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How to Buy Fruit at the Farmer’s Market

How to Buy Fruit at the Farmer’s Market

How to Buy Fruit at the Farmer’s Market

Summertime is the right time to buy fruit at the farmer’s market. It is one of the best places to buy in season, locally grown fruit. Fruit sold at the farmer’s market travels less distance, and therefore is picked closer to full ripeness. For this reason, it has more flavor than the fruit stocked by your local grocery store. However, there is nothing worse than buying loads of fruit at the farmer’s market because it looks and tastes beautiful, only to have it rotting on the counter or in your fridge one week later. Here are a few tips for making the most of the fruit you buy at the farmer’s market.

Make a Shopping List

Before going to the farmer’s market, have an idea of what you will be using the fruit for; breakfast, to-go lunches, snacks, dessert, and maybe even preserving. Try to estimate how much fruit you will use within a day or two, and how much you want to have available over the next week before the next market. I usually estimate how much fruit for each use. For example, my family of three will go through in a week: six pieces of fruit for my kiddo’s lunch, six pieces of fruit for snack, four pieces for dessert, and three pieces fruit for breakfasts. I also like to buy extra fruit, especially peaches, plums, and berries, for freezing.

Take a Walk

When you first get to the farmer’s market, take a walk through the market before purchasing. Compare prices and taste samples. There is nothing worse than buying a large amount of fruit, only to find it cheaper and better tasting three stalls down. If you are planning on using some fruit for freezing or canning, look for, or ask about, overripe or “2nds” fruit. This is the ideal fruit to use if you plan on using or processing immediately, and usually costs less.

Choosing Ripe Fruit

Fruit should feel heavy for its size. When choosing fruit for ripeness, pick up the fruit gently, but do not poke it, squeeze it, or over handle it. Turn it over in your hand, looking for any soft or moldy spots. If you plan to use the fruit immediately (within the day), a soft or moldy spot can be easily cut out before using. Smell the stem end of the fruit. The riper the fruit, the more fragrant it will be. If you are not sure, try asking the vendor (often the farmer), a simple question like, “will this fruit be ripe by Saturday?” or whenever you plan to use it. This can lead to more conversation, and possibly samples, if not already available.

Storing Fruit

When arriving home with our farmer’s market bounty, there are a few things we can do to get the most out of our purchase. Any fruit that won’t be eaten within two days should be stored in the refrigerator. The colder temperatures will help slow ripening, and there’s practically nothing better than a cold peach on a hot August or September day. A day or two before you want the fruit to be ripe, remove it from your fridge and keep it on your counter. Fruit such as peaches, plums, nectarines, berries, and tomatoes, are ideal for freezing, to enjoy in the fall or winter when they are no longer in season.

What are your favorite summer fruits to buy at the farmer’s market? How do you preserve summer’s bounty?



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