CSA Weekly Update for October 1st-4th!
Although we never thought this day would actually come, this week is the end of the season. We’ve enjoyed sharing our passion for fresh produce with you and hope you’ve enjoyed your weekly Share of our harvest. Through the spring, the summer and now the fall, we’ve seen so many unique (and classic) varieties of produce. Thank you for supporting our family farm, we appreciate your membership and willingness to buy direct from your farmers :)
**See my special note to CSA Members at the bottom**
This weather seems fitting as we move into our last week of CSA Shares. Ben & I have spent all weekend trying to harvest as much as we possibly can before it freezes again and likely takes out the rest of the producing plants in the field. Once harvest is done at the end of the week, we will start removing all the fencing, organizing and storing tools & prepping the fields for the overwinter rye amongst many other tasks for wrapping up the season.
We got a hard frost on Friday night, which means that the plants will be starting to whither and yellow soon, and any exposed fruit will have damage. Remember earlier in the season when I said we weren’t going to weed anything anymore? This is the reason why. If there are weeds or bountiful foliage on the plant, it actually protects the fruits or vegetables. A great example was the peppers, some of the outer leaves were fringed and are already falling off, while there are decent sized peppers still towards the middle of the plant.
For those who purchased Apple Shares, another quick reminder, make sure to look for your extra box this week! We want to make sure you get your treats!! :)
I will be coming around on either Monday or Tuesday the following week (Oct. 8th-12th) to collect your empty boxes, so please make sure all of your boxes are returned. If you don’t return them by the time I pick up the returned boxes, they can be thrown away because it’s not plausible to make a special trip for one box at a time.
If you are still interested in getting extra produce, please send me an email right away. We can still get squash, corn, potatoes, and carrots for those who would like to process them for the off-season. Online invoices have been sent to those who have requested them, so if you’ve ordered extra produce please watch your email for that.
This week in your CSA Share you can expect: Pie Pumpkins, Honey Crisp Apples, Sweet Dumpling Squash, Russet Potatoes, Dried Onions & Carrots!
Sweet Dumpling Squash look very similar to the Carnival Squash that we got last week, with the exception of the yellow-orangish color coming out through the ridges. This squash is basically white with speckled green. It has a sweet orange flesh and is a great size for stuffing and baking. It is one of the smaller varieties of squash, which makes it great for roasting and presenting whole. It also offers the convenience of “individual” servings because they’re generally on the smaller end of the squash varieties we’ve seen so far this season. To keep the longest, store in a cool, dry, dark place at about 50*, but make sure it doesn’t freeze. Under best conditions it could keep for 3-4 months. They get sweeter in storage as the starch converts to sugars. You could also use it for a fall decoration on your table because it’s a super cute little squash!
HONEY CRISP APPLES! We partner with Apple Jack’s Orchard of Delano, Minnesota. They have quality apples, picked at the peak of ripeness from a family orchard that’s been around since the 80’s. Their Honey Crisp Apples are phenomenal and I can't wait to share them with you this week! Apples will keep best if they’re in the fridge in a plastic bag. Remember, they’re odor-absorbant, so keep them away from onions, potatoes, and other strong flavored items in the fridge.
We work with local orchards and fruit farms because we haven’t gotten into growing our own yet. Ben & I started our farm 7 years ago, and are still diligently working towards making our farm well rounded, which will one day include berries. Until then, we are happy to purchase fruits from other LOCAL farms.
Russet potatoes are coming in the shares this week! We had to wait until they were big enough, because russets aren’t like other potatoes where they can be dug at any size. They’re really only desirable when they’re medium-large, they’re not like red potatoes that are valued when they’re small (we’ve all heard of “baby reds”). They are a natural storage potato, lasting longer than any other variety in cold storage. They can be stored the same as the squash, in a cool dark place at about 50 degrees, but make sure they don’t freeze. I included a recipe this week for hasselback potatoes. It looks super fancy, but it is SUPER easy! Here is a link to that recipe!
We are also including dried onions. See the theme here? We’re giving you a lot of varieties that will store into the winter, because having fresh produce isn’t limited to the summertime! These onions can be stored along with the squash and russet potatoes, and will last for months if kept in ideal conditions.
In my kitchen, I make sure to freeze about 10# of chopped onions, in addition to the stockpile of dried onions we keep in cold storage. Freezing onions seems unnecessary because they will last a long time without being frozen. The reason I chop & freeze them is to make meal prep a little quicker, for the busy nights with activities & school stuff so we can still eat healthy. Don’t get me wrong, we are a normal family and yes of course we eat out occasionally. Having some of the cooking processes taken care of in advance makes cooking healthy homemade meals that much easier!
PIE PUMPKINS are the variety of the week!
Pie pumpkins are fun because they only come around once per season. They’re special! One comparison I like to make is looking at varieties that are harvested every day: cucumbers, zucchini, pickles, etc. Now consider varieties that have to grow all season to produce; for example watermelons, squash, pie pumpkins, & Brussel sprouts, to name a few. These are special because it literally takes ALL SEASON to get to the pie pumpkin harvest :)
To cook the pie pumpkin, cut in half and remove the seeds. Bake at 350 degrees until fork tender (30-45 minutes, depends on size). Once it’s baked, remove the flesh from the skin and that is the “pumpkin puree” that is common terminology in the recipes.
A lot of recipes you might already have call for a 15oz can of pumpkin, because they’re assuming you’re using processed pumpkin. While that is sufficient, using fresh pumpkin provides better flavor, which is true with many other varieties as well. To substitute fresh pumpkin for canned pumpkin, a 15oz can of pumpkin = 1 3/4 cup of cooked fresh pumpkin. It will also recommend extra time for the pumpkin to drain, because it does have a lot more moisture than the canned pumpkin. If you let it sit in a bowl for an hour, the water will collect around the outside of the puree (don’t use a strainer), it’ll naturally separate. **While it says to drain, I don’t usually have time & haven’t ever noticed a difference.
If you want to add to your fall decorations, give the kids paintbrushes and let them each pick a side of the pumpkin to paint! We use Crayola washable paints; when I am ready to cook it I just rinse it off & bake it. Another cute idea for painting the pumpkin is painting a happy face on one side, and a frowny face/ scary face on the other side. It’s almost time to decorate for Halloween! Pie pumpkin storage is like just squash, they like cool, dark storage conditions. It’s unlike the squash in its holding capability though- it’ll only last a couple weeks to a month at most.
I included a handful of recipes for the pie pumpkins. Most of the pie pumpkin recipes are for desserts, bars, or breads. I did find a handful that stood out to me, one was even for pumpkin meatballs! Honestly, I haven’t tried that recipe yet but it looks promising. The spices & herbs are all things we’re accustomed to.
I can’t believe this is the end of the season! I sincerely hope you’ve enjoyed my blog posts, recipes & all the silly things in between. I spend a lot of time making sure to be transparent with our farming, because I believe that’s right at the center of our success. Our success, is your success. We are all eating together, thriving and sharing our experiences together. It’s a special relationship that only Members and Farmers will ever understand...
We will be sending out a survey at the end of the season to see what priorities we will have for the 2019 season. I’ll also make an announcement on the blog here as well. Any feedback for us is good feedback.
We appreciate your efforts in supporting local farmers & our local food systems. We also appreciate the opportunity to work as a family, husband & wife team. Some days are easier than others, but the hard work always pays off. Our efforts are shared with you and it’s a very special way for us to support our family. Thank you for the wonderful season!
~The Farmer’s Wife