Farmers market hacks

 vegetables

For many of us in the Northern Hemisphere, the farmers' markets are now at their peak. The tempting array of fruits, vegetables, and herbs can be dizzying. Sometimes we pass up on certain produce because we just aren't sure if it is ripe or because we've had problems with it spoiling before we get a chance to use it. Cooking Light Magazine offers five hacks that can help us make sure we make the right choices, both at the farmers' market and when we bring our haul home.  

One conundrum shoppers face is whether that heavy watermelon is really ripe or if it's going to be pale and tasteless. Forget the time-honored "thump test", and instead use visual clues, says the magazine. Instead, look for "a deep-cream or yellow ground spot-where the melon sat on the ground as it grew - to show that it ripened adequately before harvest. Light green or whitish spots indicate underripe melons." Another hint is to look for a rind that is not too shiny or too dull. The former can indicate an underripe melon; the latter an overripe, mealy fruit. 

Morning may be the best time to shop, if you can fit it into your schedule. This is especially true for sweet corn. If you know the vendor has plucked the corn just before coming to the market,  you should grab it as early as you can. You should store corn in the refrigerator, because the cold slows down the conversion from sugar to starch. 

The opposite storage method is indicated for other farmers' market finds. Cucumbers and basil should both be stored at room temperature, according to the magazine. Basil, a tropical plant, is especially sensitive to cold temperatures and will turn black when stored below 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4.4 degrees Celsius). Instead, you should store the herb "in a cool, shady place in your kitchen, stems submerged in a glass partly filled with water. Then place a large zip-top plastic bag over the top of the basil," instructs Cooking Light

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