It’s no secret that the farmers market is one of the best places (and my favorite) to get fresh produce. Not only are you helping to support small businesses and your local communities but you can get things that you often can’t find at the store. But – it can also be overwhelming so I asked Zach to share some of his tips for picking the best produce for spring and summer and how to use it!
I love to shop the farmer’s markets year-round, but spring and summer is my favorite! You can get tons of delicious, fresh produce and support your local farmers at the same time. Here’s a quick guide to what I look for and some ideas of what to do with it.
This is the best time to get all kinds of fresh berries. The usuals are easy to find (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries), but I suggest trying boysenberries and loganberries if you can find them. I just love them all! Look for plump and shiny skin, except for blueberries which should have more of a dusty blue color. Wash them as soon as you get home and refrigerate.
I usually snack on the berries or add them into greek yogurt with a little granola. If you have a bunch that you need to use before they go bad then try making some mixed berry jam. You’ll have homemade jam for your toast or to make some homemade pop tarts.
This flavorful, nutty variety of mushrooms is only available fresh for a few months a year (although you can get them dried year round). They’re a little pricey, but you don’t need much to get a lot of flavor. I love to poach them in butter and use them in an omelette.
If you want to add some tartness to your desserts, rhubarb is the way to do it. Look for firm stalk and shiny, pink skin. Wash and trim leaves. Then remove and brown spots and refrigerate until you’re ready to use it.
My favorite thing to make with rhubarb is a tart. I usually keep some frozen pie crust around so I can whip one up anytime.
This is the best time to get fresh cherries at the market. The most popular are sweet cherries, bing cherries, and my favorite, rainier cherries. Look for firm cherries with the stems still attached and avoid any holes or puncture marks. Wash and refrigerate them when you get home.
Summer squash refers to a bunch of varieties, the most common being zucchini and yellow squash. You’ll also find romanesco zucchini (lighter green and striped), pattypan (looks like a flying saucer), or 8 ball (light green and shaped like it sounds). Zucchini and yellow squash are available year round, but it’s best in the summer months. Look for shiny skin and avoid blemishes or lacerations.
Summer to me means peach season. They’re delicious fresh and great for cooking. Look for firm peaches with fuzzy skin and avoid blemishes or bruises. They can be left out at room temperature or if you want to ripen them faster then place them in a paper bag.
I love to slice and grill peached to go with a salad. Toss with arugula, balsamic vinaigrette, and roasted pistachios for a bright, summery salad. Or poach them and make our deconstructed peach pie bites!
Spring is a great time to search the market for radishes. Look for a smooth, bright color and fresh looking, green tops. Radishes go well in a salad or sliced and on top of a homemade poke bowl. If you have a lot you can make your own pickled radishes to make them last and give you a tangy topping for salads or sandwiches.
Summer is the time when all varieties of citrus really shine! Lately, I’ve been buying more sumo oranges and grapefruit. They make a great snack or use it for some fresh juice in the morning.
This is also the perfect time to get some Key limes (named for the Florida Keys, but available all over) and obviously make some Key lime pie!