CSA Weekly Update for August 6th-10th!
Good afternoon all!
I’m reaching out to you on this rainy Saturday afternoon with your weekly CSA Update. We appreciate the rain. Half of our fields aren’t irrigated. It’s not lack of ability to irrigate, it’s lack of desire. The soil in Zimmerman is so heavy that a good rain every few weeks is enough to keep all the plants there happy and healthy (too much moisture can do damage as well). In the more sandy soil we’ve got in Big Lake & Elk River, we do have to irrigate because it drains so well that even during a rainstorm there isn’t enough moisture.
Gosh I feel like a little kid asking Ben about the tomatoes, “are they ready yet”, “are they ready yet”, “how about now”?! They’re coming along but ripening slowly. We will hopefully have them by the following week’s CSA Shares.
Muskmelon are almost ready! We harvested about 10 the other day, but once they really start ripening we could be harvesting more than a hundred a day. Melon season and tomato season are my favorites, because I add them to every meal. Either as a side or worked into the main course. They’re also special because of the way we harvest them.
Melons and tomatoes are both varieties that can be harvested early (when not ripe) and let sit to ripen off the vine. That way they last longer, but they don’t have good flavor. When tomatoes and melons have to travel far distances to get to their market, they’re almost always harvested unripe. Which is most likely what you’ll see at the grocery store, that’s why they last so long on your counter too.
Because WE ARE THE FARMERS we get to make the decisions! We ALWAYS harvest them when they’re ripe because we know this is part of what makes a CSA- locally grown produce harvested at peak and traveling short distances to your kitchens! The trade-off is a shorter shelf life for the melons and tomatoes but there is nothing sweeter than a ripe one. Word to the wise, if you get a ripe melon from your CSA Share or farmers market etc. please keep in mind they will not last a week. I tell people at most 2 or 3 days. If you cut it up and get it in the fridge it will last longer than that (up to a week in the fridge) but it’s recommended to eat right away so we can share that sweet treat with you!
Remember, we are the farmers, but you are the consumers. Your opinion matters and we hope that through our farming practices you'll see a delightful mix of fresh produce harvested at the peak of ripeness! :)
This week in your CSA Share you can expect: Yukon Gold Potatoes, Cabbage, Green Beans, Beets, Green Onions, Slicing cucumbers, Jalapenos and Green Bell Peppers!
The potatoes are getting really big now, but there will still be some smaller ones mixed in because there is natural variation in the plant growth. Not all potatoes can grow the same size J We suggest keeping potatoes in the fridge in the beginning of the season because they’re small and the skins are very thin. Now that we are a ways into the season, you could keep them on your counter because they’re skins are thickening (Yukon golds always have pretty flakey thin skin, compared to the red potatoes for example). Keep in mind, these guys have a very buttery flavor. They’re my favorite!
Cabbage is coming in our CSA Shares again this week. If you haven’t used your cabbage yet, try looking on our website under the blog and type cabbage in the search bar. You’ll see there are a lot of recipes that use cabbage! You can also use cabbage in any of the kohlrabi slaw recipes as a substitute. Cabbage lasts a very long time. If the outer leaves are softened, that doesn’t mean that the entire cabbage has gone bad. Just peel off a few layers of leaves until you get to the desirable crisp cabbage.
Green Beans are best if kept in the fridge in their plastic bag. Beans do not like moisture, so if you notice any condensation in your bag of beans (they could be warm depending on what time of the day we harvest them), put a paper towel in the bottom of the bag. You could add these to your lunch box, or whip up a quick bean stir fry with garlic and onions for a side to supper!
Green onions are often called scallions- they’re young onions that are considered “bulbless”. The flavor is more mild than the full grown onion, and their hollow tops are almost always sweet. The entire scallion can be eaten, from right above the roots to the top of the greens. To best keep them fresh, place in loosely wrapped plastic and keep in the fridge for up to a week. If you want to keep them longer, cut off about ¾ of the top greens and place the remaining scallion in a short cup of water. Replace water every 3 days and they’ll continue to be fresh. These can be added into almost anything because of their sweet flavor. They are mostly appreciated for their garnish ability- to make any dish more appetizing by adding the little bit of extra color.
Bell peppers! Bell peppers come in many colors and sizes. One fun fact about peppers: red, orange and yellow peppers are just green peppers that have ripened fully. There is no such thing as growing a red pepper for example, they will grow green until they’re of size, and then start to turn red. Remember my whole spiel about ripening in this post (above)? Yes, peppers also ripen. The difference is that peppers can be harvested when not “ripe” and still provide a wonderful fruit! Ripened peppers don’t last as long, so reds, oranges and yellow peppers will have a shorter shelf life compared to green bell peppers. (**Compare this same concept to the tomatoes and melons and their shelf lives once ripened).
In the field, they all look green right now, but we will start seeing color soon. We also grow purple, brown and white bell peppers. The purple bell peppers grow white, and then change to purple when they’re ripe. Nature is a beautiful thing!
Jalapenos will be in the boxes this week! The hot peppers will always be in a plastic bag so they don’t share their heat with the other produce varieties in there. FYI I know some of our members have tried returning the bags or rubber binders in the past and we truly appreciate that; however we can’t risk the safety of our food by reusing materials like that. Please email me if you have questions.
I’m going to make sure to give everyone a quantity to make jalapeno poppers. We will only be including jalapenos a couple times this season so we want to give you a big enough quantity when we do. That way you can save some to use later as well. They keep really well, just put them in the fridge in a sealed plastic bag in the hydrator drawer for up to 2 weeks.
The variety of the week is BEETS!
Red beets have a crimson color, sweet flavor, and red-veined leaves. Beets are rich in folate and vitamin C. Keep the greens unwashed and refrigerated in a closed plastic bag. 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, but their sweetness diminishes with time. We suggest using them within a week.
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 eventually come right off.
Beets are delicious, grated raw into a salad. Or slice them into finger-size sticks and eat raw with dip. Cube beets into a veggie stew. Serve sliced, steamed beets at room temperature tossed in olive oil with a dash of salt and pepper, or a simple vinaigrette.
Bake beets in a foil-covered roasting pan with 1/2 cup water at 400 degrees. Or boil them, until easily pierced with a sharp knife. Both methods take 45 minutes to 1 hour. Peels should slide right off. Season with butter, salt, and pepper, or with cream and chopped fresh herbs; or with a vinaigrette.
Have a wonderful week!
~The Farmer’s Wife