Shifting into the summer harvest

Last week we had a small amount of summer squash. It managed to sneak into the harvest with very little fanfare.  It also happens to be a harbinger of things to come.  You’ll notice cucumbers on the list this week, and both of these crops will become abundant to the point that you won’t want to take all that we are offering.  They also foreshadow some other summer favorites- green beans, tomatoes, and corn.

This is the time when planning for abundance makes the difference between preserving extras for the winter and shopping at the grocery store again for all your produce in the off-season.  I know how busy life can get, and I know it is hard to put aside time to prioritize preserving food, but try and picture your meals in the dead of winter, and ask yourself, “will I be happy with commercial produce?”

Whether it’s dehydrating or making jam from blueberries, pickling cucumbers, canning salsa, drying tomatoes, or freezing sweet corn and green beans, I can’t encourage you enough to shift your mindset into one that prioritizes saving the farm’s abundance for your winter enjoyment.  Start simple, pick one project you would like to learn, and start there.  It is the next logical step to joining a CSA like ours, which offers you extras at no extra cost, so long as we have them to give.

As CSA members, Jeff considers all the food from the farm as yours, and after all, you paid for it.  We are both ecstatic when our members add food preservation to their skill set.  To that end, I will try and keep you informed about various techniques and recipes.  If you are already into all of this, feel free to share a favorite recipe with the CSA.

Another topic I want to touch on this week is reviving wilting vegetables and keeping them fresh for the week.  Lettuce is a perfect example, as the heat makes it lose its crispness, a trait we all desire greatly in a good head of lettuce.  Fill a bowl or your sink with cold water.  Cut the stem end of the lettuce with a sharp knife to expose the veins that will carry water into the plant (it should ‘bleed’ white), and then submerge the whole head for 10-20 minutes, or until it perks up.

This can be done with herbs like parsley, and other leafy greens like chard.  You gather the stems together, bind with a loose-fitting rubber band, and soak until perky and happy.  Anything that doesn’t firm up in 30 minutes probably won’t, discard what looks bad.  Then dry the leafy portion, keep the stems in water, and place a plastic bag over the leaves to retain humidity, and place in the fridge.  It works great!

This Week’s Harvest: Summer Squash, Cucumbers, Lettuce, Beets, Garlic, Onions, Celery, Green Beans?, Dill?

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