CSA Weekly Update for July 24th-27th!
We have been busy-busy, sun up to sun down! This is one of my favorite times of year, when the spring crops are winding down and we are just getting into the mid-season crops. It helps remind us of how fresh this season is, it’s just the beginning! 🙂
The picture attached here is the cold crops for this fall’s harvest: purple cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, and traditional cauliflower. I posted a video to our Facebook page a while back with a view of the same field, a few weeks makes a huge difference in growth!
In the fields, we have been doing a lot of maintenance tasks. Including setting up an electric fence around the muskmelon patch. The entire season, we haven’t had any deer problems in the muskmelon, until Wednesday night. The buggers got in there and ate about 300 muskmelons. No need to worry though, we have 3 plantings of muskmelon, and each patch has thousands of plants. Moving forward, let’s see if the electricity can keep them out!
Large slicing tomatoes are about 3 weeks away but we should have “4th of July” tomatoes to offer in the next week or so. They are a 4oz tomato; quite a bit smaller than a traditional slicing tomato but they make up for size because they are ready for harvest usually a couple of weeks earlier than the large slicing tomatoes.
Peppers are starting to take off, we are starting to see more flowers. The only complaint we have is that early July wasn’t as hot as it could have been, peppers really like the heat. Each pepper, tomato, bean, melon, etc. all comes from flowers, so more flowers = more “fruits”. Some flower
s are even sold as food- like the zucchini flower that some cultures fry which is available at the downtown markets.
Zucchini flowers are really cool, during the cool morning hours you can see bees buzzing around these huge flowers. As soon as it gets hot outside, the flowers close up. The cool part is that they close so quickly that they can actually trap bees inside of the flowers! Believe me, we see it daily. We let them out when we hear them buzzing around in there- what a cool world we live in.
The melon patch is so thick that you can’t see there are 24 rows, each 350 feet long, because they are vining in between the rows. We will have lots and lots of watermelons for you all hopefully within a month!
This week in your CSA Share: Red Potatoes, Zucchini, Summer Squash, Pickles, Cauliflower, Beans, and Thyme!
Red potatoes are always a hit, they can be transformed into so many different meals and dishes, but are just as good if they are baked or boiled! Since we don’t spray our potatoes with a film to keep them from softening or producing eye-lets, the best way to keep them is in the fridge. Keep in mind these potatoes are dug the same day they come home with you- so try to use them as they come. During the later part of the year when the potato plants are “older” they produce a thicker skin as they grow. Those are the potatoes that you will want to keep for the offseason.
Zucchini is also a versatile veggie. I am sure everyone has heard of the zucchini noodles, which are a huge hit in the culinary world right now. Replacing carbs with vegetables provides your body with much more nutrients than a box of pasta and a lot less calories. Other ways we use our zucchini is by making breads, stir-fry’s (just add them closer to the end of cooking so they don’t get too soft), zucchini boats (cutting in half and making a small cavity in the middle to fill with meat, cheese, pasta, etc.), zucchini lasagna, using it fresh to top our salads, or add a little crunch to our sandwiches.
Want more ideas of how to use your zucchini or summer squash? Check out the blog post from Gluten Free Jess: “7 favorite Gluten Free Zucchini recipes”. I will definitely be trying the “Crunchy Zucchini Pizza Bites”!
Summer squash is on the list for this week, it is sought after because of its extremely thin skin. As many will say, they are more tender than a zucchini. As we are harvesting the squash, if it rubs on the leaves of the plants it’s already “scuffed” up a little. They just don’t look as clean as the others, as you will notice their skin bruises very easily.
Before using any summer squash or zucchini it is important to wash it because we don’t wash zucchini at all. If it’s washed even a day before use, it will soften almost immediately. There is no need to peel zucchini or summer squash. Even when I use it for breads I never peel it because it adds a little welcomed color to the breads.
Cauliflower is a seasonal treat, it is considered a cold crop. It is best harvested in the spring or fall (we have both!). It does not keep well. Refrigerate fresh cauliflower in a plastic bag and it should remain fresh for 1 week, and still be usable for up to 2 weeks. For long term storage, cauliflower can be frozen the same way as broccoli. Blanch (boil) 2-4 minutes, rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process, drain, let dry, and pack into freezer storage bags. It won’t be firm when thawed, but easily can be used in stews and soups. When we freeze broccoli, our favorite way to use it during the off season is with chicken alfredo. Just toss a frozen bag into the sauce (as long as you drained it prior to freezing) and let it warm up to temperature. Cauliflower usually gets lots of cheese, as that’s how my kids will eat it! “If daddy grows it you have to eat it” is a rule in our house, but it works even better when there is cheese, haha!
A few ways I have heard to use cauliflower lately is making spicy buffalo cauliflower, “mashed potatoes” with it, or ricing the cauliflower. Eating it raw as a side to supper is just as great because the flavor is really prominent when it’s fresh!
Beans can also be stored for winter through blanching. Boil for a few minutes until slightly softened, then dry and place in freezer bags. I use these for casseroles, whether it calls for it or not I always throw in a bag of beans! Snapping the end of with the stem is necessary, but you don’t need to snap the flowering end, or peel a string to enjoy fresh beans.
Thyme is one of the world’s oldest horticultural crops, dating back to 3000 B.C. Thyme is derived from thymon, the Greek word for courage. History notes that warriors took thyme infused baths before going off to battle, and ladies embroidered thyme sprigs onto their soldiers’ tunics.
It is a perennial, meaning it comes back each year instead of having to be replanted like basil for instance. It is often used to enhance the flavor in chicken or pork, but it is also used in flavoring tomato based sauces. When you smell it, you will recognize it as it is a part of just about every herb mix out there.