I try to buy as much produce as possible (ideally, all our fruits and veggies for the week) from the farmers market. We have lots of farmers markets, so if I forget to buy something on Saturday, I can go to a market on Sunday or Tuesday or Thursday. My kids consume an mind-boggling amount of fruits and veggies every week; I think this is largely due to the amazing quality of produce at our farmers market.
A typical morning at the farmers market results in this:
So, how do I deal with this overwhelming table of deliciousness? I try to tackle it right away. Here is my strategy for produce cleaning and storage:
- Carrots: tops are snipped off with scissors over a compost bin. Carrots are rinsed and scrubbed, placed on a kitchen towel to dry, and then stored in a ziploc bag in the fridge. I rarely have to peel carrots that I get at the farmers market. I’ll just slice them for lunches.
- Eggs: these are easy—put the carton in the fridge.
- Stone fruit (nectarines, peaches, plums, pluots, apricots, etc.): rinsed off and placed on a towel to dry. I never refrigerate stone fruit as this seems to negatively affect the texture. Once dry, these are placed on a tray within reach of the kids; they don’t last long. Pluots and plums will last the longest (5–7 days depending on ripeness) at room temperature.
- Grapes: rinse well and dry on a towel or in a colander. I store these in the fridge in a recycled grocery store grape (or cherry) bag; you know, the ones with small holes all over them that seal at the top.
- Kale: separate and rinse well. Then, I shake them out to get them as dry as possible (I do this outside—it never snows here). I lay the leaves on a towel to dry, then gather the leaves back into a nice bunch, roll them up in the same towel and store them in a ziploc bag. The leaves are long, so they stick out of the bag. Hearty kale will easily last a week in the fridge.
- Apples: get rinsed and placed on a towel to dry. I store them in a cute little 1/4 peck bag that I once got at the farmers market. I place apples in the fridge to keep them nice and crisp, although I’ll leave a couple out on the fruit tray for the kids.
- Green beans: I put these in a ziploc bag and don’t wash until I’m going to eat/cook them.
- Potatoes: I put small potatoes in those little green baskets that strawberries come in (I have a zillion of them, because we consume a lot of strawberries) and keep them in the pantry. Potatoes should never be stored in the fridge due to some scientific thing that has to do with starch. I read about it once.
- Berries (raspberries, blackberries, boysenberries, blueberries, strawberries): I usually buy a 3-pack, so I just keep them in their little containers within the cardboard box, wrapped in a plastic bag, in the fridge. I don’t wash until right before eating. I usually don’t wash raspberries until they look dirty. This is the advantage of shopping at a farmers market and buying from farmers who don’t use sprays and nasty stuff on their crops.
*Lunch tip: Bring your kids to a farmers market, farm stand, green market or some such place. They’ll try new things and they’ll like them, because locally grown food tastes good. Surprisingly good.