CSA Weekly Update for July 31st- August 3rd!
Happy Friday all!
I hope your week is going well! Can you believe it is almost August already!?
We have been staying busy in the fields this week, a lot of maintenance tasks at this time of year; weeding, cultivating, and using the hand powered tiller.
We cultivate in between the rows using equipment on the tractor. Keeping the weeds down in the middle of the rows in very important because if the weeds get too tall and get to the seed stage of their lifecycle, they will spread like wildfire and become a greater problem for years to come. After we cultivate, we ho in between the rows around each plant to keep the weeds from towering over the produce and taking their much needed sunlight, nutrition from the surrounding soil, and moisture! Most of our field space isn’t irrigated at all, so it’s important that our plants don’t have to share.
Ben has been seeding the fall crop of lettuces this week. Almost all of the other varieties are out of the greenhouse and in the field already. The deer are out of the muskmelon, which means the solar powered electric fence is working! But the deer are never the only pest, there are a ton of creatures that can go above or below the fencing. We are constantly changing up our field pest tactics because they seem to get smarter as we go.
Last week we were hoping to have cauliflower for all of our members, and this week we were hoping to have cabbage for all of our members. The problem with cold crops is that they aren’t all the same size at the same time. There is a lot of fluctuation in cold crops. If you received Cauliflower last week, you will receive Cabbage this week. If you received Cabbage last week, you will receive cauliflower this week.
This week in your CSA Share you can expect: SWEET CORN, Beans, Zucchini, Summer Squash, Cucumbers, and Cabbage or Cauliflower(whichever you didn’t get last week).
Sweet corn is harvested at the peak of ripeness, although some have preference for the biggest ears of sweet corn, some have preference for the smaller ears of sweet corn. Throughout this season you will see a mix of both I am sure. Since there are several corn plantings, one week the corn could be on the bigger side, and the following week from a new patch could be on the smaller side.
The reason some people like the smaller ears is because they are higher in sugar content than the larger ears, which are higher in the starch content. The larger ears provide a bigger bite, and a higher yield if you are cutting the corn off the cob (freezing it for instance). With sweet corn, it is very important to try to eat it right away. As soon as it is harvested the sugars in each kernel start to decompose and their chemical structure changes to starches. If you keep it refrigerated in the husk, you can slow down the process of it turning from sugars to starches. If you try to eat the corn even a week later after taking it out of the fridge, it will still be good, but it won’t be as good as if you ate it the same day we harvested it!
Corn is very easy to freeze as well, I will provide more details for storing corn once we get a few weeks in, as right now I am sure no one is willing to set aside their fresh sweet corn for the off-season quite yet!
To cook corn, steam in 1-2 inches of water for about 8 minutes, or boil in a pot of water for 3-6 minutes. I was boiling our corn for about twice as long as I should have, so I wanted to make sure to share this in case there are others like me out there participating in our CSA Shares.
Beans are coming again in the shares! If you would like to start putting some up for winter, break off the tip with the stem on it and cut the beans into bite sized pieces. Boil for 2-3 minutes until slightly softened and place in freezer bags. We will continue to work in the color mixes as the season progresses, lots to look forward to together!
Zucchini and Summer Squash are best kept in the fridge. If it is firm, it is still good to use. If it is softened a little, consider shredding it for zucchini bread or cooking with it, shishkabobs on the grill, stir fry, and zucchini fritters are a few ideas. Remember, zucchini and summer squash don’t always look the prettiest- they have thin skins and can be marked up just from picking them off of the plant.
Members, please keep in mind that if you ever have any questions about the produce in your CSA Share box or want a few more ideas of how to use it, just send me an email and I would be happy to expand more!
Slicing cucumbers are a summer staple, this is the first week of many. Cucumbers and pickles will be a staple because I consider them a “snacking” variety. It is one variety that you can take out of the box and eat just as is, it doesn’t need any prep work or to be cooked with for example. Slicing cucumbers do have a little thicker skin, and the waxy feeling is natural (not treated at all). Most people like to peel cucumbers, but it isn’t necessary; a lot of the nutrient value is in the skin.
Cabbage/ Cauliflower. All of our CSA Share members received one this week, the other will be coming this week. We had to split the weeks because there was not a high enough yield of large cauliflower at one time, as is a common challenge with cold crops.
Cabbage can be kept in the hydrator drawer of your fridge for up to 2 months! Cabbage is composed of 90% water but still contains a significant quantity of vitamins A, C, calcium, potassium and magnesium, and at only 15 calories per cup! It is best to eat cabbage raw or slightly cooked, as overcooking it can produce a strong odor and flavor. We are offering green cabbage this week, but will have purple cabbage as well for the fall’s harvest!
Cauliflower does not keep as well. It will remain fresh for 1 week in a plastic bag in the fridge, but should be used within 2 weeks. It can be eaten raw, or turned into many fun different dishes, one of the most popular that I am seeing now is buffalo cauliflower.