Farmer’s markets have become extremely popular in recent years, thanks to the growing demand for wholesome food fresh from the farm. Nearly anything your heart desires can be found at a farmer’s market, from black radishes to striped tomatoes and everything in between. When you see the variety spread out before you, it’s easy to go nuts and take home a ton of delicious produce. How could you have a hard time using all of these new and exciting ingredients?
Unfortunately, once you get it all home, you might find yourself gawking at your bounty, at a loss for what to do with it. It just seems wrong to make the same old things out of such spectacular produce. Here are some tips on ways that you can learn to use produce from the farmer’s market.
Ask the Grower
People who grow food also tend to be pretty experienced at cooking with it. When something at the farmer’s market catches your interest but you have no idea how to prepare it, ask the grower. They may be able to give you some tips on what you can do with a fruit or vegetable. They may also be able to suggest some other items that the produce in question would go well with.
Eat What’s in Season
Eating only produce from the farmer’s market means that you’ll be forced to adapt to eating only what’s being harvested at that particular time of year. Depending on where you are in the country, that might mean no tomatoes on your baby lettuce salad and no okra in your hot wintertime stews. However, this can actually be a good thing. It teaches you to be more creative with what you’ve got on hand and opens up whole new possibilities. Substitute that okra for some winter squash or pumpkin. Instead of tomatoes on your spring salad, try strawberries. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll never have a hard time finding ways to make something good.
Once you find a combination that you like, try to build on it and see what else you can come up with. Were strawberries good on your salad? If so, consider adding other fruits, such as raisins, grapes or peaches. If you’re not sure about how a particular ingredient would be in a meal or dessert, just make a small amount to try it out. If you don’t like it, not much will be wasted.
Eat it Fresh
Cooking is all fine and good, but sometimes produce is best enjoyed as nature intended. Most produce, especially fruit, is perfectly delicious when eaten raw. Tomatoes, green beans, peas, apples, peaches and green onions are some examples of things that are good as they are. Some people even have a soft spot for raw broccoli and cauliflower. Also, most vegetables are more nutritious when they’ve been cooked. Things like mushrooms, potatoes, cabbage and all greens but lettuce are the exceptions.
Do you want to be able to enjoy the same delicious produce during the winter that you get during the summer? Don’t go to the store and waste your money on bland fruits and veggies that were harvested before they were even ripe. Take up home canning as a hobby! With a few simple supplies, you can load your cabinets with flavorful tomatoes, carrots, okra, cucumbers and other favorites. Fermentation is also a possibility. Tomatoes, cabbage and radishes can be used to create nutritious probiotic foods that will stay good for months.