CSA Share Update for June 26th-29th!
We have just finished harvesting, packing and delivering the first week of CSA Shares. What a refreshing time of the year, everything is new all over again! There are a lot of variables that stay the same from year to year but the changes is what keeps farming exciting for us!
This week Ben has been working up more ground in Zimmerman. Yesterday we planted thousands of cold crops, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, and more! Lots of treats in store for us this fall! We do have broccoli coming for early season, just started heading a few days ago so I would guess in about 3 weeks we will have it in the CSA Shares!
A lot of folks ask us how the season is going in general, here is my response: GREAT! The ground in Zimmerman is basically peat soil, so we aren’t having barely any pest problems! And if you’re like me, and spent a whole day before squishing bugs, this is really exciting! Our only complaint would be that the overnight temperatures in the middle of May were in the 40’s, which is cold for that time of year. If it would have stayed in the 50’s at least we would have already had our peas in the Shares. The overnight temperatures make such a big difference in crops because that’s when the plants are physically growing.
Thank you to all of our members who helped make the first week a success! I did send out an email titled “CSA Share Important Site Specific Information” to every CSA Share member, please let me know if you did not receive this. Sometimes it will go to the junk folder, but if you add my email to your contacts it will never go to the junk folder. I don’t often send emails but when I occasionally do, it is important information. In the email sent out almost 2 weeks ago now, it also includes your schedule for the holiday weeks.
I mentioned last week that these early spring varieties are special to us because they are only available for a couple of weeks in the beginning of the season. Here is another great example of cold tolerant crops!
This week in your CSA Share: Romaine Lettuce, Buttercrunch Lettuce, Swiss Chard, Kohlrabi, Icicle Radishes, Chives & Snow Peas!
The best way to handle your CSA Share is prepping all of your produce right away. If you wash, chop, or dice your produce and store it properly it will maintain better flavor and stay fresh for a longer period of time in the fridge. For me, it’s easier to make a salad for lunch if it’s all ready to eat, that way we can still eat healthy even though we are always on the go! There are no excuses to avoid a salad if it’s as easy as dressing it 🙂
Our romaine lettuce doesn’t look like the romaine hearts you get at the store. When you buy romaine from the store, they cut the heart out to sell separately from the outside leaves that aren’t as tight. Straight from the farm we cut it at the base, dunk it in the washtub (only water), and pack it into the CSA Shares! One of the best things about this time of year is the salads in our house. Top them however you want but we eat them for at least a meal a day because the lettuces are so fresh!
Buttercrunch lettuce grows pretty flat (you will see what I mean); it grows out, not up. Buttercrunch is a hot variety at the markets right now, sought after for the leaves that are almost a spinach consistency (very porous) but with a good crunch!
Swiss Chard is a variety that we are happy to be able share with you this season. For those who were with us last season, the swiss chard was damaged by heavy rainfall, it made the leaves soften and get spots. We had to till that crop in. So this is a special treat!
The best way to handle the leafy greens is to prep them all right away. Cut and wash the lettuces & chard to remove the dirt stuck between the leaves. Using your fingers to run up and down the center of your lettuce leaves to help remove grit that is not noticeable to the naked eye. Once it is washed, store it in a plastic bag with a paper towel at the bottom to keep it for the longest.
Repeat CSA Share members, remember how last season the sand was really hard to wash out of the lettuces? This season we grew all of our lettuces in the peat soil in Zimmerman so that you wouldn’t have to work so hard to get the sand out! We appreciate you and really do keep our members in mind at every turn.
Kohlrabi could be a variety that is brand new to some members, it’s so exciting to try new things! It has an edible bulb on the bottom, with long leafy greens on the top. At the farmer’s markets you will see the kohlrabi with the greens cut off most of the time because they are not always the freshest. Keeping the greens on and noticing that they are not wilting is a great way to gauge freshness! Plus, they are completely edible, so why waste the greens.
Store the bulb and leaves of the kohlrabi separately. The bulb will last for up to a month in the refrigerator in a plastic bag, the leaves will keep best in the hydrator drawer with a damp paper towel wrapped around them. You do need to peel the bulb before eating it. Kohlrabi can be used in salads, cut into sticks and eaten with a vegetable dip, or cooked with. Use the greens as soon as possible because no matter how much effort you put into storing them, greens don’t stay firm for a very long time. When using the greens fresh, it is suggested to remove the center rib, as it is firm and can have a different flavor than the rest of the leaves. Kohlrabi leaves can also be cooked with, similar to collard greens, a southern favorite.
Icicle Radishes are comparable to the red globe radishes in flavor. However, they grow as elongated white “icicles” and take quite a bit longer to grow from seed to harvest. Store the radishes separate from the greens to maintain firmness; the bulbs could potentially last up to a month in the fridge if kept in a plastic bag. The greens will not last longer than a few days, so you will want to get to those fairly quickly. They are comparable in flavor to arugula, it definitely has a spice. Best when tossed in a salad with other greens or sautéed to remove some of the heat (depending on personal preference).
We are just starting to get into some herbs! This week we have chives to offer, but I am especially excited that we have an entire season to hopefully expose our members to a few new varieties! At home in our kitchen, I have been trying to use the flavor from herbs to replace all the salts that I normally use in my cooking. It doesn’t ever eliminate the need for a little salt, but it sure does add to whatever dish I am making with fresh herbs!
Chives will come as a bunch in your CSA Share. In general, the best way to keep them fresh is to wrap the base of the bunch in a moist paper towel. Then stand the bunch up in a plastic cup, and use a sandwich sized baggie to drape over the top of the bunch. You will see these recommendations with most of the herbs we have to offer throughout the season. If you don’t think you will use your chives this week, you can dry them to use later. To dry chives, hang them upside down by the rubber binder holding the bunch together in a warm, well ventilated area until dry. When you go to slice them into smaller bits, use a very sharp knife or the chives will flake into irregularly sized pieces.