I have a lot of really important reminders this week, so my newsletter won't be as whimsical, but it'll be full of good stuff to make your CSA experience the best it can be, getting you the best value!
To start with a little housekeeping: 1. We have had some trouble with folks taking the wrong boxes. I know that 99.9% of our Members understand how it works and how important it is to take the correct box. Of course, the folks who probably need to see this don't read the newsletters, lol. However, I just want to remind you that if you're going to have someone else pick up on your behalf, please remember to remind them there are names on all of the CSA Boxes. It's funny, new folks show up and think they're vegetable box pirates so they always move really fast and sometimes just take a box and run, lol! Please remind them that this is the normal protocol and they need to be mindful of the names on the boxes.
**This is especially important because we have Labor Day coming up soon and I imagine there will be some substitutes filling in as folks are out of town. There is a fee associated with taking the wrong box.
2. The Blaine site is closing on Lincoln Court NE. This is the first time this has ever happened mid-season but with your help we've made this transition very smoothly! If you're a Member who picks up there, you've already been contacted, and everyone has already chosen a different CSA site. This is just a reminder that your new CSA site will start this Monday, August 22nd.
3. The box contents listed on the weekly newsletter are followed as closely as we can. The leeks were very small. When Ben surveys a part of the field he decides if we can add them or not, and in this case he looked at a part of the field that was a lot more successful than the other end apparently. We ended up subbing out the leeks (which really looked a lot like green onions!) for bulbed onions later in the week because we ran out (if they were bigger, we wouldn't have ran out!).
Canning quantities! We talked briefly about this last week. I jumped the gun! We had a few rain days in a row and we weren't able to pick tomatoes. Picking when the plants are wet spreads diseases so we don't pick tomatoes if it's raining, or in the morning (basically until the dew dries).
So we don't have many canners but we do have a couple! The plants are really healthy so the tomatoes are all pretty much number ones right now. We chatted briefly about this last week too, but basically the only thing that makes a tomato a canner is some kind of blemish. That could be shape or size, a field scar, etc, but they're not squishy.
We offer our CSA Members a discount for all of the produce you purchase above and beyond your CSA.
A half bushel of tomatoes is $27. We have either the traditional tomatoes or romas available; please specify if you have a preference. It's about 25# of tomatoes/ half bushel. People like romas for making sauces because they have a lower water content which makes them easier and quicker to cook down. The regulars are a bit sweeter in my opinion, and that's my preference for my salsa because it has a good balance of sweet and hot. Some people want half and half in a single half bushel, which we can do!
Sweet peppers- gypsy, banana, or bell peppers: half bushel is $18 and a bushel is $30.
Hot peppers- jalapenos, anaheims, hungarian hot wax: half bushel is $22, a peck is $12.
To reference sizes- the half bushel is the same size box as the single shares come in. It's the smallest box size they make. A peck is half of that amount, but there isn't a box that size so we'd simply fill the half bushel box half way.
When you're making an order, please email me with as much information as possible. It's helpful to know what kind of tomatoes you want, if there is a specific week you'd need them, if you want sweet or hot peppers, and if you want to mix the box with different varieties. We can get you whatever you want, even if that's like a half bushel of hot peppers with 20 jalapenos and the rest anaheims, for example. Having as much info as possible right away is very helpful for us :) And we want to make sure you get exactly what you want!!
Please email orders to Jodi@brownfamilyproduce.com and we'll get you on the list! I'll notify you before your extra produce is delivered too, and we'll do our best to get you tomatoes as soon as possible. I imagine this week we will be able to fill a couple orders but the following week starting August 29th, is when I expect to have a LOT of tomatoes picked and sorted!
This week in your CSAs you can expect: Jumbo & Family Shares- Muskmelon! Cabage, Broccoli, assorted Bell Peppers, Muskmelon, Grape Tomatoes and Tomatoes!
Single Shares- Muskmelon! Cauliflower, Acorn Squash, assorted Bell Peppers, Muskmelon and Tomatoes!
This is the beginning of something big!!
Squash is something that isn't always super pretty. Of course, we won't send something with you that isn't good- but you'll notice there will be some scarring or bumps on the outside. That's not reflective of what's on the inside, I promise! I just wanted to touch on this because as you probably know, I'm very particular with how the produce looks that goes into your CSAs. This is always a hard one for me to accept because they're not always beautiful and smooth, but that's just how squash grows.
This is a variety that will last for months if you keep it in the right place. As this is the first for the season, I'm sure you won't be wanting to store these right now but when the time comes, store squash in a cool dry place that has a lot of air flow. I like to use the example from a few years ago- where a guy called me concerned that his squash rotted so soon and there was something wrong with them. He wrapped them all individually in newspaper (he read that somewhere that's what he was supposed to do), and really it just accelerated the deterioration so much that they lasted a month, not the whole winter as intended. Please make sure you're not tucking them in a drawer, for example. They need air flow for storage.
Stuffed squash is my favorite thing to do with acorns but this is the staple variety that everyone always asks for. These and buttercups, which I'm sure will be coming in the next few weeks too! Acorn are almost always the first to ripen, but we have many more varieties to enjoy!!
This is Grace! She's one of our go-to gals who always puts in 100%. She's just coming out of the field with grape tomatoes and I had to stop her for a picture. She'll be headed off to school soon and we will miss her very much!!
Grape tomatoes are coming this week for the Jumbo & Family Shares! Keep these on the counter for best flavor. You can prep your lunch salads with them in halves, toss them in with a pasta salad, or just eat them plain of course! These should last for a long time at room temperature! Singles will be getting these next week, so week 10.
Finally!! This is one of those staple mid-summer varieties that we really look forward to sharing with you. Muskmelon picked from a field when it's ripe, is a special flavor you won't be able to find anywhere else. The reason for this is because in larger scale farming where they're harvesting thousands to bring to the grocery stores accross the country, the muskmelons have to be picked underripe so that they don't over-ripen by the time they get to their destination. Kind of like a tomato or watermelon, regardless of how ripe they are when they're picked, they'll just keep ripening.
For us on our farm here, we choose to harvest them ONLY when they're at their peak of ripeness! That's why we walk the patch everyday, because we are so particular of when to harvest them. That's really important though- because it's ultimately what's going to be getting the best melon into your hands at the end of the day :)
Please know that since these are picked ripe, they won't last for a week on the counter. What we trade in shelf life, we're gaining in flavor! If you can't eat your melon right away we do suggest cutting it up and putting it in the fridge because that's the only way to slow down the ripening process.
Green cabbage is always ready first, it grows faster than it's red counterpart.
Storing cabbage should be done in a plastic bag or container in the fridge. These will last for weeks in the fridge. If you take it out and the outer layer is soft, simply peel it back a few leaves and it'll be a whole new head of cabbage! It stays firm forever basically, in part because it's SO dense.
To use: Green cabbage is good fixed any way: raw, in salads, cooked, steamed, braised or fried. Red cabbage has a sharper flavor and coarser texture so it needs to be cooked longer. Make raw cabbage into coleslaw or sauerkraut.... Eat raw grated cabbage in your salad... Cooking celery with cabbage helps cut the strong cooking odor of cabbage. Briefly steam slivered and rinsed cabbage for 5 minutes. Top with butter and a pinch of salt and pepper or grated cheese. For the best cabbage, stir-fry or braise it until slightly browned. Or try and use it as a wrap for grain, rice, or meat fillings in large, boiled cabbage leaves.
Broccoli is coming for the Jumbo & Family Shares this week! Cauliflower is coming in the Single Shares this week! With both of these varieties we suggest soaking them in a sink with mostly water and a splash of vinegar (or a hefty pinch of salt) to make sure there are no hitch hikers.
Tomatoes! Please don't refrigerate them. Unless you cut them and only use half, in which case definitely pop it into the fridge. I know we will go through some recipes later on and I'll give you more ideas for using them but for now- I suggest enjoying the first of the season in simply ways to savor the sweetness <3 Sandwiches, sliced of tomatoes on grilled cheeses, adding them to the end of our fajitas so they're softened but firm, pico de gallo/ fresh salsa, or maybe even just on top of a salad or taco! We're savoring the first tomatoes around the farm here!! :D
I want to mention the Add-on Shares too. We have accepted a lot of Fall and Apple Share orders this spring already when you signed up for your CSA, but we are still accepting more of those if you're interested!
The Fall Share is a two week CSA that runs concurrently towards the end of the CSA Season. It doesn't extend the season, it's meant to provide you with the varieties of produce that hold the best so you have extra farm fresh goodies around into the fall/winter. The Fall Share will last for months into the winter if stored correctly. There is a whole handbook JUST for the Fall Shares talking about preservation or storage, the different types of squash and what they're known for, and even how to make baby food.
The picture above lists all the varieties included in the fall share. If you'd like to order please visit CSA Farm - Brown Family Farm | Oak Park, MN (brownfamilyproduce.com)
Scroll down past the new member sign up and you'll see the Fall Share & Apple Shares there. We did not increase the price for either, and they're $95 & $50 respectively. The deadline for purchasing these add-ons isn't until mid-September, which I'll announce as it's closer as well. I don't imagine we'll run out but technically it is FCFS.
Here is belly. I'm not sure why I call her that, because her name is Luna. But you know how your pets have their names and then also their names? I imagine it's like the kids- they know when we use their full name, they're in trouble, lol! I think Belly just stuck because she's so silly and I'm often scratching this little love bug. Not in the field though- she knows better (even look at her stance here, she's serious!!). We adopted her last winter and she's been our trusty side kick ever since!
This is the time of year we talk about when we're busier than normal busy, haha. Tomato season is another layer to busy that we haven't seen since last year. We're also starting to harvest the larger varieties, the melons, squash, cabbage, etc. I was chatting on the phone last night with my sister and she called at almost 9, but we were out picking melons with headlamps on, lol. Then this morning I took this picture (Sunday) of Belly helping me pick an order of Jalapenos for the stand at about 7am lol.
We are busy yes, but we LOVE what we do and wouldn't have it any other way!! Make hay when the sun shines, right?! In every facet of our lives.. Staying busy is good! Keeps us out of trouble ;)
We are happy to grow for you & your families and look forward to sharing more goodies this week :D Hope you enjoy!! And remember, your muskmelon is already ripe when it's picked so please cut into it right away! Stay well Friends,
~The Farmer's Wife