Farmer's Market Field Guide: Summer Edition

From watermelon patches to berry picking, the warm summer breeze encourages all of us out to explore local scenes. One of our favorite summer weekend activities is visiting the local farmer's market. It is a great way to support the local community and a fun way to get a little shopping done - especially if you're looking for juicy fruits, vibrant flowers, local honey, fresh vegetables {or just about anything else}.  

Each weekend at the market, we’re always inspired to to try new ingredients, recreate some tried-and-true favorite recipes, and take advantage of the fresh produce the bustling season has to offer. Read on for our top tips to navigate a farmer’s market with ease this season and see our favorite summer finds.  

When to Go to the Farmer’s Market 

The old saying is true - particularly when it comes to shopping for fresh produce! Since many markets open to the public early in the morning, it’s best to arrive shortly thereafter to beat the crowd and the worst of the famous Florida summer heat so that you can score the freshest meats and vegetables possible. 

A Guide to Summer Produce: What to Look For 

It’s wise to have a general idea of what’s in season before you head to the farmer’s market. For instance, if you curate an entire Summer gathering around squash recipes, you might be disappointed to find that squash is an October vegetable, and the gathering is scheduled for that night... 

Brightland, one of our favorite olive oil brands, produces a monthly Seasonal Produce Calendar that we love to use to inspire new dishes {during the correct season!} They post this helpful guide on their Instagram account at the top of each month. We also encourage you to leave your shopping list at home and not be afraid to try something new – you never know what you could concoct! 

Inspire Your Menu with Farmer’s Market Finds 

When we’re low on inspiration and aren’t sure what to snag at the farmer’s market, we try to consider a few different questions to inspire our menus: 

  • What’s in season? 
  • Is there a new fruit or vegetable that we’ve wanted to try, but haven’t yet? 
  • What colors are we seeing among the produce? Can they inspire a menu color palette, perhaps? 
  • Is there a seasonal ingredient that we’ve been waiting for that’s finally ready? 
  • Has a family member requested a specific dish lately?  
  • Is there anything brand new that we’ve never tried before? {And are we feeling particularly adventurous today?} 

What To Make with Your Farmer’s Market Finds  

We’ve been able to cook and bake up some of our most beloved dishes using farmer’s market finds. Some of our favorites includes: 

Check back on Toast, the Blog for a complete farmer’s market finds inspired menu, soon!  

Cookware and Bakeware for Farmer’s Market Finds Recipes 

From bubbling cheesy vegetable dishes to homemade pies, we love using our wide assortment of cookware and bakeware to transfer these recipes from oven to table in style 

Loaf pans: 

Casserole Dishes: 

Pie Dishes: 

8-inch pie dishes: 

9-inch pie dishes:  

How To Store Your Farmer’s Market Finds in Style 

Showing off the goods you got from the farmer’s market is part of the fun of hand-picking fresh and locally made items. We love to show store our finds on the counter or on the dinner table {if they don’t need frozen or refrigeration, of course}. Here are some of our favorite ways to store our farmer’s market finds: 

    Farmer’s Market Tips & Tricks 

    TAKE A LAP  

    Shopping doesn’t have to be a chore. Grab a cup of coffee from a local vendor, stroll around at your own pace, and compare prices of your must-have items to make sure you’re getting the best deal. Odds are you’ll find some hidden treasures and leave with a sweet surprise - like a bouquet of fresh flowers from a farm down the road.  

    KNOW WHAT MATTERS TO YOU  

    Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the things you care about. Is it organic? When was it harvested? What kind of pest-control measures do you take? What do you feed your livestock? These farmers take pride in the quality offerings they provide; they’ll be happy to answer you and you’ll probably learn something new. 

    BRING THE ESSENTIALS  

    While a basket is a must, don’t forget to bring a cooler, too. Depending on what’s offered at your market, you may wind up bringing home fresh milk, homemade cheeses, or other perishable goods. Not to mention it allows you to sit back and enjoy chatting with those around you without feeling rushed to get home.  

    PRESERVING IS YOUR FRIEND  

    Sure, those green beans looked amazing, but did you really need to buy the entire bushel? Learning how to quickly pickle, can, or blanch and freeze your haul can save you money in the long run - and you may even find a new hobby out of it.  

    STRAIGHT FROM THE HORSE’S MOUTH 

    To broil, sauté, bake, or fry? Step outside of your comfort zone and find out the farmer’s favorite way to prepare their meats and produce. After all, they’re the experts.  

    SEARCH FOR SAMPLES  

    Rest assured, the vendors want you to love their product and will more than likely be happy to oblige in providing a sample if you just ask. Plus, the sample can help you gauge freshness and allows you a chance to learn more about the farmer and their growing practices.  

    HELPFUL HINT: STOCK UP ON LOCAL HONEY  

    If you live in the south, you’re no stranger to the allergies that plague us. But fear not - we’ve got a sweet solution. By purchasing and consuming local honey, you’ll be ingesting local pollen, too, which can lead to a decrease in seasonal allergy symptoms over time.  

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