A walk through the farmers’ market, particularly now when the season is changing and we’re suddenly offered a whole, new array of produce, is magic.
It’s one thing to be seduced by the beauty and newness of it all, though, and another to know how to choose the very best, because it all looks fantastic. Here are a few tips to help you get the best flavor from the market.
– Go early – everything is best then
– Find producers you trust and buy from them; they’ll steer you well
– Return produce if it isn’t up to standard (overly ripe, damaged beyond use); the producer will thank you
– Stay seasonal. Make this your religion.
– Go without a list, if you can. Your inspiration will guide you to the best.
– Stay away from hydroponic. It’s grown in water and (if not organic), chemicals
– Buy local, but don’t feel guilty if you live in the north and need a lemon that comes from the south. We all have to make compromises
– Avoid strawberries unless they’re absolutely fragrant and seasonal. In general, the season begins in mid to late May. One is tempted before, but the results are usually deceiving.
– It’s time for asparagus. Indulge, indulge, indulge
– It’s time for rhubarb. Ibid.
– Because you’ve got lovely rhubarb, don’t even think about those melons, peaches, nectarines…they’re no good yet.
– Look for lively greens on radishes and young root vegetables; avoid anything that’s dried out or droopy
– Baby onions and new shallots are in; use them instead of aging dry versions
– If you’re going to buy new garlic (last year’s garlic is on its very last legs), make sure it has developed cloves. And be patient.
– Lettuce is gorgeous now. Make lots of salads!
– Herbs – fragrance is a must.
– For seafood – here, you can usually buy by price. Fish and shellfish that are abundantly in season are good deals. For us, right now, it’s sardines and sandre, or pike.
Bon Appetit and stay tuned for buying tips for each season!