As we were packing & delivering CSA shares today, we thought of a few more details that we wanted to communicate to members. Here’s the list:
Bag handling: We’re using our new delivery bags, made in the US of Texas organic cotton and printed locally by Diggit Graphics. Each week you’ll get your share in a bag, while returning the previous week’s bag. There are three bags per household, labelled with your name; the third one is for overflowing shares and/or a backup in case you don’t return one. You’re welcome to use the bags for other shopping, as (a) we’ll be washing them on the farm before re-use, and (b) they’ll only be used for your household so you have control over what you do or don’t put in them. You don’t need to wash them (unless you make a mess) as we won’t be able to keep track of who has or hasn’t done so; easier just to do each batch ourselves for clarity and efficiency. We have a high-efficiency washing machine and solar hot water, so it’s not a major bother for us.
Coolers: Some of you have fairly small coolers. We doubt that shares, even partial ones, will fit in lunch-sized coolers, and don’t want to leave fresh produce out in the summer heat. Even this fairly basic early spring share was too big for a couple locations. In addition, milk or egg deliveries won’t be made if there is no cooler to place them in; we’re just not comfortable doing so. If acquiring a bigger cooler is a concern for you, contact us and we can work something out.
Storing produce: Everything in this share will be happiest if stored at refrigeration temperatures. Generally speaking, crops that grow best in cool weather are also best off if stored at cool temperatures. (Some of the warm-season, heat-loving crops are the ones that can be damaged by overly cool storage temperatures: basil, tomatoes, and sweet potatoes, for example. But we won’t have to worry about those for a while yet.)
Washing your produce: We always suggest that you wash produce. We almost always harvest greens (such as spinach) into cool water to take out the field heat; this greatly increases the storage life of the crop. However, we don’t necessarily do a full wash, and occasional weeds and/or insects may sneak into the tub, as well. Thus, it’s always a good idea to give another rinse & sorting before eating. Also, we always run greens through a salad spinner before we bag them up for you; greens won’t store well if they’re overly wet. If you wash more than you’re going to use at once, giving them a spin before putting them back in the refrigerator is a good idea. We generally don’t wash herbs at all, as we don’t want to do anything to lessen the aroma & flavor before they get to you. (If it is raining at harvest time, as it was this morning, the herbs will be be damp from the rain). Just give herbs a quick rinse before use.
Using green alliums (onion-family plants): I remember my first time as a CSA member (long ago) when I had a bundle of spring green onions & a recipe that called for an onion and wondered, “Will this work?” I figured out pretty quickly that, in most cases, the answer was “yes”, except for something that really relied on bulb onions (say French onion soup), which is effectively now out of season. The whites of most spring alliums tend to be the strongest part, and they hold up best to cooking, so sautéing the white parts is generally a good bet. Chives, garlic chives, and the tops of green onions are excellent snipped raw on top of dishes.
The alliums will need a bit of clean up in the kitchen, mainly rinsing & trimming roots. Treat perennial leeks as you would standard leeks: slice lengthwise & rinse well with running water to remove any grit from between the layers.
Notes on mint: The mint bundles in this distribution include two kinds of mint, and at times we’ll give you a choice of which kind of mint you want, so here’s a quick description of our dominant mint varieties:
- “Orange Mint”: The flavor isn’t especially citrus-y, nor is it especially orange in color (quite purple, actually, especially under the leaves), but that’s what the plant was labeled when I bought it years ago, so I’ve stuck with the name. The flavor is distinct, with a nice cooling effect. This is my preferred mint for hot or iced tea, and it works well in many desserts.
- “Kentucky Colonel Mint”: The leaves of this mint are solid green. This is described as a spearmint; we think it has the most generic (in a good way) mint flavor of the mints we grow. This mint is excellent when infused in a sugary syrup for a base of mixed drinks (such as mojitos or mint juleps). We also like it in Middle Eastern & Mediterranean dishes.
We have a few other mint varieties, but those two are the most prolific & best flavored. (Mint does not come true-to-type from seed; every plant started from seed will be a little different from any other. Mint is easy to propagate by cuttings, so when someone finds a really yummy variety, clones of that single variety will be passed/sold among many people.)
Composting scraps: It is not practical for us to take produce scraps back to compost at the farm, but we hope that you will compost trimmings & food scraps rather than sending them to a landfill. If you don’t or can’t have your own backyard compost pile, then one option is to bring your food scraps to our friends at the Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture. They’re at 1209 E. Smith Street, just a few blocks from downtown Columbia. The location is staffed Thursday afternoons after 4 p.m., and someone can show you what to do with your scraps then. After that you should be able to drop scraps off at your convenience. Or go to their website & drop them an email for details.