What's in the share this week? (All this plus carrots!)
BASIL - To store: Basil is very sensitive to cold. Do not refrigerate fresh basil; it will turn black. Instead, place stems in a glass of water on the kitchen counter like a flower. 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, BABY SIZE - 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: Remove the green tops as soon as you can, leaving about an inch of stems. 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. Fresh carrot tops can be chopped into a green salad or stir-fry too! The greens can be dried and used as an herb like parsley. 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.
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.
LETTUCE MIX - To store: Place lettuce mix 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: Discard any damaged or leathery 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.
NAPA CABBAGE - Napa or Chinese cabbage has tall crinkly leaves, and the heads are not as tightly as the regular kind of cabbage. To store: Place whole in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to a week. Use quickly before the leaves yellow. To prep: To prepare the entire head at once, cut it in half lengthwise, remove the core, and chop as desired. You can slice the leaves from the stem. Chop the stems and use them in stir fry. To use: Napa is great sliced and sautéed with onions and garlic. It goes well in a stir fry or soup. For a caramelized flavor, cut the cabbage into wedges and roast them until the cabbage is tender. Or slice in half and grill the entire wedge until charred. To freeze: Cut into quarters, wedges, or shred it. Cook in boiling pot of water for 90 seconds. Douse in ice water to stop the cooking process. Drain the cabbage and dry as much as possible. Place in Ziplock freezer bags and remove as much air as possible.
RADICCHIO - Radicchio is a member of the lettuce family and has a bitter, peppery taste. Raw radicchio provides a pretty accent for a green salad, while cooked radicchio gives a wonderful savory-sweetness to a dish. To store: Keep unwashed radicchio in a perforated plastic bag in the crisper for up to a week. To prep: Discard any old limp outer leaves and wash the head in cold water. To cook: Radicchio is sometimes sliced and added to salads, but really shines when cooked a bit. Halved and brushed with oil, it's great on the grill. It pairs particularly well with olives, blue cheese, apples, and walnuts. To cut the bitterness, boil the leaves until just tender and dress with lemon juice or vinegar and salt. You can also sauté or stir-fry in oil or butter. To roast radicchio: quarter tight heads or halve loose heads, lightly coat them in oil, and roast at 425 degrees for 20 minutes, turning halfway through cooking. To freeze: Blanch for 1 minute in hot boiling water. Cool in ice water for 1 minute, drain, and pack into muffin cups or ice cube trays to freeze.
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!
SPINACH - To store: Keep dry, unwashed greens in a sealed plastic bag in the refrigerator up to 2 weeks. To prep: Wash leaves in basin of lukewarm water to remove grit. Spin dry. To cook: Add uncooked spinach to a mixed green salad. Blanch spinach until it wilts, 2-4 minutes, or steam for 5-8 minutes. Sauté greens until tender in a covered pot or large sauté pan with olive oil, a pinch of salt, and garlic or onion. Watch for color to brighten as this signals it is done. To freeze: Blanch washed greens for 1 minute. Rinse in cold water to stop the cooking process, drain, and pack into airtight containers. Freeze.
SWISS CHARD - Swiss chard has expansive, pocketed leaves with stems in a spectrum of colors: red, white, green, yellow. It is actually in the beet family but doesn't develop a bulb. Its leaves are more tender and delicate than other greens. Eat small leaves raw in salads and blanch or steam larger leaves. You can freeze chard for recipes later To store: Keep dry, unwashed greens in a sealed plastic bag in the refrigerator up to 2 weeks. To prep: Wash leaves in basin of lukewarm water to remove grit. Remove the thicker stems by folding the leaves down the center and cutting out the stem. Stack several leaves on top of each other and slice into 1-inch wide ribbons. To use: Add uncooked greens to a mixed green salad. Steam stem pieces 8-10 minutes, and leaves 4-6 minutes. Or sauté greens until tender in a large sauté pan with olive oil, a pinch of salt, and garlic or onion. Watch for color to brighten as this signals they are done. Serve cooked chard alone as a side dish or use them in soup or with pasta, beans, rice, or potatoes. Chard also goes great in stir-fries or in any recipe calling for spinach. To freeze: Blanch washed greens for 2-3 minutes. Rinse in cold ice water to stop the cooking. Drain and freeze.
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.
What's So Great About Organic?
We had another interesting conversation at the farmers market this past weekend. A young couple came up to us and asked why we were organic and why it mattered. Seth caught them before I did, and he talked about, among other things, the difference between conventional fertilizers and pesticides versus organic fertilizers and pesticides. In organic agriculture, we do use both fertilizers and pesticides. The difference is that organic fertilizers and pesticides are not synthetic. The fertilizers are made from things like chicken manure, seed meal, or minerals mined from rock. The pesticides are made from seeds or bacteria. These are substances the body can break down. They don't harm the environment by leaving microplastics in the soil, and they don't harm humans and animals who ingest the residue on farm crops.
There are other benefits to growing organically. Organic soil sequesters more nutrients so the vegetables are healthier for you to eat, and organic soil can also become a carbon sink provided you're practicing low-till agriculture (like we are). This means organic soil can help remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere! It's all in how you practice it.
I'm glad to be farming organically for our sake, for our kids' sake, and for the sake of our soil and our small ecosystem here on the farm. When we talk about monitoring crops for pests, we're hand-picking bugs, setting up insectaries to attract beneficial insects, or using an organic spray that's made out of bacteria or oil from certain types of seeds. When we talk about prepping beds, we're laying down organic fertilizers and we're setting up our fields to have permanent beds so we turn the soil as little as possible. We love to talk about this stuff!
Farmer Seth's Field Notes
First thing last week I laid down some organic fertilizer before seeding directly into several new beds that I had prepared when Maevis was with us the week before. I put in a new generation of arugula, mustards, radishes, baby kale, and turnips, as well as a couple of beds of carrots. While I was doing that, Christine used our Paperpot transplanter to put in two new beds of lettuce seedlings. Then we watered using low, gentle sprinklers for the seeded crops and taller sprinklers for the lettuce. It was a hot day and we were worried that the new lettuces would dry out, but the sprinklers worked their magic. Not only that, but within two days many of our seeded crops had sprouted! A combination of correct watering and warm sun did the trick. I love to see even germination on my seeded crops like with this next generation, it's very satisfying.
On a day when our babysitter was off, we took the kids out to the field while we prepared new tomato beds by putting in organic fertilizer, drip tape, and landscape fabric. Christine burned holes in the landscape fabric with a propane torch while I used our walk-behind tractor to make new beds so we can put in our fall seedlings in the next few weeks. Christine planted out a batch of cherry tomatoes and I began to trellis them. It's a little late for cherry tomatoes to go in but wanted to make sure that you all get cherry tomatoes in your CSA shares. We'll baby the tomato plants along and see how they do. The hot day took its toll on the kids (and us!) so we were unable to finish, however a neighbor invited us for a quick pre-dinner swim. I feel lucky that we were able to get away for an hour. It's unusual for us to take time to relax in the middle of the growing season, so even these small getaways feel great. Farming with kids isn't easy, but we love that our kids are out there in the fields with us, learning about food and nature -- or sometimes taking a quick nap.
We harvested for CSA shares and farmers market throughout the week. We had another nice day at farmers market: we found a super tasty recipe for the napa cabbages and handed that out to customers. We tried it ourselves and found it delicious. You can check it out in the recipes this week, it's called Melting Napa Cabbage.
Week 5 Announcements
One week left of the CSA Bingo challenge! Use our CSA bingo card and get 5 in a row over. Once you get 5, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to enter your name and we'll pick two winners. Winners receive their choice of either a dozen eggs or a flower bouquet.
Watch our weekly share unpacking video on Facebook! I talk about tips for storage, recipes, and share what successes and failures I've had with my veggies for the week. You can find the Facebook group at this link. If you aren’t on Facebook, we upload the unboxing video into the CSA Member Resource Library so you can watch there.
We're now offering eggs, thanks to McNaughton Farm in Weathersfield, VT. They have 100+ happy hens in a chicken wagon who free range on pasture. Their hens are fed with local, non-organic grain. You can pre-order them in our farm store and pay when you pick up your share, or bring cash to the pickup and we'll have some extras.
Week 5 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 box! Share a photo and you might be featured in next week’s newsletter!
Easy Breakfast Salad
Quick Pickled Beets
French Grated Carrot Salad with Lemon Dijon Vinaigrette
Creamy Cucumber Salad
Garlic Parmesan Kale Pasta
Melting Napa Cabbage
Tuna, Avocado and Spring Mix Salad
Radicchio Sheet Pan
Bitter Greens Salad with Melted Cheese
Pan-Roasted Hakurei Turnips with Honey
Chinese Scallion Pancake – Simplified Version
Zucchini Stir Fry
One Pan Garlic Butter Salmon and Swiss Chard
Chocolate Chip Zucchini Brownies