Written by Olivia Barrera

The time is here to enjoy Michigan’s cornucopia of Summer seasonal offerings! Whether you grow a vegetable garden, shop the farmers markets, or just love the flavor of fresh, seasonal veggies- Summer is one of the best times of the year to eat in Michigan! This article will discuss some foods that are currently in season, recipes to showcase them, and even give some tips for growing these delicious gems.


Zucchini plants are the gift that keep on giving – you can harvest many, many times from the same plant throughout the season! They are also very easy to grow from seed. One thing to watch out for if you are growing zucchini is to keep the leaves dry because they are very large and tend to shade each other out, meaning they will mildew easily. To prevent this from happening, one can prune back the plant so there are fewer leaves. Another strategy is to water very closely to the soil so the leaves don’t get splashed with as much water. It can also be advantageous to plant zucchini on a mound and water deeply, less often. The mound of soil will serve as a reservoir for the water.

Perfect Sautéed Zucchini
Rice Noodle Bowl

Crispy Zucchini Casserole

Photo and recipe by Love and Lemons

Perfect Sautéed Zucchini
Rice Noodle Bowl
Crispy Zucchini Casserole


Tomatoes are my personal favorite. They are another plant that can be harvested from again and again and the varieties range from sweet to savory to juicy to tart. Vine ripened, in season, fresh tomatoes can’t be beat! Amazingly, interplanting tomatoes with basil is a great way to fend off tomato pests. It’s like nature intended us to eat them together :’) Another tip for growing tomatoes is to plant them deeply because their stems grow tiny hairs that actually become roots if planted in soil or water. This gives the tomatoes a more robust and stronger root system, better anchoring them to the earth. Lastly, it is important to trellis, stake, or cage tomatoes early and maintain the plants so they continue to grow within their supports. This includes pruning the tomatoes and adding more stakes if they get too large for their cage.

Tomato and shallot tart

Tomato Soup

Photo and recipe by Food Network

Summer Tomatoes Salad


This beautiful vegetable is used in cuisine all over the world from Japan, to Italy, Morocco, Lebanon and beyond. It can be eaten with the red-purple-black skins kept on or peeled. Steamed or fried; baked or grilled. I highly recommend marinating 1-inch cubes with some oil, vinegar, herbs, and chopped garlic and adding to a shish kabob skewer. Its spongey nature will sop up all of the flavor and it’s a zesty, juicy bite. Because eggplants prefer a long, hot growing season, in Michigan they must be transplanted from starts. They also do thrive in a hoop house or green house. If that’s not an option for you, black plastic or dark mulch covering the soil can help to warm the root zone. This is another plant you can harvest multiple times from, and they have the prettiest flowers.

Spiced Eggplant Dip

Crispy Baked Egplant

Photo and recipe by Fountain Avenue Kitchen

Japanese Eggplant With Ginger & Scallions


Kale, lettuce, collards, chard, arugula, the list goes on and on. Many of these greens are not only great in a salad but taste wonderful cooked! I like adding kale to soups and stews and sautéing chard and collards. I haven’t tried it yet, but a Cooking Matters participant also recommends eating lettuce cooked in a pan! Try cooking it like you would cabbage, sautéed with onions and served with mustard. Most greens are hardy and last through the summer. Their plants can be picked from many times. A good tip is to try to plant greens before the last frost, this gives them a sweeter, less-bitter taste. Most do well sowed both as seeds and from starts.

Coconut Curried Greens

Beans and Greens Soup

Photo and recipe by Food 52

Fall Vegetable Salad
Coconut Curried Greens
Beans and Greens Soup
Fall Vegetable Salad


Basil was mentioned earlier in this list, but it is one of the easiest herbs to grow in the Michigan Summer (in my experience). Just pluck basil flowers as they come because the flowers can make the leaves taste bitter. Other herbs that do well here are mint, lavender, chives, fennel, and sage. Be careful to plant mint in a pot if you don’t want it taking over your entire garden! Herbs love well-draining soil and lots of sun.

Lemon Basil Zucchini Bread

Mint Ginger Mocktail

Photo and recipe by Unicorns in the Kitchen

Rosemary Roast Potatoes


While I haven’t grown cherries personally, I felt they were a necessary addition on any list of seasonal Michigan Summer foods! Eaten raw, cooked in dessert, and even enjoyed in a savory dish, ripe Michigan cherries can’t be beat. Cherries are our official state fruit, after all, and we even have a National Cherry Festival in Traverse City every July! According to MSU Extension, most fruit trees require full sun and can’t tolerate clay soils so good drainage (sandy soil) is a must. They also need annual pruning to thrive, shouldn’t be planted too deeply, and should be planted in mid-March or April. Enjoy these delicious cherry recipes:

Cherry Sorbet

Cherry Crisp

Photo and recipe by Hummusapien

Cherry Compote

So, while you’re enjoying Michigan’s beautiful lakes, sun, and fun – consider trying these seasonal fruit and vegetable recipes. Have a great Summer!

Sources and Further Reading