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Farmers’ Market Tips: How to Stretch Your Bounty
BY SHELLEY LEVITT, PHOTOGRAPH BY JAKE STANGE
Stretch Your Bounty
“One of the great things about farmers’ markets is that the food isn’t packaged,” says Ford. “You can buy, say, just a few cherry tomatoes instead of a whole basket.” Here, his guidelines for making sure you use all the veggies you buy:
1. If it has a peel, you can stockpile it.
Items like carrots, beets, potatoes, and citrus fruits will last at least a week.
2. Keep herbs fresh longer.
Quickly rinse with cold water, shake off liquid, then roll the herbs in a paper towel. Put in a plastic bag or container and store in the fridge.
3. Make stock.
A big pot of it is always bubbling away on the stove at Ford’s Filling Station. Make your own with a few cups of veggie scraps, a few quarts of water, and any fresh herbs you have on hand. Simmer for 30 to 45 minutes, let cool, strain, then freeze in ice-cube trays. Use the cubes to give an instant flavor boost to soups, grains, and beans.
Ripe with Possibilities
Bursting with antioxidants, fiber, and juicy flavor, berries may be the ideal food. Sure, you can eat them by the handful, but here are two ways to save them for later:
1. Frozen: Rinse berries and pat them dry, then spread them on a shallow dish or baking sheet. Freeze, then transfer to a freezer bag. You can easily scoop out a handful to toss into a smoothie or to thaw for a yogurt topping.
2. Preserved: In a heavy-bottomed pot, mix four cups of crushed berries and a few tablespoons each of sugar and lemon juice (to taste). Stir over low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and bring the mixture to a full rolling boil, stirring often, until it reaches 220ºF (105ºC). Transfer to hot sterile jars, leaving a quarter inch to half inch headspace, and seal.
The Roughage Stuff
When it comes to greens, get on board with the warming trend.
If you’re not quite in the mood for salad, try this super-easy trick for prepping delicate spring finds like frilly mustard greens: Hold a heatproof bowl with a dish towel or pot holder and rotate it over a burner set to medium for 30 seconds or so, until the bowl just begins to feel warm to the touch. Pour in the greens, squeeze a lemon wedge on top, sprinkle with sea salt, toss, and voila! You have all the nutritional punch of raw greens, but the subtle warmth opens up the flavors, says Ford.
Blooms can be more than just eye candy.
Some bouquets are as palatable as they are pretty. Ford saves young chamomile blossoms, which resemble daisies, after brewing the leaves into tea, and uses them to make this lemon-flavored simple syrup: Boil equal parts sugar and water until the sugar dissolves, add chamomile flowers, cool, and strain. Try it in iced tea, cocktails, or drizzled over berries. (If you plan on cooking with flowers, make sure they haven’t been treated with chemicals.)
Sugar snap peas are a near-perfect vegetable: high in fiber and vitamin C, and low in calories (about 60 per cup) with, says Ford, “a sweeter, more consistent taste than other peas” and no need for shucking. Eat them raw, pod and all, when you want a quick, no-hassle snack. Or slice them on a bias, blanch, and add to a salad of radishes and baby greens. Ford also likes them pureed into a sweet-pea remoulade for crab cakes.