Enjoying What’s Fresh

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By Himanee Gupta-Carlson

 

 

Early Summer Produce at Owl Wood Farm’s Stand, photo courtesy of Pattie Garrett

The many vegetable farmers who bring their harvests to the Saratoga Farmers’ Market on Wednesdays and Saturdays offer an abundance of early summer freshness – thick luscious leaves of kale and Swiss chard; bountiful bags of lettuce and salad mixes; tender carrots, sprightly radishes, and bright baby beets accompanied by long leafy tops.

This festive array often makes one want to buy everything. But then comes the question: How to enjoy it all before it wilts?

“How to store it, how long will it last? These are questions we get a lot,” says Justine Denison, of Denison Farm.

Such issues might particularly perplex subscribers of community supported agriculture (CSA) programs who receive boxes filled to the brim with produce every week. CSA subscribers are vital to many farmers’ livelihoods and the boxes, in return, are intended to offer up ample supplies of produce for up to a week. Many others also rely on their weekly or twice-weekly market visits for much of what they eat. As a result, it is in the interest of everyone to know how best to keep these seasonal vegetables fresh.

Denison offers the following tips:

  • Shop early. Farmers harvest and cool vegetables within a day if not hours before market. As a result, produce is most fresh right at the market.
  • Bring coolers to keep produce cool if you’re not heading straight home.
  • At home, give leafy greens like kale a cold water bath if they appear wilted. Drip or spin dry the leaves before storing them.
  • Store vegetables in a crisper in bags that are left open, allowing the produce some room to breathe.
  • Don’t wash vegetables until you’re ready to eat them.
  • Strategize. Radishes, turnips, and beets last longer than their green tops, all of which are delicious steamed, lightly sautéed, or in salads. Clip the tops off and eat them first. Save the roots for later.

And don’t hold back. What’s in season changes fast. Owl Wood Farm’s snap peas have been a hit. Now, though, “That season is about done for us,” says owner Mark Bascom. Meanwhile, “green beans are just starting and we’ll start to pick them next week.”

The Saratoga Farmers’ Market is 3-6 p.m. Wednesdays and 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays at High Rock Park. Find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and check us out on the FreshFoodNY app. E-mail friends@saratogafarmers.org for volunteer opportunities.