school snack. Now I've planted passion fruit vines in my backyard, and one of the vines has crept all over the side of the house, which could be a pain, but I love its wild roaming nature just as much as the fruit that it bears. I go out into the backyard 'foraging' ripe passion fruit with my son, Hudson, each morning in summer, and we'll scoop out the pulp, juice and seeds to enjoy them with yogurt, ice cream and fruit salads, and freeze the leftovers for later use.” —Curtis Stone, chef/owner of Gwen in Los Angeles
“Sunny August days here in Maryland mean that fish peppers in the field are ripening to a brilliant red. We will use several thousand pounds to make a hot sauce we call Snake Oil but also dry and pickle as many as we can to extend the harvest well into next year. As the name implies, we use them to add a bit of spice to fish and shellfish from our beloved Chesapeake Bay.” —Spike Gjerde, chef/owner of Woodberry Kitchen in Baltimore, Maryland
“I let my herbs in my garden grow big and long, then I'll tie them with twine and hang them in my basement. I cook with the dried sage and other herbs through the fall and winter, and I also grind the dried herbs along with coarse sea salt to make a seasoned salt, which works great as a flavorful crust on fish and meat." —Jenn Louis, chef/owner of Lincoln in Portland, Oregon
“As summer ends, I gravitate toward tomatoes. I'll take organic Jersey beefsteak tomatoes and grate them to make the base for a soffrito of summer seafood paella or char bread, rub garlic, olive oil and beefsteaks all over it until I have the ultimate pan con tomate. When vibrant Green Zebra are appearing, I like to pulverize them and add a touch of simple syrup, then I freeze them for tomato granita, served with a ricotta semifreddo.” —Ryan Bartlow, executive chef at Quality Eats in New York City