Four Ways to Maximize Your Farmer's Market Haul
Choosing the farmer's market as an inspiration for your summer meals is a great idea for many reasons. The produce tastes better and is great for local communities and the environment. Farmer's markets are often cheaper than supermarkets, partially because you don't have to pay for shipping costs. Unlike supermarkets, where you need to pay to sample food, many vendors at farmer's markets offer free samples too! With produce prices on the rise, it is imperative to maximize your weekly purchases and cut down on your waste.
Have you ever wondered how to make your farmer’s market haul last longer and give you plenty of meals for weeks? This is a quick guide to help you better utilize your farmer's market haul to provide you with ongoing nutrition for the whole family.
Try pickling or making jam.
Pickling and jamming your food can help increase the shelf life and make a delicious addition to any meal. Grab a clean jar with a lid washed in hot, soapy water, pick the fresh vegetables of your choice, remove the stems & cut the veggies into pieces/slices/spears. You can blanch crispier vegetables as necessary. Make a simple pickling brine of add vinegar, salt, and spices to a jar, place lid back on the jar and shake to combine ingredients. Add vegetables and top with water. Securely place the lid back on the container. Turn the container over a few times to blend the mixture. Refrigerate for 24-48 hours & shake the container once or twice if you think of it. That’s it!
Try a combination of spices, sugar, and vinegars like white vinegar and apple cider vinegar to change up the flavor.
Need some inspiration? Try these recipes:
- Sweet Chili Tofu Bao Buns, Pickled Vegetables
- Vietnamese Pork Bao Buns, Sriracha Mayo, Pickled Daikon and Carrot
Proper Storage is essential.
- Berries: Line your containers with paper towels, put the fruit in, and refrigerate for up to a week. Wash just before serving. (Raspberries are the most perishable and will last two to three days.)
- Tomatoes: Chilling zaps their flavor and turns them mealy, so do not refrigerate tomatoes. Keep them on the counter out of the direct sun for up to five days, ideally in a single layer (for less bruising). If they're on the vine, leave them that way and pick them off as needed.
- Melon: Whole, uncut melons can sit at room temperature for a week. Cover the exposed flesh of a leftover portion with a silicone bowl cover or put slices in an airtight container. Cut cantaloupe or honeydew will stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to three days; watermelon will last up to five days.
- Squash: Whole squashes will last for up to two weeks in the crisper drawer. Pop them in a resealable plastic bag, and they'll last even longer.
Take advantage of the freezer.
- Bell peppers: Thinly slice or chop before freezing. Fans of stuffed peppers can remove stems and scrape seeds before freezing the halved bell peppers.
- Cucumbers: Thinly slice or chop before freezing. The texture is compromised once frozen, but the flavor is not, so these are great for drinks, juicing, or smoothies.
- Herbs: Chop herbs and divvy them up in an ice cube tray. Top off each cube with olive oil, so it fills the crevices and forces out any air; then freeze. Once frozen, transfer to a bag.
- Melons: Cut melons into cubes or slices, remove the rind, then freeze on a baking sheet.
- Prepare Soup/Stews/Casseroles: Make enough portions of soups/stews/casseroles to freeze and enjoy for up to 3 months after preparation.
Menu Planning, Menu Planning, Menu Planning.
You can sketch out a menu for the week before or after you go to the farmer's market. The best way to turn a farmer's market trip into a meal is by starting with a dinner template instead of a set recipe. Get the building blocks down, then make it your own with whatever vegetables and herbs you have handy.
From exploring the vibrant booths to selecting produce and tasting the unique flavors, the farmer’s market brings families together while building healthy habits and supporting sustainable eating. What recipe do you plan on making next? And how will you make it last longer and not end up in the landfill prematurely?
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