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5 Ways to Make the Most of Seasonal Ingredients

At last! Winter is giving way to spring, and we couldn’t be more thrilled. Along with bare legs and floral frocks, we’re welcoming the season’s bounty of delicious ingredients. After months of selling potatoes, parsnips, and other hardy winter crops, farmers' markets are awash in vibrant greens, pinks, and purples. If you’re already a ramp pro, we’ll let you be on your way. But if you’re a seasonal shopping novice, we've got tips for how to navigate the stands.

Choose Your Market

If you don’t know where your closest market is, try, which lists farmers' markets around the country and allows you to search by zip code. Pick a few and try them all—you can settle on the one you like best once you've done your research. Picking your market is like finding a go-to neighborhood restaurant: it’s about whether or not the best things are available, but also the feeling you have when you're there. Does one location never seem to have radishes, but have extra friendly farmers and a great lemonade stand? Sold! It's up to you.

Befriend the Farmers

Curiosity may kill the cat, but it will also get you fiddlehead ferns. Talk to the farmers behind the stands: Ask them what certain ingredients are, how to cook them, and what they’re most excited about at that moment (because it’ll change week to week and harvest to harvest). After talking to all of them, you'll get a sense for whom you like best, and you can start building relationships with them. And trust us, you want to do that. Having a friend at the market not only makes shopping a more pleasant experience, but it also might get you the pick of the litter. One special farmer saves us green garlic because he knows we show up late on Saturday mornings. (You know who you are. Wink!)

Make the Most of Spring

Here's the abbreviated list of the ingredients that you should seek out immediately—because they’re life- and tastebud-changing: rhubarb, fresh peas, radishes, asparagus, leeks, artichokes, fava beans, wild strawberries, morels. What are morels? Don't ask us—talk to your farmer! Go!

Default to a CSA

If all of this is a little overwhelming, you can outsource the work by joining a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). You purchase a "share" of vegetables from a regional farmer—you pay for the entire season upfront—and then he or she will deliver the goods to a drop-off location in your neighborhood. If you live alone, enlist a food-loving friend to share the bounty with you. Check for options in your area.

Get to Cooking

Some may say to only buy what you need for the week. We say go overboard—it means you'll cook that much more (brunch for friends?) and learn that much faster. Not to mention, you’ll have lots of delicious leftovers. BAGGU®'s reusable shopping bag is roomy enough to hold leafy greens, heirloom carrots, and then some, so grab whatever strikes your fancy. Get recipe inspiration on your favorite cooking website (we're partial to, of course). Type in the ingredient you want to work with that night, and start scrolling through recipes. Really read them start to finish, as you would an article, and read at least three that contain that same ingredient. That way, you get a sense for how it should be treated, and whether or not it can be worked in multiple ways.

Our biggest piece of advice? Have no fear. Farmers want to talk to you, your refrigerator wants to be full of pretty things, and you want to put a spring in your step. So go forth and get hungry.

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