Handle with Care: Early Summer Delicacies

Hollywood, California

If we looked a little guarded and paranoid while navigating the crowds at the farmers' market yesterday, the reason was our bag of highly coveted, delicate produce. In winter, we can toss hardy squashes and root vegetables around with minimal concern, but summer brings out our desire to handle produce deliberately, cradling heirloom tomatoes like prized possessions and nestling ripe peaches into our bags with care. Here are some of the delicate seasonal treats to be found at the Hollywood farmers' market this month.

(Above) Berries are all over the market right now, from strawberries to blueberries, and while all of them are spectacular, our absolute favorite is the boysenberry. Developed in California in 1923, this complex and juicy berry is a cross between the Pacific blackberry and raspberry. We usually can't resist eating them out of hand, but with their balance of sweet and tart, boysenberries are wonderful in preserves, tarts, and cobblers, as well.

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We grew up eating wild mulberries on the way to school, so we didn't realize until much later how rare these berries are. Soft, sweet, and intensely juicy, mulberries are not to be missed if you spot them at the farmers' market. They are highly perishable, so eat them within a couple of days.

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There are two fig seasons a year, and we're in the midst of the first, or breba, harvest, which has brought tender, ripe Black Mission figs to market.

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Bouquets of papery orange squash blossoms are not just for decoration. Stay tuned for recipe ideas tomorrow!

• For more information on the Hollywood farmers' market and other Los Angeles area markets, visit Farmernet.com

Related: Early Stone Fruit: Hollywood, California

(Images: Emily Ho)