What's in the share this week? (All this plus carrots!)
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: 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.
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!
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.
Season Extension and Staying One Step Ahead
It's the height of summer season in the fields, and we're pulling tons of veg from our beds. Our brains are always churning, making sure weekly tasks get done like weeding, watering, trellising, and harvesting. But we're also beginning to prep for the winter season. This means we're thinking about seeding storage crops like beets, carrots, onion, daikon radish (so good! I hope you'll try some this year when it comes time), and mentally preparing our field greenhouses for their crops of winter greens.
It's good timing; when we were at farmers market this past week, the market manager asked if we would be a part of their winter market, which runs from December to May. It's a big proposition, trying to provide enough produce for the six coldest months of the year. We're still putting first-year infrastructure in place, and now we're thinking about extending our growing season by months and months.
We haven't decided one way or another, but it's been on our minds. As I'm bunching beets I'm thinking about cut flower harvests to make wreaths come wintertime. Seth and I talk about which varieties of vegetables we want to direct sow, whether or not we can store our root crops in our cooler for the duration of winter, what kinds of microgreens we can grow, and if our kale plants will keep until next spring. This is all part and parcel of being full-time farmers, managing these ideas along with managing our fields and our beds and our tasks. Should we have a share distribution right before Thanksgiving? One before the end of the year? What could we offer? Farming is like a big puzzle. But really it's the best kind of puzzle, because we're outside in the sun, helping plants grow, and talking food with an awesome community of people.
Farmer Christine's Field Notes
We started the week by finishing planting the cherry tomatoes, putting insect netting over our newly emerged crops that Seth talked about last week, and trellising up the tomatoes in the tomato tunnel. They've already grown so much! Taking the suckers off the tomato plants is a never-ending job, but as far as farmwork goes it's pretty relaxing. It also leaves a lovely green color on your fingers. There are tons of green tomato clusters in the tunnel and I'm so ready for them to start blushing up.
Another day we prepped the beds, then laid out and burned holes in landscape fabric for our next round of zucchini and summer squash plants. Then we planted into them and covered them with our lightweight row cover to protect them from the dreaded squash beetle and help keep the soil warm at night. They look good and we got a bit of rain so they were nice and watered in. There was also some weeding in the carrot bed, helping to clean that up, and we rounded out our non-harvest work for the week by getting started building our chicken coop so we can move our chickens onto the property and sell our own eggs. We'll be getting two dozen fully-grown chickens from a neighbor and we're all looking forward to it. Chickens eat compost which means we'll be reducing our food waste as well as collecting eggs, and they have such funny personalities too. If only I could teach them to catch the flies that are magnetically attracted to my kitchen!
We harvested two mornings last week, but we were stymied one afternoon by that heavy downpour. No matter -- we were still able to pull 100 pounds of cucumbers out of the fields the day before our farmers market. And our market day was good weather and good conversation. We're seeing a lot of people on their summer vacations at the markets, as well as some regular customers, and it's interesting to see how everyone's vegetable needs differ. It's a nice way to end the week, talking to people and being social. We fall into bed most Saturday nights and could sleep Sunday away if our internal farmer clocks weren't set on waking up so early. One of these days!
Week 6 Announcements
We have a CSA Bingo winner! Congratulations to Catherine Gellatly, who got five in a row and emailed us her card. Catherine, you can choose either a dozen eggs or a flower bouquet as your prize, let us know!
My apologies for not uploading our CSA share unpacking video last week! Facebook rejected it three times over the course of three days because it was too long. Consequently, our weekly share unpacking video will be a live Facebook video this week, sometime on Wednesday late afternoon. You can find the Facebook group at this link. If you aren’t on Facebook, we will upload the unboxing video as usual 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 6 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!
Green Nests (Nidi di Erbucce)
Tzatziki Greek Yogurt Cucumber Dip
Beets, Tomatoes, and Cilantro Salad
Napa Cabbage Salad
Honey Whipped Carrots
Beet Pizza with Beet Leaf Pesto
Italian Ricotta Greens Dumplings
Adam Liaw’s Steak with Barbecued Greens
One Pot Braised Chicken with Kale and White Beans
Mint Cucumber Cupcakes with Rose Frosting