CSA Weekly Update for September 10th-14h!
I hope that everyone had a great Labor Day week! Now that our first week of school has passed and the hustle & bustle of the holiday week has settled down, I’m starting to realize this is the true transition into fall. My favorite time of year!! Has everyone had their pumpkin spice coffee drink already? ;)
Our farm season has 3 “sub-seasons” as I like to think of it. The spring is filled with lots of leafy greens, peas, and berries, the summer with tomatoes, zucchini, slicing cucumbers, eggplant and now we are transitioning into the fall, the time of winter squash, hearty root crops, overwintering produce and treats like the Honey Crisp apples!
This is the time to plan for the winter, where does your food come from? If you have leftovers from your CSA Share on a week to week basis, consider storing it for the off-season. Eating locally can be year-round. We do a bit of canning around our house, for example we make sauces, stewed tomatoes, pickles, jelly to name a couple. The majority of the produce we save for the off-season isn’t canned though, we freeze and dry a LOT of produce. Freezing is my favorite way to store produce. Going into the winter I always make sure to have at least a handful of family sized servings for each veggie. I will elaborate on how to freeze/ process these varieties below.
Apple Shares are new this year! As always, Honey Crisp apples will be included in one week of your CSA Share. This year, in addition to the apples being included in your share boxes, we are offering Apple Shares which is a separate box full of apples delivered at the same time as your CSA Share late Sept/ early October. Since we’re buying them in bulk from our favorite orchard, Apple Jacks of Delano, we’re passing this great price down to you!
The 5/9th bushel box (Half Share sized box) costs $50, which is about 25 pounds. It ends up at about $2 per pound. If you’d like to purchase an apple share, the easiest way is on our website. I will send confirmation when the apples will be delivered alongside your CSA Share. Purchase your Apple Share here!
This week in your CSA Share you can expect: Watermelon, Broccoli, Cabbage, Squash (Butternut or Sunshine Buttercup), Muskmelon, and Banana Peppers!
We are including either Butternut or Sunshine Buttercup squash in the CSA Shares this week. Last week, we planned on adding butternuts and then realized the field was too wet at the end to get into it and pick the squash. If you pick butternuts when they’re wet, they almost look stained because of how delicate their skin is. So, we replaced half of your squash last week with Sunshine Buttercups. Whatever squash you didn’t get last week is the squash you’ll get this week.
The Sunshine Squash has a golden orange flesh (which is a tender stringless flesh) providing a sweet nutty flavor as a side dish, as a filling for pies, as a soup squash, or when prepared in baked goods. Store in a cool, dry, dark place at around 50 degrees, but make sure they do not freeze. Under the best conditions, they should keep for 3-4 months. They get sweeter in storage as the starch converts to sugar!
Remember, you’ll be getting a lot of squash this fall. So dive right into your CSA Share and eat them as they come, or store them in a fancy bowl on the kitchen table. They’ll serve as a beautiful table decoration for the harvest season!
Peppers and squash are about the easiest thing to freeze. With squash, just cook it until it’s tender (fully cooked), let it cool and then scoop out the squash into plastic freezer zip-lock bags. Squash texture isn’t going to be affected by freezing it, so you can take it out of the freezer and bake with it, or add it as a side to supper.
Squash serves as a great baby food as well. Freeze the squash in an ice cube tray, pop out the cubes and put them in a plastic bag. Whenever you’re ready to use it, take out a baby-sizes serving of squash! The same can be done with carrots and many other root crops.
We are including sweet banana peppers this week! They’re colorful and super sweet at this time of year. It’s getting cool outside and as they ripen, they just keep getting sweeter & sweeter! You’ll notice that as the pepper continues to ripen, it will also soften. Keep these in the fridge in a sealed plastic bag for up to 2 weeks.
Going back to the idea that we can all be keeping some of our produce for the off season, peppers are one of the easiest varieties to put up because they don’t have to be processed at all before freezing them. Just rinse the peppers and make sure they’re totally clean, then cut into your desired sizes. Put them in a plastic bag and squish out the excess air. I keep peppers in several sizes; the larger pieces ~1-2 inch chunks are for stir-fries, and then the diced peppers for either breakfast potatoes, or my sloppy joe recipe for example. When you take peppers out of the freezer, you’ll notice they will be soft. They shouldn’t be used raw because they won’t have the same crunch, they’re meant to be taken out of the freezer and cooked with.
Cabbage is a classic late fall variety because of its cold tolerance. They are harvestable at any size in their growth and don’t require a ripening process. Whereas a squash or tomato would need to ripen before harvest. In the last week or so we’ve gotten a TON of rain. It’s resulted in built up pressure in the cabbages. When Ben cuts the cabbage, a lot of them are “popping” as he called it. There are small cracks on the bottom of the cabbages, but that doesn’t take away from the freshness or edibility of the cabbages.
Are you dreading cabbage? Don't worry! We have a lot of recipes on the blog for cabbage. To name a few that I've already posted this season; green cabbage coleslaw, eggroll bowls, roasted cabbage wedges, savory cabbage pancakes, & kohlrabi slaw- I use half kohlrabi and half cabbage. To find these recipes and many more, click the search bar at the top of the blog page and type in your veggie or keyword.
Cabbage has a remarkable storage capacity. Just stick dry, unwashed cabbage in the refrigerator, preferably in the vegetable bin. The outer leaves may eventually get floppy or yellowish, but they can be removed and discarded to reveal fresh inner leaves. Cabbage can keep for 3 months with high humidity! Once cut, wrap it in a sealed plastic bag and continue to refrigerate; it will keep for several weeks. Start by rinsing the cabbage under cold water just prior to use. Cut cabbage head first into quarters, then diagonally across the wedge. Be sure to remove the stem end and triangular core near the base. Try it raw, in salads, cooked, steamed, braised or fried to name a few examples.
Muskmelon! We planted a second patch of muskmelon again this season. Last season it froze too quickly and we never got any harvest out of our second patch, so we started the seeds a little earlier this season. This is very likely the last time we will have melons this season, but we’re thankful we have had them this long! The melons are picked ripe, but if you like you can leave it on the counter for a day or two to continue ripening. Just make sure not to let it over ripen! Once you cut up the melon and refrigerate it, it will stop the ripening process. Store all cut melon in the fridge.
Part of our CSA Share program is receiving a weekly box full of the produce that's in harvest, and part of it is understanding the produce, what is desirable and what you should look for during the off season. Let’s talk about muskmelons so next time you’re at the store, you will look like a pro (or should I say farmer?)!
They should be a yellowish color, green is under-ripe, and brown spots either means they’re overripe or they were sun-burned. If they’re sunburned there isn’t anything wrong with them, it just means the foliage of the plant wasn’t growing over the top of the melon like it does most of the time. I look for a ripened spot, which will be slightly flat because that’s where the melon sat on the ground when it was ripening. The most important part of the test is feeling the blossom end for tenderness. One end of the melon is the end that was attached to the plant, the opposite end is the blossom end (that’s where the flower was originally, then it was pollinated and turned into a melon). Feel around the blossom end pressing gently with your thumb and it should have a little bit of give, it shouldn’t be rock hard. If it is, let it sit on the counter for a few days until you can feel it soften a bit.
The variety of the week is BROCCOLI! The broccoli this week looks amazing. Ben said it could be the prettiest broccoli he has ever grown, because of the cool temperatures the broccoli grew very slowly. When it grows slow, the heads are tight and the florets are tight to the stem. When it grows hot, the florets are long and wilt faster, they’re less tight. When it gets too hot outside they will bolt. (When a plant is in the reproductive stage of its life cycle it will stop putting energy into growing and start putting all of its energy into creating flowers to spread the pollen and further distribute the plant.) With Broccoli, bolting literally happens to the entire head; every little green speck on a broccoli floret will turn into a flower if it is in the field long enough.
Wrap broccoli loosely in a plastic bag and keep it in the vegetable bin of your refrigerator.
After cutting off the florets, don’t discard the stem. Sliced stems are juicy, crunchy, and perfectly edible. If the skin is thick, you can remove it with a knife or peeler before adding the stem to your dish.
Broccoli has great nutritional value including vitamin A, C, calcium, potassium & iron. It has a special enzyme called Sulforaphane which has links to decreasing chances for certain cancers as well.
Broccoli is best used within a few days, store in a plastic bag in the hydrator drawer to keep for up to 5 days. For long term storage, broccoli does freeze very well. Cut the florets from the stem and add them to a boiling pot of water for 3 minutes. Rinse in cold water to stop the cooking process and then simply bag and put in the freezer. This method of preservation is called “blanching” and can be applied to many other crops, like green beans, tomatoes, cauliflower, etc. Ben & I love using frozen broccoli in the winter, it’s as easy as making our favorite chicken alfredo and adding a bag of frozen broccoli at the very end of the cooking process.
Spending a little extra time preserving produce during the season makes the actual meal preparation a lot faster all winter long, saving time washing/dicing, etc. It makes it easier to eat healthy because the veggies are already prepped which makes them easier to reach for, and there is definitely a sense of self pride involved in preserving your own food!
Have a wonderful week, ~The Famer’s Wife