Juxtaposing seasons

Juxtaposing seasons

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

Baptist with a perfect spring lettuce!

Baptist with a perfect spring lettuce!

–       Return produce if it isn’t up to standard (overly ripe, damaged beyond use); the producer will thank you

Spring turnips

Spring turnips

–         Stay seasonal. Make this your religion.

epinards contrast season

–       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.

Designer rhubarb

Designer rhubarb

–       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

New onions

New onions

–       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.

Xavier with sandre, pike

Xavier with sandre, pike

 

Bon Appetit and stay tuned for buying tips for each season!

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12 Responses to Spring Buying Tips at the Farmers Market

  1. Peggy Bradley says:

    It’s our between seasons here in Boston. The farmer’s markets are slow here for awhile as they regroup, birth & grow the kids and lambs, plant more for us all. Can’t wait ’cause my jar din is mostly dirt (and daffodils!)
    Peggy

    • Susan says:

      Peggy,

      Spring is the toughest time to cook. I might have stressed the word patience a bit more. Hang in there! It will happen all of the sudden!

  2. Kelly says:

    Thanks so much Susan! These are really great tips and I’ll keep them in mind as our markets ramp up this Spring.

  3. Love this post. I’m inspired to head to the Ballard Farmers Market this weekend without a plan and lots of bags.

  4. Anne McDermott says:

    Thanks for the advance-taste! We’re about to move back to our Paris appartement after several months in Australia. Looking forward to gorgeous Spring vegetables and salades at the Auteuil market!!!

    • Susan says:

      Anne,

      You’ll find an abundance of everything, with the mild temperatures and spring downfalls we’ve just had. I tell you, the rain is pounding down right now after a gorgous, balmy morning!

  5. I love your photos and great tips for shopping at the Farmer’s Market.

    • Susan says:

      Cathy, Thanks! Coming from you, a REAL compliment!
      And I hope your farmers’ market is open and thriving….wish I were there!

  6. Lauri Thomasson says:

    In Indiana the season is off to a slow start because of the long, COLD winter this year. I have two more frozen containers of applesauce, some strawberries, blueberries and peaches in the freezer. I cannot wait for my favorite Farmer’s Market to open in May. Looking forward to some good lettuces, spinach, artisan bread, fresh pork barbecue and the absolutely, most delicious, made to order, thick, dense Belgian waffles made with the pearl sugar. They throw me off the low-carb diet plan every week as the smell is too good to resist. Sometimes I resist them and get a Nutella and banana crepe from the creperie tent, delicious also. I have learned over the years to avoid all strawberries in the supermarket and wait anxiously for the local ones to become available in the spring. Learning to eat local, in season and organic (as much as possible) is a lesson in patience, but it makes everything taste all the better because you know they are only there for a short while. Just a question for your other readers in the states. Is anyone else having trouble finding comb honey, local or semi-local? I can find honey in a jar, but none of the local growers have any comb honey. Is it because of the winter or something to do with the hives?. By the way, I loved your photo of the asparagus in the pitcher. I am going to try and paint it.

    • Susan says:

      Dear Lauri,

      This all sounds delicious, and glad you wait for strawberries too. Please take a picture of your painting, so I can see it, will you? Thank you!

      I just want to highlight the question: Is comb honey harder than usual to find? Will be interesting to find out.

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