How Do I Cook This? Advice for Produce From the Farmers Market

When you visit a farmers market, it’s very easy to get carried away with all the beautiful, fresh, and unusual fruits and veggies you find there. So don’t worry if you arrive home and suddenly don’t know how you’ll prepare those bright leafy greens or the patty pan squash you couldn’t resist. Here are a few resources to help you make delicious meals from your farmers market finds.

Healthy recipe ideas for fresh locally grown fruits and vegetables

Make the most of your farm-fresh produce.

Farmers Market Recipes

Virginia Cooperative Extension just published the first portion of a collection of fact sheets featuring Virginia Grown™ fruits and vegetables. The fact sheets provide information on:

  • Selecting good quality produce
  • Proper storage for freshness and preventing food waste
  • Tasty and nutritious recipe ideas
  • Simple preparation ideas
  • Nutrition information
  • Ways to introduce new fruits and veggies to children.

Check out each of these fact sheets for a variety of produce commonly found at Virginia Farmers Markets. And just a reminder in case you missed it, our Summer Produce Recipe Round-Up has 41(!) recipes for fruits and veggies in season now.

Fresh Fruits and Veggies Recipes

There are so many places online to find recipe ideas, but not all of them focus on nutrition. Here are some good resources from organizations that promote eating like MyPlate.

  • What’s Cooking? USDA Mixing Bowl – This is a collection of hundreds of recipes from the USDA, the creators of MyPlate. You can search by ingredient and find low-cost, healthy recipes that your family is sure to enjoy.
  • Fruits and Veggies More Matters – This organization’s mission is to help us eat more fruits and veggies for better health. So they have lots of great advice on how to select and store fresh produce, the nutritional benefits of different produce, and plenty of recipes to enjoy the taste of fruits and vegetables. (Just beware, this website tends to load really slow. I guess it’s just filled to the brim with information!)
  • Seasonal and Simple – This mobile-friendly website (and app!) was created by the University of Missouri to solve this exact problem- how to buy and prepare locally grown fruits and veggies. Find the fruit or veggie you’re interested in, and it will show you how to select, store, and prepare it.

Fruit and Veggie Experts

If you’re at the farmers market and interested in an unusual or new fruit or veggie, don’t overlook the expert standing right in front of you. Farmers who know how to grow it also know how to pick the best quality, store it for the best shelf life, and most important of all, cook it for maximum flavor. Farmers are happy to help answer your questions about their products. They take pride in their produce and want you to enjoy it (and come back next week to buy it again).

What are some fruits and veggies you see at the market but haven’t bought because you’re not sure how to fix them? What’s the most unusual food you’ve seen at your local farmers market?

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