We’re nearly halfway through Spring and the wildflowers and the plants are in full bloom.
Though California gets fresh produce all year long, a lot of those foods are from hothouses or different regions around the world. But right now there are a ton of great fruits and veggies coming into season. One of the best ways to supplement your diet is with locally grown, in season foods, especially in as many colors as possible.
For those who attend the farmer’s markets in their local area, you’ll have already noticed the influx of new fruits and veggies. The rest of you should get out there and see what you’re missing!
(Because it’s such a big area, Los Angeles has a lot of different farmer’s markets every day of the week. Use this handy map to find the one nearest you.)
Sometimes it can be a bit daunting to select the best option out of some of the fruits and veggies you find at the farmer’s market. Or even if you get the best choices, they can perish quickly if you don’t store them properly!
Follow this quick guide to picking and storing some fresh, seasonal produce:
If you squeeze ripe apricots, they will have a small give to them. They also give off a faint, sweet scent. If you buy them fresh and unripe, you can use a folded paper bag to ripen them.
Once ripened, you can store them in a cool place or in the fridge.
It’s not so much the sight of a fresh artichoke you’re looking for, but the sound. A fresh artichoke will give off a squeak when you squeeze it. That’s one of the best ways to tell if it’s ready to end up in your kitchen.
Store a fresh artichoke at room temperature, but refrigerate if you plan on keeping it for more than a few days.
When picking asparagus, you want the tips to be tightly closed. The stems ought to be smooth, and not dried out or woody. If they are, you’ll need to cut those parts off before use.
When storing asparagus for more than a day or two in the fridge, store vertically in pitcher of water, with the tops covered in plastic. It’s best used as soon as possible.
Only pick broccoli whose flowers are dark green. Avoid picking broccoli with pale or yellowing flowers, and avoid stalks that are overly tough or firm.
Broccoli is best kept in the crisper drawer within your fridge. Treat it like lettuce, in that it will need to be used sooner than later.
When picking cauliflower, especially the white variety, look for those with firm bodies and uniform colors. You’ll want to avoid any of those that show signs of darkening or sunburned spots. Stay clear of those crowns that have soft spots on them–that indicates that the cauliflower has already begun to spoil.
Cauliflower can be stored in the crisper drawer of the fridge for a few days, especially if wrapped in plastic.
Look for chard with stems that are firm and crisp. Avoid chard that have wilting stems or darkened areas where they have been cut.
Chard will last a week or so in the crisper drawer.
When picking pea pods, look for those that are nearly uniform green in color, with no dark or soft spots. White streaks are common on sugar snap peas, and are fine for consumption.
Store peas in plastic in a crisper drawer.
Look for tomatillos that are a rich green color (not yellowish), and have husks that are dried out and paper-like.
Tomatillos store well and last a few weeks in the crisper drawer.