One of our favourite things to do as a family is to visit our local farmer’s market here in Winnipeg. We live in the prairies, with long cold winters and short hot summers, so our growing season and available local produce can be limited throughout the year.

However, as soon as the weather warms up, markets pop up all over the city with locally grown, organic options and a whole bunch of beautiful, freshly grown produce. We try and take advantage of our short growing season by stocking our kitchen full of fresh, beautiful produce when we can!

Before we head to the market, we always grab our favourite produce bags and market baskets to keep plastic to a minimum. Besides, there’s just something that doesn’t sit right with putting a beautiful bunch of freshly picked purple kale into a plastic bag.

When we’re strolling through market aisles, we’re also on the lookout for the best of the best. We all have those quaint old wives tales passed down to us from our grandparents on how to choose the perfect watermelon or test if a tomato is ripe and juicy, but we also wanted to give you a guide to choosing the best produce possible the next time you take a trip to the farmers market.

Here are a few tips for choosing some of our market favourites.

Tomatoes

Look for a deep, bold red with little or no black spots. And it’s true what your grandmother told you! A heavier, denser feeling tomato is more likely to be flavourful and juicy inside.

Strawberries

Strawberries stop ripening once they’re picked, so look for the reddest berries you can find and make sure the leaves around the top are bright green to ensure they’re as fresh as possible.

Cucumbers

Make sure that the cucumber you choose doesn’t have any yellow or discoloured spots. Stay away from wrinkled cucumbers, as these have started to dry out.

Cherries

Cherries are best when they have darker, firm, glossy skin and bright green stems. It’s also always best to keep them refrigerated once you get home!

Avocados

Finding the perfect avocado is always our mission and the best way to tell if an avocado is ripe is to simply squeeze. The fruit should yield to your grip but shouldn’t be mushy. You can also push back the stem at the top of the avocado and look for green – this means it’s ripe.

Kale

Kale has a bit of reputation for bitterness. The way to avoid this when you’re choosing a bunch at the market is to look for smaller leaves. If the leaves are course and large, they’ll be tougher and harder to chew if you plan to add them to a salad.

Finding fresh, local produce – no matter where you live – is truly one of the simple joys of summer. We hope you find the time to visit your local market throughout the summer and if you’re in need of the perfect tote or market bag, we can help with that too!