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Farmers’ Markets: Planning Ahead

IMG_0001As someone who likes to stay very organized, getting all my Farmers’ Market produce ready for the week is something I enjoy doing.  After getting my weekly batch of produce every Tuesday, I go straight home and get it ready for use whenever I need it throughout the week.  Some nutritional purists might scold me for cutting, slicing, and dicing my fruits and veggies any further in advance than just before I’m going to eat, but if you’re busy, as I’m sure many of you are, here are some tips for prepping and storing your produce, as well as some fun applications for each item:

1. Greens: Sometimes I talk to people who avoid buying organic or market produce because it is dirty.  Remember people, things are grown in the ground.  Lettuces and other greens can sometimes be quite dirty when you grab them at the market, but don’t let that deter you from buying them!  When you get home, cut them into salad size pieces, or, for cooking greens, pieces suitable for sautéing.  Soak them in a big bowl of cold water and let all the dirt and grit fall to the bottom.  Carefully remove them to a salad spinner and spin dry.  Transfer them to a zip-top bag with a paper towel to wick away any extra moisture.  (Don’t forget to do the same with the tops of beets and turnips)!

2. Berries: Look for organic berries.  As my co-workers have noted before me, berries are among the most highly pesticide-sprayed fruits.  Store in your fridge or on your counter in a place that’s not too warm, and don’t wash them until just before you’re ready to eat them.  They tend to spoil quickly, so eat them fast, or, freeze them in a zip-top bag for use later in smoothies.

3. Broccoli: Cut the heads into bite-size florets, give them a rinse, and let dry.  Store in a tupperware and eat them raw in salad, or lightly steamed as a side for your dinner.  And don’t forget, the stems and leaves are completely edible, too.  For the stems, peel the tough outer skin and cut into pieces the same size as your florets.

4. Celery: Cut off a bit from each end and separate the stalks.  Either rinse them under cold water or wipe them clean with a damp cloth.  Then, cut them into sticks for dipping in nut butter, or from there, dice the sticks into salad our soup.   I find that storing them covered with water in a tupperware in the fridge keeps the celery crisp and delicious throughout the week.

5. Carrots: Trim off the tops (save them if you have a rabbit or a friend with one!) and rinse under cold water.  You can keep them whole, or, as with celery, cut them into sticks for easier cutting and prepping for salads, soups, or snacking.

6. Citrus: First off, pick citrus with nice, tight skin that feels heavy for its size.  This ensure lots of juice!  I like to wash my citrus so it is clean if I decide to use its zest in salad dressing, salsa, or to throw in the pot when I’m cooking my rice.  If you don’t end up using all your citrus, juice it into ice cube trays to add to drinks- it’s great!

7. Ginger: This may not be an item you buy regularly, but when you do, I can bet you won’t use the whole piece of root that you buy.  Cut the ginger into 1-2 inch chunks and peel off the skin.  Freeze in a zip-top bag and when you’re ready to use it, grating it with a microplane into sauces, stir-fries, and dressings will be super easy.

That’s the basic routine that I follow every week with my produce.  I hope these tips inspire you to go to the market, and, when you get home, to prep it all for the week to make your life a little easier!

By Aaron, Sunshine Wellness Chef

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