FARM NEWSLETTER // WEEK 12
Greetings All! We all made it through Labor Day week! All of us!!
Through your (hopefully) long weekend with some end of the summer fun, through the start of the school year & new after school activities and for some of you teachers, a really big week with new students and staff! The changing seasons in the farm and life... it's beautiful and exhausting :P You know what I mean!!
William was a bit nervous because he moved up to the intermediate school. New school, new staff, new lunch room, it made him a bit nervous but when he saw his friends from 3rd grade walking in, he immediately forgot that he was so nervous! To the point where I could barely get him to turn around and acknowledge that I had just walked him into the building (by his request). Best case scenario! The girls really love school but Karli was sad to have to spend so much time away from home. Girl, I feel yah there! We miss them too!! All in all, a good week of starting school though, and the kids already have homework ;)
I am going to be sending out an email this coming week to confirm with those of you who have bought the Apple and Fall Shares. You'll see that I didn't actually turn off the ordering last night like I had planned. I'm going to keep it open through tomorrow evening for any last-minute folks out there. If it is available on the Membership page, it is available for you to sign up still.
Since the season is getting pushed back a week father into October because of our not-so-great spring, we just assumed we would try to keep the Add-On share dates the same as the planned dates (that we have posted throughout your materials). We will actually have to push the Apple Shares back a week, because the honey crisps are behaving just like everything else this summer… they’re late!! We’re bummed out because obviously we’re all excited about offering these and also having these ultra-fresh apples around the house. This is all we eat for about a month straight, haha!!
So our plan is this: Apple Shares- week 14 (which starts Monday September 26th).
Fall Shares- 2 deliveries, week 15 (starting Mon October 3rd) and week 16 (starting Mon October 10th).
This coming week is week 12! We have 16 weeks of your CSA so we actually have a month left to fit all of these goodies in!!! Thank God, because we've got a lot lined up for you!!
If you’d like, it might be helpful to add a phone calendar reminder about your last CSA pick up so you know when it’s coming. I’ll be honest, it always seems like it runs father into the fall than we’d expect because it’s so cold by then, but the varieties we are harvesting are frost tolerant and are still in primo condition even at that time of year! The most common problem those last couple weeks are that people don't realize we're still harvesting for them so they don't pick up. The CSA ends the week of October 10-14th.
Enough business- I'd like to take a moment to tell you my carrot story so you can learn (or laugh) about it with me.
About 6 years ago, I spent almost a whole day washing, peeling, and chopping our carrots so that I could dehydrate them and enjoy them all winter. I literally prepared over 30 pounds of carrots! I put them all in the dehydrator and thought of all the things I'd use them for. In total, coming out of the dehydrator it only took about a pint to store all 30# of carrots! So I put them in a new jar and happily closed the cupboards thinking I had just succeeded! They did turn out well- the problem is that I didn't actually use them.
My story here is to say that regardless of our good intentions, we need to focus on preparing and preserving the things we KNOW we are going to use! My dried carrots sat in the cupboard for over 2 years before I had the courage to toss them. For 2 years I opened the cupboards seeing my nice little pint jar and thought I'll use them next week. Well, I had also frozen carrots, along with beans and corn so we had our own mixed veggie bags already! What was the purpose of the dried carrots? Good intentions!
It's taught me a lesson in what my time is worth. I make a LOT of salsa to sell at the stand, a lot of sauces and things for our own cupboards, Karli and I just finished a batch of strawberry jam just now, actually! My time is worth a lot (so is YOURS!!) so taking the time to make homemade goodies is awesome but only if you're actually going to eat them, haha!
Here are bags of my prepped onions and peppers for salsa. The onions (6 cups per bag) and bell peppers (7 cups per bag) are always consistent in every heat of my salsa, it's the jalapenos (in their own separate bag here) that will dictate if it's mild, medium or hot. So having these bags prepped makes my canning go so much easier and quicker!! Prepping what we have on hand and storing in the fridge for a couple days (or freezing if longer then a couple days) makes my canning much more approachable. I made over 100 JARS of salsa this weekend alone!!
We haven't really gotten a lot of time to talk about preserving produce for the winter time. There are a couple of methodologies- dehydrating, freezing or canning. My personal favorite is freezing when it comes to anything other than tomatoes. For cauliflower, broccoli, green beans, carrots, onions, the list goes on, we will chop, blanch (if necessary) and then stick it into a freezer bag. Zucchini, winter squash, brussel sprouts, we try to save a bit of everything on the farm here. Waste not, want not!
Canning tomatoes is super easy because they're already high in acidity (which helps prevent things like botulism if done correctly). It also lasts on the shelf for up to 2 years depending on what you're making, and that's nice because freezer space is limited especially after getting our pork and quarter beef processed.
I've never used a pressure canner, and a LOT of people love them. They allow you to can things that are not high in acidity, beans for example, carrots, potatoes even, you can basically can anything you could think of. I've never used one but I know I will eventually! Right now we just freeze all of our beans and carrots, etc. Mostly because I'm a chicken and those pressure canners scare me because it can go really, really wrong.
This week in your CSAs you can expect:
Jumbos/ Families: Buttercup Squash, Eggplant, Assorted Bell Peppers, Summer Squash, Tomatoes and Watermelons!
Singles: Buttercup Squash, Cauliflower (trying for purple), Assorted Bell Peppers, Tomatoes, Grape Tomatoes & Watermelons!
Slicers! We finally have our new patch of slicers coming in! Finally!! Unfortunately, our pickles didn't germinate like they should, so we won't have a late pickle patch like we usually do ;( We actually seeded it twice too- so we're thinking there was something wrong with those seeds because both times were so spotty, and we didn't have any big weather events. Except this past Friday, literally 2 days ago, we got HAIL. It was small and quick but really?! At this time of year?!
Back on track... Since we're just now starting to harvest slicers we don't have a ton but I wanted to mention them because over the next couple of weeks we're going to sneak them in where ever we can! Again, this is one of those things that I document and make sure everyone gets the same!! This past week for example, we ran out of zucchini so we had to use summer squash for everyone on Wednesday. This week it'll be the opposite, because we want to make sure everyone's getting their fair share of everything we grow!!
Buttercup Squash!! It's really just the tip of the iceberg for squash but we wanted to start us off on the right foot! Buttercups are Ben's favorite and we grow more of these than any other variety because these are ones that everyone likes!
Buttercup Squash can be baked or roasted. Scoop cooked flesh from the skin and puree into soup, mix with cheese and herbs for fresh pasta or ravioli stuffing. Carefully peel squash and dice flesh, then add to broth-based soups with lentils, beans or leeks. This squash has an extraordinarily long shelf life. There is also an orange buttercup squash called Sunshine. That’s farmer Ben’s favorite, it has a nice textured flesh and great flavor! These are considerably more moist than other varieties you’ll see this fall.
Eggplant!! This is a variety that also hasn't been seen all season. They were transplanted late and with the cool nights they're being harvested even later than anticipated.
Eggplant is a close relative of tomatoes, peppers and potatoes. They are smooth-skinned, oval to elongated, and range in color from purple to black (and others, but we grow the classic variety). Eggplant requires the right kind of preparation; otherwise, it can be unpleasantly bitter, rubbery, or watery.
Wrap unwashed eggplant in a towel (not plastic) to absorb any moisture and keep it in the veggie drawer of your refrigerator. Or store unrefrigerated at a cool room temperature. Use within a week and it should still be fresh and mild. Eggplant is usually peeled. The flesh will brown when exposed to air. To prevent browning, coat in lemon juice or keep submerged in water.
From the Farm to Table Storage Guide: Rinse eggplant in cool water and cut off the stem. The shape of the eggplant determines how to prepare it: cut straight narrow eggplant into strips for grilling or broiling, and cut a rounded bulbous eggplant into cubes for stews and stir- fries. To remove bitter flavors and excess moisture, lightly salt slices of eggplant and allow them to sit in a colander for 10-15 minutes. Gently squeeze out any liquid. Eggplant will now soak up less oil and need less salt in preparation.
To use: Stir-fry or sauté 1-inch cubed eggplant in a very hot sauté pan with peanut oil until the eggplant has released much of its water and is very soft. Or brush 1/2-inch to 1-inch slices of eggplant with olive oil or melted butter and broil or grill until brown. You can also pierce a whole eggplant in a few places with a knife, lightly coat with olive oil, and bake at 375 degrees until the eggplant is very soft and collapsed, 30-60 minutes.
To freeze: Peel and cut into slices 1/3-inch thick. To preserve color, soak 5 minutes in a solution of 4 T salt per gallon water — otherwise don't worry about it. Blanch for 2 minutes in steam. Cool immediately in cold water. Package in layers with each slice separated with two pieces of wrap.
WATERMELONS! These are picked when they're ripe but you don't need to use them as fast as a muskmelon. Watermelons can sit (even when fully ripened) for a week or more before losing any value in texture or flavor. I love watermelon weeks!! I feel like we should wrap all of them with bows and hand deliver them, they're that good!!! Remember these will also be on the side- so you'll see a pile of melons and for the Singles and Families, please grab one. For the Jumbo Shares- please take two! *These will not be in your CSA box, please remember to take them!
Bell Peppers! If this week is busy for you or you just don't have a plan for your peppers, now would be a great time to start freezing them for winter! They're the easiest. Just rinse them and cut them stem off, trying to leave all the fresh possible. Cut them into whatever sized pieces you'd like, and then toss them in a freezer bag. My mom freezes hers on a cookie sheet so they don't get all stuck together, and then puts them in the bag after they're frozen. For us, I usually measure out servings and write on the bags 2 cups, 4 cups etc. because I have certain recipes that use a standard amount. For as many or as little as you can put up, you'll be happy you did!! *If you use them, which I assume you will, they're peppers!!
Tomatoes. I don't want to scare anyone but we're really coming down to the end of our tomatoes for the season. This week could be our last week. There are still a handful out there to pick but I'm thinking in the next week or so we'll be done picking them. So if this week isn't the last week, expect next week to be the last week. Yikes!! That being said, if you want canning tomatoes, peppers, onions, etc. please reach out so we can get them to you this week or next.
Look at these scrabble pieces! Thanks Lisa!! <3 These are so cute and they fit perfectly in the fridge collection ;)
Every day I start sentences with, "when I get more time...". It's like we just keep waiting to be less busy but no matter what time of the year it is, or which kid is at what activity, we're always just as busy. This time of year is obviously no exception!
We say that every day, oh when I get more time, I'll work on that. Fix the flat on the 4 wheeler, close in the top of the chicken run so they quit jumping out at their leisure, pick up the yard so we can mow, organize our clothes into piles of what fits or what needs to get donated, etc. The list goes on!
What I'm getting at: it's all about mentality behind what we do in our personal & business lives.
Every day that we wake up is a good day, my friends! Another opportunity to do more, grow, learn, watch your family grow..
Another chance at a fresh start, which we are thankful to have every morning! <3
Hope you guys enjoy your veggies this week!!
Stay well Friends,
~The Farmers' Wife