Farm Newsletter ** Week 9
Good evening All,
I am sorry it took so long to get you the full blog post this week. As many of you read yesterday, we got hail on Friday afternoon so we needed some extra time to assess the damage. We've already gotten hail this season but it wasn't as sustained or large as this storm, so this one really worried us honestly.
We have quite a bit of damage on some varieties and other varieties are completely unphased. It's amazing that the crops are turning out as they are, after a couple hail storms and a D3 drought. It's truly amazing what Ben is able to do with his plants... We've been married over a decade and I still can't explain to you how he has it all organized and manages to get a yield with these difficult circumstances!
For now, we have our work cut out for us with plant clean up. We need to remove damaged fruits and keep plants as healthy as possible. We still have to wait and see if the dents on the tomatoes will heal; I think they will because they already did earlier with the first round of hail. It'll take a few days for the damage to really show up in the health of the plants, but for now we're very optimistic with what we've seen.
As farmers we weather many storms and we appreciate the support of our CSA Members and our community around us. We've gotten so many kind emails expressing understanding, willingness to come volunteer and encouragement & support for the rest of our season. Thank you for being the best part of this farm, nothing is possible without our Members!!
Let's get on to some fun announcements for this week because we really do have a lot to look forward to-
I have some exciting news for you! this week we are going to be adding tomatoes to your CSA! We are just starting to harvest all of our varieties, so the larger slicing tomatoes, romas, and grape tomatoes. We'll talk more about the 'maters below under the list of veggies you'll get this week.
We're well into this first planting and we're just about to hit the second planting; so we'll be in sweet corn for weeks still! The plan is to always have sweet corn. We don't ever want to run out and be waiting for a patch to mature because that's lost money. We put a lot of corn in our CSA and sell at the stand too, so it's really important to always have corn!
We planted 5 different times this spring/summer so that our corn would be in harvest for the whole season. So we've got a patch that we've been picking on for a while, a patch that's almost ready, a patch that's just starting to tassel and a patch that's going to cut it really close to the frost. It's worth it though, because we'd love to give you the last of the sweet corn right before the frost!
We chatted about sweet corn a few weeks ago but I wanted to repeat one of the most important things about corn: As soon as you harvest it, the sugars start converting into starches. Meaning that the moment you take it off the stalk, is the moment it will be sweetest! Please remember that as you pick up your CSA too- enjoy it as soon as you can!
THIS WEEK IN YOUR CSA YOU CAN EXPECT:
Jumbo & Family Shares: Sweet corn, Yukon Gold Potatoes, Cabbage (or White Cauliflower), Slicers/pickles, Gypsy peppers, Jalapeno peppers and some sort of tomato!
Single Shares: Sweet corn, Yukon Gold Potatoes, Purple Cauliflower, Zucchini, Jalapeno peppers and some sort of tomato!
Since the tomatoes are just starting to come in, we're going to add one kind of tomato to your box this week and we won't be able to tell you which one it is, sorry! Basically, we don't have enough of any one variety to add to the CSAs this week so we're adding everything we've got! I'll also be recording which varieties everyone gets so we can keep it straight and balance it out in future weeks. If you get romas this week, you'll likely get slicers next week, etc. I'll go over the different kinds we grow and what they're known.
Traditional large slicing tomatoes can be used to top a burger, as wedges to garnish a salad, or diced on top of tacos for example. They're larger and round with good flavor and a larger seed cavity.
Roma tomatoes are also great for the purposes listed above, but they’re known for their value in making sauces or canning. They are smaller and elongated, they’re oval shaped not round. They have a much lower water content (smaller seed cavity) than those traditional slicing tomatoes, so if you’re making salsa for example the process of cooking it down is twice as fast than the traditional slicing tomatoes. Making fresh salsa or pico de gallo, I usually use Romas if I have them on hand.
Grape tomatoes are always fun! They’re such a treat and never last long around our house. They are one of our favorite quick snacks, but they’re also fun to add to shishcabobs on the grill, blackened in a stir fry, sliced up thin and added to salads, or cut in half and used in the classic summertime pasta dishes with Italian dressing.
One farm rule is that you can’t pick tomatoes when they’re wet or they’ll get soft spots, sometimes even black spots on the skin of the tomato. Not to mention it spreads fungus in the tomato patch. If you harvest tomatoes right away in the morning and there is dew on the plant, when picking the tomatoes and going from plant to plant and row to row, your plants are very susceptible to spreading diseases as well- i.e. we basically have to wait for the heat of the day to pick tomatoes!
Do not refrigerate tomatoes; cold temperatures deplete their flavor & texture. If your tomatoes smell fragrant and yield slightly when squeezed, they are ready to use. If not, store them for a few days at room temperature out of the sun until they are ripe. My dad’s trick was always putting dry tomatoes in a brown paper bag on top of the fridge, which accelerates the ripening process. The exception to this rule is if you've used part of a tomato, please refrigerate the other part.
Note: avoid cooking in aluminum or iron pots because tomatoes react with those substances, giving the dish a metallic taste. This is a big tip. I wrecked a lot of canned goods back in the day like this because I didn't know better. No one taught me to can/hot water bath, I never did it with my mom or grandma. I canned with a friend early on; we made a lot of mistakes and eventually figured it out! This is something I wish I would have known right away.
Jalapenos! These are our favorite hot pepper. I think it's because of the flavor in the heat. Most hot peppers are just the heat. It's the ghost peppers, reapers, etc. that are as hot as hot gets! Those peppers lack taste, to me. I feel like jalapenos are balanced in that they're hot but they've got the best flavor of hot pepper. Don't get me wrong, a good hot sauce can go a long way! But adding hot peppers into our CSA that are approachable for our Members is very important!
Did you know the heat in hot peppers is mostly in the seed cavity and membranes of the pepper? So if you deseed a jalapeno pepper and remove all the white membranes around the seeds, it won't be nearly as spicy but you'll still get that awesome flavor.
**In your CSA, hot peppers will always come in a bag. So if you ever miss the newsletter and see some peppers in a plastic bag and others aren't, please know bagged peppers are always hot! We do this to make sure that we don't share any of the heat of these peppers with the other varieties in your CSA that week. I imagine not many people want surprise spicy veggies. Any of the peppers that are added loose into your CSA box are sweet peppers.
**This picture is from last year. The plants don't look as nice anymore. If we pick off damaged peppers, we don't add those into CSAs, you'll see the best of our patch this week!
Gypsy peppers are coming this week for the Jumbo & Family Shares. The skin is a little thinner than a bell pepper but it's slightly sweeter too. It's a good pepper for a veggie tray or for eating raw on top of salads because it has such a nice sweetness to it! Later on in the season when they start ripening, they'll be all sorts of shades of yellows, oranges and reds. Right now, we're relatively early in pepper season and they're all that super light green/yellow color.
Eat Good & Be Well,
~The Farmer's Wife