How to Make the Most of a Farmer’s Market
Ask for seconds
One trick that many jam makers know about already is to ask the vendors for seconds. Seconds are fruits and veggies that, because of some flaw, are not able to be sold at full price. This often means a small mark like a hole, disfiguration, or bruise. Most of the time, it doesn’t affect the taste of the produce, but even if it does, you can probably just cut away the mark and save the majority of the flesh.
Seconds are particularly useful if you’re going to chop up the fruit or veggies. Cooking will change the texture, so you don’t have to worry about the flaw affecting the overall dish. Seconds are often a fraction of the price of normal fresh produce, but they’re usually behind the counter, so you’ll have to ask for them.
Bring a cart or a basket
Farmer’s markets often get crowded, and it becomes much easier to navigate through the stalls if you have your hands free. Bring a large basket or a small hand cart, and stow your purchases in there. That will leave your hands free for other transactions – and to receive free samples!
Just make sure your vehicle isn’t too unwieldy. Many families choose a red wagon to hold their purchases (which also doubles as a place for their young children to sit), but often find themselves stuck in tight corners when they can’t maneuver the wagon anymore.
Go in with ideas, but not a concrete plan
Walking through a farmer’s market can give you tons of inspiration for seasonal, fresh cuisine. There is always plenty of fresh produce to buy, but since the growing season changes so rapidly, there’s no guarantee that whatever you liked last week will be around this week. It’s important to go in with a few ideas, but if you’re heading to the market with a super-specific list, you may be disappointed.
If you’re serious about doing the farmer’s market right, invest in a cookbook which lists recipes by season, and learn the schedule of the growing season in your area. That way, you’ll always have ideas in the back of your mind.