Week 16

Do you have enough peppers yet?  Who likes hot sauce?  Some like a lot and some like a little but almost everyone likes hot sauce from time to time.  So, make some!  Take stems off peppers and throw them into a blender or food processor.  Add garlic, acid (lime, lemon, vinegar) and a generous amount of salt.  Blend and put into a jar for future use.

In this week’s box, you will find:

Green Beans

Swiss Chard

Hot Peppers

Sweet Peppers

Kale

Onions

Herb Bouquets

Another thing that I have been doing with vegetable scraps or extras that I don’t know what to do with, making vegetable stock.  Put mixed veggies in stock pot.  (Onions are a must, bulbs or greens, carrots, leeks, garlic, lettuce, spinach, green beans, celery, herbs, lots of herbs make a fragrant and profound flavor.  Any or all of these.  Beets are ok if you want red broth.  I steer clear of anything in the cabbage family, i.e. broccoli, kale, radishes, turnips etc. because I find that they impart a farty taste.  I also stay away from peppers, tomatoes and eggplant for their bitterness.  Then add things that will give it richness, lentils, nuts or seeds or both, mushrooms.  Add salt and pepper (a good amount of both) and boil until you run out of time.

Then make vegetable soup.  Or rice.  Anything that calls for water.  Or store it in your fridge for a week or more.  Taste the difference!

 

Cabbage

Cabbage is in the same family as broccoli, kale, collards, and many other health power houses.  It was domesticated in Europe before 1000 BCE, but can now be found in food from all over the world. Cabbage is a great source of Vitamin C, Vitamin K, and dietary fiber.

cabbage

I love raw cabbage salads during the hot days of summer, there’s something about its crisp, crunchiness that just makes me feel cooler right away.  Of course it is also good cooked and pickled into sauerkraut.  Cabbage heads will store for a long time in your refrigerator, so don’t worry about using this part of your box right away.

Here are a few of our favorite cabbage recipes:

Stir Fried Green Cabbage with Fennel Seeds

napa cabbage salad

Napa Cabbage Salad with Peanuts and Cilantro

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Pasta salad with salmon, cabbage, and carrots

Herbs in your Thanksgiving box

There is a nice assortment of herbs in this year’s Thanksgiving box! Some of them may be recognizable, while others might leave you wondering. Just in case you need help identifying which herbs you got, here are some pics!

 

Herb bouquets — (Sage, parsley, thyme) OR (sage, curry, thyme)

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And…

Bagged herbs (cilantro, parsley, chervil)  OR  Sage

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And…

Horseradish for all! Storage tip: Horseradish must be stored in airtight plastic in the fridge or it will dry up overnight and be to hard to prepare. When you get your box home, put it in a sandwich bag in the fridge and use it within a week or two for best flavor.

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2014 Storage Share

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Vegetables with longer shelf lives to keep you eating seasonally into the cold weather!

 

Storage shares have:

1. Cherry tomato salsa (Tuesday) or pickled beets (Saturday)  and cucumber pickles (both days)  all canned this summer. Good up to 1 year if left sealed; refrigerate after opening.

canned storage

 

2. Daikon radishes. Can store for several weeks.  To store: Remove the greens and store in a Ziplock bag with a damp paper towel in the bag. Put bag in crisper drawer of fridge.

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3. Potatoes (with soil on for storage purposes.) Store in dry, cool, dark place in paper bag for longer term storage. If kept cool, dark, and dry can store several months. Remember, we don’t treat our potatoes with any anti-sprout chemicals like the ones in grocery stores so it is crucial to store them in a dark place. They’re alive and want to grow!

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4. White sweet potatoes (yum!)—  If you can resist these for more than 2 weeks, store in paper bag in cool, dry, dark place like regular potatoes. Will keep for months in good storage conditions.

white sweet potatoes

5. Drying red cayenne peppers  These are not completely dry yet. Keep them in the kitchen in a dry place and they will keep for months. Once they are fully dry, you can put them in a dry glass jar or paper bag and use as needed. Best if used within a year.

peppers

6. Dried fennel seeds — Store in a  paper bag in a  dry place. Once they are fully dry, (2 weeks or so) they can be stored in a dry glass jar. For best flavor, enjoy them within 1 year. Seeds could also be planted in garden come spring: they are viable, organically grown, and frost hardy for early spring planting!

Fennel

7. Red Beets –To store for longer periods, remove greens and store in damp Ziplock in fridge like the Daikon radishes. Beet greens can be blanched and frozen in freezer bag for long term storage, too! Can store for up to 5 weeks in the right conditions.

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8. Carrots– For long term storage remove greens and store in damp Ziplock or Tupperware in fridge. These will stay good for several weeks.

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9. Butternut squash  Store in cool, dry place. Can be stored for several months.

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10. Garlic–Store in cool dry place, can store for several months

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11. Sage — hang in dry place in kitchen and these herbs will dry out. Once they are dry and crisp, store  in a paper bag or dry glass jar and use as needed. Best if used within 1 year.

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12. Bulb Fennel —Remove any protruding  greens (the greens are edible, too) and store bulbs in Ziplock bag in fridge if not used within a week. Will keep up to a month or more in good conditions.

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Vegetable prep and storage tips

potato prep

It happens all the time–I walk into the kitchen with every intention of making potato leek soup (or something delicious), but then I see the potatoes are dirty and unpeeled and  the leeks are still bunched up in the fridge with their roots on. I look at the clock and realize that I don’t have enough time to go on a veggie prepping spree and ultimately leave the kitchen with a snack and put the cooking off till later.

My recurrent planning mistake is that I somehow don’t factor in all the prep time that comes with cooking with fresh vegetables. Half the work in potato leek soup, for instance,  is scrubbing the potatoes, peeling them, chopping them, prepping the leeks and dicing them, etc. It’s not like on the cooking shows where the host effortlessly  reaches for a bowl of diced tomatoes and onions and, voila! the salsa is ready.

As a CSA member, you’ve been dealing with the same seasonal abundances that we have as farmers. Here are some tips that we’ve found helpful in making sure the produce we work so hard to grow (or that we’ve paid for) doesn’t go to waste!

1. Make sure you’re using a sharp knife 

I can’t even express how much a sharp, decent quality knife improves the prep experience. It’s faster, less frustrating, and believe it or not, you’re actually more likely to hurt yourself with a dull knife than a sharp one. A dull knife often slips and leaves you using more elbow grease to saw into food. A sharp knife blade slices and dices with more precision and doesn’t slip. A good way to test your knife’s sharpness is how it cuts a ripe tomato. Does it mash the tomato before it breaks the skin? A properly sharpened knife will slice into a ripe tomato with very little effort on your part without bruising the insides of the fruit.

  • Sharpen your knife as soon as you notice it’s not cutting clean and crisply like it should (I sharpen mine about twice a month).
  • It’s easy to sharpen your kitchen knives. Files are inexpensive and can be found at hardware stores, kitchen departments, outdoors stores, etc. There are all types of files. If you’re unsure about the best way to sharpen your knife, there are some pretty good how-ho resources out there on YouTube, and Google  is good at fishing up these DIY info.

 

2. Use the right tools (utensils, appliances)

There are a few things in my kitchen that I can’t imagine going through a growing season without. Aside from sharp prep knives, I use:

  • A sharp veggie peeler
  • A vegetable brush — Yes, they make those but sometimes I use a clean scrubbing brush from the hardware store. Use these with a bit of water to clean up root crops.
  • A large cutting board (preferably wooden as to not dull the knife blade) — Some smaller boards  don’t hold all the diced produce and it awkwardly spills off the edge.
  • A four-sided hand grater — Because sometimes you’ll want to grate something other than cheese. I grate kohlrabi and cabbage  for  quick slaws. =)
  • A food processor with multiple blades–a regular blade for purees, hummus, and pestos, but also a slicing blade and a grating blade. I only use a food processor for slicing or grating when I am cooking a huge meal or when I am preserving large quantities. If I just needed to grate one carrot for a sauce, I would use a hand grater. You have to factor in the time it takes to clean the machine and decide if it’s worth it. I use the food processor all the time and make all sorts of pestos. I even made swiss chard pesto and it was delicious. This machine allows for all types of adventures in food.
  • A blender — Food processors are great until you try to blend or puree liquids. Talk about a mess! Blenders are best for soups and smoothies. When I first started cooking I thought it was superfluous to have both, but after enough stubborn hummus episodes with me poking down the thick paste to get it back to the blade, or spilled/spattered  liquid soups in the food processor, I learned this lesson: solids are for food processors. Liquids are for blenders. I learn the hard way, but you don’t have to.
  • Anything else? Of course, other musts are good pots and pans and other basic utensils, but the above are the shining stars in my kitchen. What about you? Share your ideas and tips.

 

3. Prep ahead of time

I keep using potatoes as an example because they are my least favorite to prep. Here are a few tips for planning ahead.

  • We don’t wash potatoes too much in advance because leaving some soil on the skin aids in the storage of  root crops. It keeping them from getting that spongey, tired feel. But if you know you are going to be using the potatoes within 3 or so days, scrub them off with a vegetable scrubber and water ahead of time and store them in a humid place until you are ready to peel them or prep them how you wish.

 

  • You can prep vegetables that don’t get brown with exposure to air a day or two in advance. For instance, a diced onion or diced squash can sit just fine in a tupperware in the fridge for  a few days until you’re ready to get cooking. I diced up three leeks and two peppers and garlic after I did the dishes tonight and put them in a tupperware because I know tomorrow I’ll only have a half hour of cooking time and I’d rather just get to cooking than be daunted by prep work and end up eating toast and jam instead.

 

  • With cherry  tomatoes, I take off the stems when I have time and so when I am rushing up a salsa, the stems aren’t the bottle neck. You could even do this with kale or other greens: chop it up and then store it is a humid part of your fridge so when you get hungry you’ll be able to put dressing on it or wilt it quickly and less tempted to skip it altogether.

Hope these tips were helpful. What do you do to manage prep time? Please share. It’s harvest season and we’re all in the same boat, that is, we’re all trying to find creative, time efficient ways to eat the farm’s abundance!

 

 

 

 

2013 Storage Share

Here’s what is in your storage share, along with tips to store it:

The farmers of City Commons salute your wisdom in buying a storage share. This box of goodies will keep you eating delicious, organic food into the fall and maybe even winter months. Below find a few tips on how to best store these items for maximum taste and nutrition. One rule that applies to all of these is to check on them often. One rotten potato really can start to ruin the whole sack, so be sure to remove food that is going bad from the rest, or if just a small part of a squash or onion is going bad, cut that part off and use the rest of it soon.

Enjoy these garden goodies during the cool, dark months while you’re dreaming of the beginning of our 2014 City Commons CSA season.

Garlic and onions- Both of these should be stored in a cool, dry place. A dry basement or garage (as long as it stays above freezing) is great. A refrigerator is not a good choice, it is too moist and there’s not enough air circulation. They should be stored in a way that allows for maximum air flow (an onion bag or some sort of mesh or wire basket is great). Stored this way they could keep all the way into spring 2014.

Potatoes- Potatoes like similar storage conditions to garlic and onions (cool and dry). You should also be sure that the spot where they are stored is dark. They also won’t keep quite as well as the garlic and onions, for best results try to use them all before March. If they start to sprout, don’t worry, they are still good to eat. Break off the sprouts and use them quickly.

Winter squash- Squash would like to be stored in a dry place like the items above, but a little bit warmer. Squash like to be just below room temperature, at about 55F. A cool corner of the basement perhaps? Or an uninsulated closet? They will store OK at room temperature as well. Stored this way they should keep until the end of December at least.

Dried herbs and tea- These items need a very dry place to stay, putting them in a glass jar or sealed plastic bag is a great idea. Stored this way it shouldn’t matter too much what temperature they are at (as with other herbs and spices storing them too hot will eventually degrade the flavor) and they can store almost indefinitely.

Carrots, celeriac, and beets- Carrots and beets won’t store quite as long as onions. They also want to be stored someplace cool, but will want some humidity. A crisper drawer is fine, or a very cool spot in the basement. A plastic bag with holes punched in it works well, allowing the vegetables to breath a little, but holding in most of the moisture. You’ll want to store them without the greens (use them to make soups or something else earlier) but don’t actually cut into the root; cut the greens off about an inch above the root. The traditional way to keep them in a root cellar is in moist sawdust. These should keep at least until the winter solstice if stored properly.

Leeks- Leeks are best stored in a cool, moist place. The crisper drawer of your refrigerator is great for this. Like carrots and beets, a plastic bag with holes punched in it can also be helpful. These won’t keep all that long, probably only a couple weeks, so put them towards the top of your cooking pile.

Storing the Harvest July 2013

Feeling overwhelmed by the quantity of produce you’re getting in your box?  Want to avoid cooking until it cools down a bit?  Here are some ways to store the things you’re getting in your box this week:

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Green Beans- Green beans freeze really well.  Just steam or blanch for about 2 minutes and then put them in a ziploc bag in your freezer.

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Garlic- Garlic will store well for months in a cool, dry place.  Simply cut off the top about an inch or two above the cloves.  Then store in an onion bag or other container that allows for air flow.

thymeHerbs- Thyme and other herbs will store best if placed with their stems in water and then put in a fridge or kept at room temperature.  They will also dry well, simply put them in a warm dry place and then store in an air tight container until you can use them.

Chard bunches

Greens- Kale, Chard and other greens are best eaten fresh.  In a pinch you can freeze them though.  Simply strip off the stem and prepare as you would for cooking in any other recipe.  Steam or blanch for only a minute and then cool and store in an air tight container and freeze.

For more tips on storing your harvest click on “Storing the Harvest” in the right tool bar under “Information”.

Shallots?

Shallots are in the onion family and have a taste a little between an onion and garlic.  The flesh is a little less strong tasting than an onion.  They will add delicious delicate flavor to any dish.  Try caramelizing them and then sauteing some thinly sliced beets to serve with them.  Like onions or garlic  they can store well in a dry, cool place for a long time.

Storing the Harvest 2

Too many veggies to eat right away?  Here are some tips to keep your produce looking nice until you get around to eating it.  You can also check out more tips with our first Storing the Harvest.

Fresh tomatoes will store best withe the stem side pointed down (especially if the stem is no longer attached).  We usually try to provide you with some fully ripe tomatoes ready to eat right away as well as a couple that are still firm and can wait a bit longer.  They are best if stored at room temperature.

Cucumbers are best stored in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator.  They’ll last a bit longer if kept in plastic, but will taste best when eaten a few days after you get them.

Eggplant is tricky as the best temperature to store it is 50F, warmer than a refrigerator but cooler than your house.  We suggest you just use it quickly so it won’t matter as much what temperature you store it at.  If that’s not possible a cool garage or basement can be great.

Sweet peppers will keep longest in your refrigerator.  If you can’t use them soon you can roast and freeze them to good effect.  The small Jimmy Nardello Peppers (the skinny ones above) also work well pickled.

Hot peppers store well at room temperature.  The chemical that makes them hot, capsicum, is also a natural anti-microbial so they will keep for a long time.  Cayenne peppers (the little red ones in the picture above) dry really well just by hanging them by the stem on a string.

Storing the harvest

Feeling overwhelmed by the produce piling up?  Don’t worry, there are lots of ways to properly store your goodies so they will keep until a less bountiful day.

  • Carrots store well in a cool place for several weeks.  Cut off all but an inch of the greens, place in a plastic bag with some holes cut in it (so they can breath) and put in a dry cool spot (the fridge is ok, an unheated cellar during the winter is even better). Beets can be stored in a similar way.

  • Basil will keep for several days if stood in a glass of water, like you would keep cut flowers.  Cold can damage and blacken the leaves so we actually don’t recommend putting it in the refrigerator, or if you do put it in a warm corner.  A part of the kitchen that is not to hot or the dining room table might be better.  You can also make pesto out of your basil and freeze it to use during the winter.  Basil will also dry well, but in our humid climate you may want to use a food dehydrator to do so.
  • Tarragon dries well just by hanging it upside down in a dry spot with good air circulation.

  • Cabbages can keep well for several weeks in a cool place.  If the outside leaves start to look a little dingy just peel them off and the interior should be fine.

  • Chard and Kale both freeze well if lightly blanched, chopped and stored in a plastic or glass container.
  • Salad greens will taste best the first day or two, but if you want to store them longer dry them thoroughly (you might even consider putting a dry paper towel in the bag to sap up moisture) and store them in a plastic bag in the crisper drawer of your fridge.
  • Tomatoes can be frozen whole or dried in a dehydrator.
  • We can’t really imagine your peaches lasting too long (many CSA members have admitted to eating them on the drive home and one member couldn’t even wait until leaving Vinewood Knoll), but if you are inclined to save them for later they freeze very well if sliced and placed in a plastic or glass container.

  • Your cut flowers should last all week long if tended to properly.  As soon as you get home re-cut the stems and place them in cool clean water.  They will keep longest if kept in a cool spot, out of direct sunlight.  Change the water every few days and remove wilted flowers for best results.