While a finished recipe may look perfect on the cover of your favorite cookbook or magazine, attempting to mimic the dish can be a frustrating battle – a battle that often begins in the aisles of the market. The vegetables you need may not look so fresh, or, perhaps, that one key herb is impossible to find. Next time you’re preparing to whip up a masterpiece, try a different approach: Go to the market without a list and let the ripest produce of the season dictate its own destiny.
- If you have access to a farmer’s market, start your hunting there – they stock whatever the growers have most recently produced.
- Supermarket shopper? Look for falling prices and overstocked bins – this often indicates the produce is a booming crop and in its prime season.
- Consider the seasonal essentials of traditional feasts, like corn on the cob for July Fourth and tubers at Thanksgiving – these celebrations began before serious refrigeration was common, so the elements are usually perfect at this time of year.
- Remember a few general rules: Springtime’s for asparagus and autumn’s for butternut squash. Don’t look for peas in November and steer clear of the tomato trap in January.
- Pick fruits and vegetables that attract your attention with their aromatic smells. This is often a good sign that the produce is in its peak.
- Carefully handle the prospective peach or tempting tomato to make sure it feels firm but yielding to the touch.
- Look for bruises or pockmarks and make sure your choice has the brightest coloring of its kind.
- Remember that some of the most delicious organic produce may be irregularly shaped but should not be overlooked.