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A Guide to Shopping for Fresh Produce

A DIY Guide to Shopping Local at the Farmers Market


HERE ARE A FEW TIPS

  • Go home right after the market. Don’t leave the produce in the car to run other errands or baking in the sun while getting breakfast. Head home and store them properly, as soon as you arrive.

  • Keep the produce out of sunlight once home.

  • Do not store fruits and vegetables together. Fruits give off high levels of ethylene gas, which ripens the fruits, causing them to change color, become softer, and sweeter. But it can quickly spoil surrounding vegetables.


There are so many varieties of fruits and vegetables at the summer market, but here are a few ways to help keep the summer's most popular produce last.



Peaches


It is best to pick out peaches that are on the firmer side unless they are to be eaten that day (and if that's the case, leave them in a bowl or basket on the kitchen counter away from sunlight. To lengthen the life of the fruits, store them in the refrigerator in a low moisture drawer, but only with other fruits. The refrigerator does not make the fruit more or less ripe but simply stops the process in time. Take the peaches out the night before eating.

If  to quicken the softening process, store them in a paper bag in a cool dark place, thereby trapping the ethylene gas. The paper bag trick is good for other fruits as well such as avocados and plantains.


Tomatoes 


When choosing tomatoes, look for bruising, spotting or soft spots on the skin. If there are signs of any of these, do not buy them. Look for vibrant colors among the rainbowed assortment of tomatoes at the market. Touch is also a big indicator of a good tomato. The tomato should feel firm but still reacts to touch. Lastly, make sure the tomato smells like a tomato. If it smells funky or just not like a tomato it may be a sign that the tomato going bad.


When storing tomatoes, do not put them in the refrigerator. The refrigerator will turn that deliciously, juicy, farm fresh tomato into a meaty, tasteless, tomato.  Refrigerating tomatoes damages the membranes in the fruit, which causes the tomatoes to lose flavor. If the refrigerator is the only option, let the tomato sit out a day before using.


Summer Squash/Zucchini


Summer squash varieties are delicate and thin skinned, so it is important to look for bruising and blemishes before buying. Also, choose firm squash as they will quickly soften. The smaller squash tend to be sweeter and preferable when cooking.


When storing summer squash, place in a plastic bag with as much air removed as possible, then tightly wrap the bag around the squash before storing in the vegetable drawer of the refrigerator.


Herbs


Summertime is also herb season. And, there is nothing better and more flavorful than fresh-picked herbs at the farmers market. Basil, dill, cilantro, sage and thyme are just a few of the herbs that hit the stands during this season. But, preserving herbs to use throughout the week can be a challenge. Make sure the herbs are not wilted in any way before choosing. Once home, treat herbs like flowers. Cut off the ends and put them in a glass of water immediately. Then put the glass of herbs in the refrigerator, except for basil. Leave the glass of basil on the counter in the kitchen away from direct sunlight. The refrigerator will spoil the flavor of basil and cause it to turn black.

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