Farmer's markets can provide a real adventure. Arriving to find stands full of fresh fruits and vegetables is expected, but when the produce you're looking for isn't in season or isn't available, there are alternatives to discover to make your trip worthwhile.
- Be aware that farmer's markets generally offer fruits and vegetables that are in season in your particular area.
- Ask the market manager if there's a list to show you what's in season during particular times of the year.
- Ask the growers selling their produce for some ideas on preparation and cooking if you find produce at their stands that you have not used or seen before.
- Look for recipes at the information table or at individual stands.
- Be prepared to try new varieties of produce. Many farmer's markets offer heirloom varieties that you can't find in grocery stores.
- Be prepared to substitute similar types of fruits or vegetables when the ones you're looking for are not available. For example, if chard is not available, then spinach may be used instead; or if the peach grower didn't arrive to sell his peaches for your crisp or cobbler recipe, then nectarines or plums can make a delicious substitution.
- Look for specialty food products such as fresh baked goods, jams and jellies, sauces and spreads, olive oil, cheese, and mushrooms that are not governed by the weather and season.
- Take advantage of what's in season at the farmer's market for optimum flavor and value.