How to Make the Most of Fall Farmers Markets

Autumn is the best time to supplement your grocery-store run with farm-stand produce.

Photo by Whitney Pipkin.

2. Stock Up

The good news for the fall and winter months? Many of the items on display have longer shelf lives than their spring and summer counterparts. Potatoes, onions, squash and apples can last for months in cold storage. Beets with their greens lopped off can last for two to four weeks, and cabbage up to two months in the fridge. Hearty greens like dark-hued kale can hold their own for five days in the fridge or be frozen for up to three months. So if you have the storage space, don’t be afraid to buy ahead.

Looking for something new? Try the diminutive honeynut squash, which is bred to look and taste like a condensed version of its cousin, the butternut. The palm-sized squashes can be used as table centerpieces until you’re ready to roast them. A potato variety called “Vivaldi” is also appearing at more markets. Developed in Holland and similar to Yukon golds, the yellow- and white-skinned tubers are considered a low-glycemic alternative for dieters. “Purple haze” variety carrots, with the familiar orange hue on the inside, are also available in more farmers’ bulk carrot bins. Carrots can get sweeter in the winter months, so ask your farmer about the best time to buy for your flavor preferences.

The Virginia Family Nutrition Program provides some help in the weekly planning category, with five-day meal plans at varying price points to help shoppers stretch a basketful of bell peppers across several dinners. Find recipes here.

Categories: Food & Drink