What's in the share this week?
BABY ARUGULA - Arugula has a peppery, slightly bitter flavor. It is stronger than most lettuces, so it’s often paired with other greens. Mature arugula has sturdy leaves, whereas baby arugula tends to be more tender and milder in flavor. Hotter weather makes for spicier leaves. To store: Arugula is highly perishable. Store in the fridge inside a perforated plastic bag. If you decide to wash it first, be sure to spin the leaves dry before placing them loosely into a Green Bag with a dry paper towel to absorb the moisture. To freeze: Blanch leaves in boiling water or steam for two minutes, followed by soaking in ice water. Remove from ice water and drain well. Freeze "balls" of arugula on a cookie sheet in individual portions. When frozen, pop them into a Ziploc bag.
BASIL - To store: Basil is very sensitive to cold. Keep basil in its plastic bag in the warmest part of your fridge (typically in the door). If basil gets too cold, it will turn black. To prep: Mince well. Add to butter, cream cheese, or your favorite pasta sauce. Make a batch of pesto with pine nuts, Parmesan, olive oil, salt, and garlic. To dehydrate: Remove leaves from stem and place on a piece of paper towel on a glass plate. Cover with another piece of paper towel. Microwave plate on high for 1 minute. Leaves will be dry. Crinkle them with your finger and place them in a dry container, such as a Mason jar with a lid. To freeze: Basil does not freeze well. Instead, make a batch of pesto and freeze it flat in Ziploc bags.
BEETS - Beets come in many colors -- red, gold, striped. You can eat the green tops too! To store: If your beets still have greens attached, cut them off, leaving an inch of stem. Store the beet roots, with the rootlets (or "tails") attached, unwashed, in a plastic bag in the crisper bin of your refrigerator. They will keep for several weeks. To prep: Just before cooking, scrub beets well and remove any scraggly leaves and rootlets. If your recipe calls for raw beets, peel them with a knife or a veggie peeler, then grate or cut them according to the recipe. To remove the skins, you can roast them in foil or boil them, and the peels will slip right off. To freeze: Boil or bake beets until done. Cool them in ice water or let them come to room temperature. Remove peels. Trim the beets into 1/4 inch slices or keep them whole (if they are small). Place in Ziplock freezer bag and remove as much air as possible. Seal and freeze.
CARROTS - Carrots are sweetest in the fall and winter when they start to store their sugars in the root! To store: Refrigerate these carrots in a plastic bag. You can also store them in a bin of water (like celery) to keep them crisp, hanging out the water every few days. Save the tops in a plastic bag. To prep: Organic carrots don’t need to be peeled. Boil 2-inch cubed carrots in rapidly boiling salt water, uncovered, for 7-10 minutes. To freeze: Blanch cut coins for 3 minutes in boiling salt water, dunk in cold ice water for 3 minutes, drain, let dry, and pack in airtight container.
CUCUMBERS - Cucumbers are in a family known as cucurbits that includes melons, squash, pumpkins and gourds. To store: Place cucumbers in a sealed plastic bag in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator for up to a week. To prep: Slicing cucumbers are often peeled. Pickling cukes are not. If the seeds are bulky, slice the cucumber lengthwise and scoop them out. Scoring the skin of a cucumber with a fork or zester gives it attractive stripes. Slice, dice or cut into chunks according to recipe. To freeze: You can freeze cucumbers in a vinegar brine, but they will be mushy when you eat them later. Not recommended.
EGGPLANT - Eggplant is a close relative of tomatoes, peppers and potatoes. They are smooth-skinned, oval to elongated, and range in color from white, to black to purple to pink! To store: Wrap unwashed eggplant in a towel (not plastic) to absorb any moisture, and keep it in the veggie drawer of your refrigerator. Or store unrefrigerated at a cool room temperature. Use within a week and it should still be fresh and mild. To prep: Eggplant is usually peeled. The flesh will brown when exposed to air. To prevent browning, coat in lemon juice or keep submerged in water. To use: Brush 1/2-inch to 1-inch slices of eggplant with olive oil or melted butter and broil or grill until brown. It also makes an excellent baba-ganoush dip. Casserole: chop eggplant into cubes. Layer in a Pyrex dish with tomatoes, onions, mozzarella, and basil. Sprinkle with olive oil and salt and bake at 400 F for 25 minutes. To freeze: Peel and cut into slices 1/3-inch thick. Blanch for 2 minutes in steam. Cool immediately in cold water. Package in layers with each slice separated with two pieces of wrap.
HEAD LETTUCE - To store: Store unwashed lettuce in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. To store lettuce that you have already washed and dried with a spinner, place back in a plastic bag with a dry paper towel in the bag, and place the package in the vegetable crisper bin. Use within 4 days. To prep: Slice the head at its base with a knife and let the leaves fall open. Discard any damaged or leathery outer leaves and tear large leaves into bite-size pieces. Wash leaves in a basin of cold water. Dry in a salad spinner. To freeze: Not recommended.
KALE - Kale is a member of the brassica family. Kale comes in blue-green, reddish green, and red varieties and may have flat or curly leaves. All types of kale have thick stems. It has a mild cabbage flavor when cooked. To store: Place kale unwashed, wrapped in a sealed plastic bag in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator. Best used very fresh, but may last for a week. To prep: Wash leaves in basin of lukewarm water to remove grit. If your greens have thick stems, you must remove them. Fold each leaf in half and slice out the stem. Then stack the leaves up and slice them diagonally into 1-inch-wide strips. To use: Sauté in olive oil. Use in soups, spaghetti sauce, pesto, quiche, or kale chips. You can also eat the stems. To freeze: Blanch washed greens for 2-3 minutes. Rinse in cold ice water to stop the cooking process, drain, and pack into airtight containers. Stems can also be frozen.
SALAD TURNIPS - (Save the greens to eat too!) Turnips are a root vegetable, related to arugula and radishes, which are members of the mustard family. Large or old turnips can be unpleasantly “hot” if not cooked properly or combined with the proper vegetables (like
potatoes), but younger turnips add great zip to dishes. They are best in the fall or spring, when they are small and sweet. To store: Remove the greens from the turnips and store in a plastic bag to use within 3 days. The turnip roots should be stored in a plastic bag in the crisper drawer of your fridge for up to a week. To prep: Cut off the green tops (which can be eaten as well). Wash and cut the white roots into wedges or slices. To cook: Serve raw with dip in a veggie tray. Or grate and add them to a salad. Turnips are delicious when roasted
with other root vegetables (like carrot, potatoes, rutabaga, garlic). Add a turnip or two to your favorite mashed potato recipe. Or add them into soups and stews. To freeze: Blanch for 3 minutes in hot boiling water. Cool in ice water for 3 minutes, drain and pack into freezer
containers or freezer bags.
SCALLIONS - To store: Chop off the top inch of the tender green tips and stand the scallions in an inch of water in a tall container covered loosely with a Ziplock bag, refreshing the water every 3 days. To prep: Remove roots. Chop the leaves and stem before cooking. To use: You can eat the entire scallion. Rinse scallions in cold water and snip off anything that’s floppy. Use chopped scallions as a garnish; they are less pungent. The minced greens of scallions are a good substitute for chives. Use them in stir-fry. Use scallions in almost any recipe calling for onions, raw or cooked. They are excellent in soups and stew. To freeze: Chop into desired size and place on cookie sheet and freeze. Then pop into a Ziplock baggie and store in the freezer. You can even freeze the green tops!
SUMMER SQUASH/ZUCCHINI - Summer squash is a general term for 70 different types of fast- growing, tender-skinned, soft-fleshed squash. Zucchini is the most famous, followed by yellow squash (either straight or crookneck), and scallops (or patty pan) which look like flying saucers. If you get a giant-sized zucchini, use it for making zucchini bread. It will be too tough and seedy for other recipes. To store: Store squash unwashed in a perforated plastic bag in the vegetable bin. In the refrigerator they keep for about a week. To prep: Rinse under water to remove the dirt or prickles, and slice off the stem and blossom ends. Then slice or chop. Scrape out seeds from baseball bat sized zucchinis before using them to bake. To use: Slice tender, young summer squash raw into salads. Try them in stir-fry or with pasta. Lightly steam (4-5 minutes) and dress them with fresh herbs or pesto. Or coat squash lightly in oil and roast at 350 degrees whole or sliced in half for 15-45 minutes. Stuff whole squash with your favorite stuffings. Bread them and make zuke fries. To freeze: You can freeze grated zucchini for use in breads and muffins. Squeeze as much liquid out as possible before adding to the freezer bag.
TOMATOES - To store: Do not refrigerate tomatoes. Store them at room temperature out of the sun stem side down. Putting them in a paper bag will accelerate the ripening process. Heirloom tomatoes will have strange shapes and cracks. These are highly perishable and
should be eaten within 1-2 days. To prep: If you’ll be cooking tomatoes, consider removing the skins so they don’t float around in your dish. To do so, score the end of the tomato with an “X,” dunk whole tomatoes in boiling water for 30 seconds, lift out with slotted spoon, plunge into ice water, and the skins will slide off. To freeze: Tomatoes can be frozen whole with the skin on. The skins will slide right off when they thaw. Simply pop the washed tomatoes whole into a Ziplock bag. Thawed tomatoes are appropriate only for cooking sauces, salsas, or purees.
Heirlooms and Other Tomatoes
Tomato season is often accompanied by talk of heirlooms, so I thought we'd chat a little about what that means. Heirloom tomatoes are varieties that have been around for decades, whose seed has been saved by families and people concerned with preserving an individual tomato's characteristics. Usually, heirloom tomatoes are much tastier than the modern disease-resistant varieties, and they are much more delicate. They don't hold up to transport well, so you won't often find them in grocery stores. This makes heirloom tomatoes a special farm treat!
We're growing three different varieties of heirlooms this year. Our first is called Stupice (say it like this: stoo-PEACH-kuh). It's a 2-3" red tomato with an uneven shape, and it comes from the former Czechoslovakia so it grows well in cooler climates. We've been harvesting cascades of them from the greenhouse this week, and their flavor is so bright and delicious. We have so many that I'm starting to freeze them whole in gallon bags for use in the winter.
Another heirloom tomato variety we're growing is Moskvich, which was developed in Russia and also grows well in cooler climates like ours. Moskvich is our beefsteak tomato this year and it's intensely flavorful.
The third heirloom that we have is called Striped Roman. It's a paste tomato from Italy, and it's elongated with yellow stripes down its sides. It has a nice, complex taste and cooks down really well. Paste tomatoes are notoriously slow growers, and we were late in planting ours so this one hasn't been in the share yet but it's hard to miss once you see it!
We're growing other tomato varieties, ones that aren't heirlooms. These are more modern varieties that have been bred for uniformity or other characteristics. None of these varieties are GMOs though! They were created using good old-fashioned breeding methods like hand-pollinating select plants. We've got loads and loads of the variety called Premio, which is a small slicing tomato meant to continue producing through the end of September, and a crossover variety called Bellstar that's got the thick walls of a paste tomato but the flavor and size of small slicer. The Bellstar tomatoes will be coming in all at once in the next few weeks, so if you've been wanting to can sauce, your chance will be coming soon!
Farmer Seth's Field Notes
We caught a break in the weather last week. The heat dropped down to comfortable levels and I realized that we hadn't had to irrigate the fields in several days because of all the rain showers. What a nice feeling. We took a day to trellis up the tomato plants, and I prepped beds another morning and direct seeded peas and beans, but the rest of the week was spent in harvesting and preparing for two farmers markets on Saturday.
We were called in as a substitute to the West River market in Londonderry, and they told us to bring a "ton of veg" as it's a busy market. And so we obliged! Christine cleaned out the cooler so we could fit in as many vegetables as possible. I built a second market display, and then at the end of the week Christine's parents came up from Connecticut and they volunteered to work with us. They ended up moving irrigation, harvesting tomatoes, washing and bagging arugula, and helping with the kids.
On Saturday, we packed our market van and a borrowed market van and drove in two different directions. Christine handled the Norwich Farmers Market while I went to the new one. I pulled in to set up, got out to check out how much space I had, and when I went to get back into the van I realized that somehow the van locked itself with the key in the ignition and all the vegetables still in the back. Even now I'm still not sure how it happened! Thankfully the owner of the borrowed van is our friend, and she drove over to Londonderry with a spare key. I felt pretty silly standing around for the first hour of the market, waiting for our friend. But after setting up our display, I met many nice people and sold some of the incredible amount of food we brought along. I must've made an impression with the market manager because she invited us back this week as well.
In the morning on Sunday when I went to irrigate the tomato greenhouse I noticed a lot more hornworm damage. We spent some time looking and found about two dozen fat hornworms. We thought it would be fun to offer them to the neighbor's chickens, so we collected them in a bag and brought them over. I think even the chickens were intimidated by the hornworms, they were so big. Thankfully they're out of our greenhouse, but we'll remain vigilant.
Week 10 Announcements
If you're enjoying your share, please consider leaving a review on Google or Facebook. We're starting to think about next year's CSA members, and a review will help potential members figure out if a CSA is right for them. Click this link to go directly to our Google review page, or this link for our Facebook page.
Week 10 CSA Recipes
Members can download these recipes as a PDF here. These recipes are designed to inspire you to use your share this week! Please check inside our private Facebook group to find your fellow members sharing ideas for what to make with their veggies!
Sun Dried tomatoes
Fresh Heirloom Salsa
Chopped BLT Breakfast Salad
Microwave Veggie Chips
Epic Baba Ganoush
Chickpea Salad with Carrots and Dill
Famous CSA Freezer Marinara Sauce
Grandma’s Baked Eggplant Parmesan
Sausage, Kale, and Potato Skillet Dinner
Chicken Tortellini Soup with Kale
Crispy Crab Cakes with Tomato Butter
Creamy Zucchini Blueberry Smoothie
Cherry Tomato Cobbler with Basil Ice Cream