If you’re heading out for a day trip and want to pack a picnic lunch for your beach visit, hike, or state park stroll, the farmers’ market is the perfect first stop. (The Maine Federation of Farmers’ Markets has a website that will help you find farmers’ markets by day of the week, and provides some information about shopping at markets using Covid-19 precautions.)
Before you hit the market, grab a bag or two of ice, and bring along a cooler. (If you are staying at bed and breakfast or short-term rental, there may be a cooler available to borrow.) Slip some utensils in your tote bag – even a folding knife will do – then shop strategically.
Farmers’ market shopping tips
- Consider selecting your baked goods first. These tend to sell out quickly. Bakers like Hootenanny Bread at the Damariscotta Farmers’ Market and B&T Baked Goods at the Augusta Farmers’ Market at Mill park offer picnic-perfect items like pretzels, cheese breads, and rolls.
- Next look for fruit. This, too, tends to sell out quickly. Pack your fruit carefully so it doesn’t get crushed on your trip. Vendors like Worcesters’ Wild Blueberries (seen at the Dover Cove Farmers’ Market and many others) will put a net over the fruit box and provide a bag, but you’ll want treat your fruit carefully and pack it last.
- Remember the cheese. If you have that penknife with you, any cheese should work, such as an aged cheddar from Balfour Farm at the Brunswick Farmers’ Market at Fort Andross. If you’ve got some plastic utensils packed, consider the many soft cheeses out there, such as fresh mozzarella from the Maine Water Buffalo Co, or soft chevre from Appleton Creamery at the Rockland Farmers’ Market.
- Look around for rinse-and-go vegetables. Baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, sweet peas, and just picked cucumbers are all perfect picnic fair, and can be found at any farmers’ market in season.
- If you’re of age and have a designated driver for the picnic, look for locally brewed beers, ales, ciders, wines, and distilled beverages. Sampling these products is allowed in some markets, so you may be able to try before you buy. For a particularly traditional note to your picnic, add an-ice cold cider like Portersfield.
- While you’re shopping, keep an eye out for charcuterie. There may be cured meats available that you can slip right into the picnic basket!
- Lastly, don’t forget the sweets! You’ll find baked goods, fudge, candies, kettle corn, and other delights at various markets.
Add these treasures carefully to your picnic fare, pack plenty of ice to keep things cool, and enjoy a memorable meal!