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.
BUNCHED MUSTARD GREENS - Mustard greens are peppery-tasting greens that come from the mustard plant. This is part of the Brassica family, which includes kale, collard greens, broccoli, and cauliflower, among others. There are several varieties, which are usually green or red and have a mild spicy flavor. Hotter weather makes for spicier leaves. To store: Spin water out of leaves and store in a plastic Ziploc bag with a dry paper towel inside to absorb moisture. To prep: slice off tough bottoms of stems, and chop or mince leaves and remaining stem together. To cook: Add uncooked mustards to to a mixed green salad, or use in place of lettuce when you won't mind a bit of spice (think for tacos). Mix mustards with other milder greens and sauté until tender in a covered pot or large sauté pan with olive oil, a pinch of salt, and garlic or onion. Mustards are done once wilted, which should only take a minute or two.
BABY KALE IRON MAN MIX - This is a blend of three different types of kale, all of them tiny, tender, and delicious. Treat this like you would baby arugula or baby mustards. To store: Spin water out of leaves and store in a plastic Ziploc bag with a dry paper towel inside to absorb moisture. To prep: chop or mince leaves and stems together. To cook: Add uncooked kale to to a mixed green salad, or use in place of lettuce when you want a heartier flavor in a dish. Mix with other milder greens and sauté until tender in a covered pot or large sauté pan with olive oil, a pinch of salt, and garlic or onion. Baby kale is done once wilted, which should only take a minute or two.
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.
RADISHES - (Save the greens to eat too!) To store: Remove radish leaves if they are still attached. Store the unwashed greens in a loosely wrapped plastic bag in the crisper bin of your refrigerator. Store radish roots unwashed in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for 1 week. To prep: Scrub radishes well. Trim off the stem and rootlets. To use: Eat radishes raw with a sprinkle of salt. Slice radishes into matchsticks or grate them and add to slaws and salads. Try small young radish leaves in salads or scrambled eggs. Blanch whole radishes in boiling, salt water for 5-10 minutes, or steam them until just tender, 8-12 minutes. Top with butter, salt, and pepper or with a vinaigrette. They’re also great grilled and pickled. Radish greens are
slightly hairy and are best cooked or blanched.
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.
We reached a farm milestone this week and saw our first hornworm damage. I'd rather not have reached this milestone, but after a while farming I've learned that some things are inevitable, including pests! Hornworms would be kind of cool if they didn't have such voracious appetites for tomatoes and tomato plants.
Hornworms hiss if you startle them, and they have a series of fake eyes down their body to deter predators. The horn is a bluff as well, meant to scare off bigger bad guys. Seth took that picture of one above, but they are notoriously difficult to see when they're on tomato plants. Their bodies look just like curled tomato leaves. Apparently they will glow if you shine a blacklight on them at night, but we haven't tried that yet. Maybe this week!
If you're a lucky farmer, a parasitic wasp will lay its eggs in the hornworm, and when the larvae hatch they'll eat the hornworm from the inside out. It's another neat thing to see, a hornworm with parasitic wasp cocoons sprouting out of its back like spines. If we find one, we'll get another picture to show you.
Addie and I collected a hornworm this morning and we're saving it to feed to the neighbor's chickens. Hopefully we'll find a few more and prevent them from getting a footing in the tomato house. In the meantime, the hornworm is living its best life in a glass jar in the kitchen, munching away on some pruned tomato stems.
Farmer Seth's Field Notes
This week was super hot, which was the perfect time to do a bit of weeding. We used wire hoes to knock back the grass cropping up in our newly seeded carrot beds and in the scallions, lettuces, peppers, and eggplants that are coming along. A wire hoe is a long handled tool with a head made out of wire. It looks like a smaller, thinner triangle percussion instrument. It's easy to maneuver, lightweight, and helps us get right up close to the plant stems. We still needed to get on our hands and knees to pull out the longest grass, but the wire hoe made quick work of the rest. In the hot sun, the weeds have no time to recover from being uprooted and die quickly.
One day this week we planted out a bed of parsley, and I seeded some more beets so we can have plenty to store for the late fall and winter markets. I got the beets in and then we had a big storm, which washed away some of the soil on the beet beds. The beets germinated, however, they were too small for me to take a hoe and move the soil back into the beds without disrupting the beets' tiny roots. I'll be able to get at them a bit more next week. I was also able to mow down all of the beds in front of the tomato house, and we moved some tarps around to give us nice, clean beds in a few months. As usual, we trellised some tomatoes but ran out of tomato clips so it's looking a bit like a jungle in the tomato house.
When it came to harvesting, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the turnips were ready for CSA. I thought they would be another week out, but they sized up nice and early. We harvested -- the cucumbers are finally slowing down! -- and went to market, sharing more of our recipes with the market-goers. One of our customers insisted on taking a picture with me and the vegetables in the booth, and then emailed it along. I'm glad our veggies inspire such admiration!
Week 9 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 9 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!
Vegetable Supreme Egg Bake
Farmers Market Breakfast Bread
Baby Kale and Chicken Caesar
Farmer’s Market Open-Faced Sandwich
Bread and Butter Pickles Canning Recipe
Parmesan Crusted Zucchini Spears
Farmers Market Vegetable, Beef, & Brown Rice Salad
Roasted Enchilada Sauce
Farmers Market Veggie Enchiladas
Penne with Kale and Sausage
Roasted Beet and Tomato “Vegetable Medley” Bloody Mary Recipe
Cucumber and Lemon Popsicles