Week 2 and Keepin’ it Fresh

There is an evolution involved when it comes to being a CSA member.  There’s excitement, panic, experimentation, utter culinary failure, complete culinary delight, saving, canning, fermenting, sharing . . . .

It’s week 2 and already I’m like, “There’s so much food!”  John Krueger of Starbrite Farm really rocks my world and specifically my digestive system.  And I’m not going to lie–I panic about how to use it all, not wasting, getting home from work in time to cook a meal before 10pm.  I’m sure you can relate.

With all this in mind, I thought I’d share some of the ways I’ve found to make the most out of the CSA.  

Thanks to member, Raquel, for sharing this article:
http://www.thekitchn.com/thekitchn/how-to-get-the-most-out-of-your-csa-147351

1.  LONG TERM STORAGE
I copied a great article a few years ago from  www.farmdirectcoop.org/veggie_storage, called “How to Store Vegetables in a Typical Suburban Home” by Richard C. Harrison.  While informative, I don’t live in a “typical suburban home” so I found myself modifying.  I’ve blanched and frozen the following with success:  carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, greens, peas.  If it’s been 2 weeks and I don’t see a use in sight, I freeze it so it doesn’t go bad.  Some veggies freeze better if you blanch them first meaning put them in boiling water for a few minutes, then in an ice bath.

Any sort of green (including the tops of turnips, radishes, etc.) can be stored in the crisper in a damp towel.  Wet the towel, wring it out and wrap the greens in it.  You may need to rewet and wring the towel every few days, but it works like a charm (a tip from my stellar husband, Marshall).  We’ve had bunches of greens stay delectable for up to 3 weeks!

John let me know one year that the following can be stored in a plastic bag or other air tight container in the back of the refrigerator for months:  carrots, celeriac, beets, brussels sprouts, cabbage, turnips, rutabaga, kholrabi.  I’ve tested his theory over the last few years with much success.  If it’s been a while, there might be rotty spots; I cut them off and proceed as usual.
Note:  Cut any sort of greenage off the tops before storing and remove as much air as possible from the bag or container.
Also Note:  Don’t wash any veggies before putting them in storage (unless you are freezing).

The following can be set aside is a dark, covered place (we use file cabinets) and will keep for months:  potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, garlic, winter squash, pumpkins.  Periodically inspect the goods and use what seems to be going bad and/or spotting first.
Note:  Squash doesn’t like to touch each other, we wrap each one in a bit of butcher paper or put them in paper bags before storing.
Also Note:  If onions or garlic begin sprouting, use asap.

2.  CANNING
When I began researching canning it seemed complicated, special tools, lots of time, etc.  My dad has canned since I can remember and knowing he wouldn’t get caught in a hullabaloo, I called him.  He assured me it was not difficult and didn’t require any special equipment other than a large pot and some clean, sealable jars.

I’m now a big fan of canning and here’s how I do it.  This comes with the complete disclaimer that I know there are very good reasons for a multi-stepped, special equipmented process.  Some of these reasons involve bacteria and food-borne illnesses.  However, these steps have worked for me:
*Whatever you are canning must be boiling:  veggies, tomato sauce, jam, etc.
*Fill another large pot with water and bring to a boil.  This is your “water bath”.  You’ll use this to sterilize the jar (I use mason jars) you are putting your food into.
*Sterilize the jar and lids by submerging them in the boiling water (tongs are helpful here).
*Remove jar from the boiling water, fill the jar within a 1/2″ of the top, wipe down any spillage, put the seal lid on top and cover with the screw lid tightly.
*Set aside until you hear the little pop that means it’s sealed and then store as you like.  Eat asap anything that doesn’t seal (this is rare that a jar doesn’t seal).  No need to refrigerate; you can if you like, but this is sort of the point of canning, so you don’t have to store it in the fridge.

3.  FERMENTING
Last year opened the world of fermenting to my supreme delight!  There will be more on this later in the season, but I can tell you everything I’ve learned, I learned from Sandor Katz in his book Wild Fermentation.

Because I’m so stinkin’ excited about the possibility of kale in this week’s delivery, I’ll leave you with options on my favorite way to prepare this miracle vegetable:
http://www.rawmazing.com/raw-food-kale-chips-9-ways/

Enjoy!

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