It's July and the farmer's markets are in full force with ripe strawberries, heirloom tomatoes, and juicy peaches. Since I live in Southern California, the Markets are mostly year-round here, but summer is special! When I first started shopping at the Farmers Market, I was overwhelmed by all the beautiful seasonal fruits and veggies to choose from and ended up buying way too much food. Keep reading for my best 5 Farmers Market tips for you to get the most out of your shopping trip.
Farmers Market Shopping Tips
1. Bring a List When Shopping at the Farmers Market
The shopping list will help you remember what and how much you need. If you have an idea of what you're preparing for the week the shopping experience will be more relaxed. Feel free to buy something new and if you venture into uncharted territory, ask the farmer about for the best way to cook or pair the fresh fruit or vegetable.
2. Walk Through the Farmers Market Before Buying Anything
Upon arrival go on a sort of reconnaissance mission to survey the offerings. Walk through all the aisles and see what’s available and who has the best prices, stop for samples but don’t buy yet. It’s a bummer to purchase the first item on your list and later discover another farmer's stall has a better quality for the same or cheaper price.
3. Bring Your Reusable Bags and a Tote
I prefer sturdier bags to haul my bounty home so I bring my straw market tote and a few bags tucked inside to pack up my seasonal goodies. At the very least a few plastic grocery bags tucked into your pocket is a good idea.
4. Cash is a Must at the Farmers Market
Bring cash, a mix of single, fives and few quarters. Some vendors may accept credit cards, but paying with cash is quicker and a very frugal muse way of shopping.
5. Best Time to Shop
Morning is generally less crowded and has the best selections. During the late afternoons before closing, farmers may offer a small discount so they don’t have to pack and haul the leftovers back to the farm.
It’s more common now for Farmers Markets to include food trucks, so if you're feeling a little peckish grab a bite at the Farmers market before shopping. During the Summer, my local Farmers Market offers the tastiest Roasted Corn on the Cob.
Is everything sold at a farmers market local and organic?
Just because you shop at a farmers market, it doesn’t mean that the food is local, or raised organically. Get to know the sellers at the market, and ask questions.
How to pick a tasty summer tomato
First, DON't pick it up and give it squeeze, that doesn't work and the vendor will probably no appreciate you manhandling the goods.
Normal size tomato should feel heavy for their size and have a sweet and slightly earthy smell. The stronger the tomato aroma, the better the flavor, at least that’s my experience with tomatoes, especially the plum variety.
Grape and cherry tomatoes should have a deep color and be smooth, unwrinkled, and plump for their size.
How to pick a juicy ripe peach
Peaches are the quintessential summer fruit. Fresh sliced peaches over creamy vanilla ice cream, baked into a pie, or just all by itself the juices dribble down your chin and the succulent peach dazzles your mouth, juicy and fragrant. Okay, enough peach porn, what you really wanna know is how to pick a peach.
First look for a deep yellow color, not a pale yellow. A ripe peach will be a little soft, soft enough to give a little with a gentle squeeze. The skin around the stem should be a little wrinkled. The shriveled skin is a sign that the skin is drying out and this intensifies the flavor.
If your peach isn't quite ripe, put the peaches in a brown paper bag, and let it sit for a day or two.
Find A Farmers Market Near Me?
Looking for a local farmers market? Search for a Farmers Market by location and products available at the USDA’s National Farmers Market Directory
You can also find one near you by searching for your local city website. I've provided a few links to find farmers markets in the southern california vicinity.