CSA distribution #7 & newsletter

Our next CSA distribution will be Monday May 14 and Thursday May 17. This will be the best share yet, with the diversity of items continuing to increase, including spring turnips and garlic scapes this week. Some of you may still want to invest in a bigger, or a second, cooler as we could barely fit last week’s share in some. Coming up this weekend is our cheese-making demonstration event, which will present lots of ways to use fresh milk at home. If you forgot this was coming, remember to check the member event schedule to put anything of interest on your calendar ahead of time. Read on below for more on this week’s produce, the cheese/milk event, and other on-farm news.

CHEESE/MILK EVENT
On Saturday May 12 we’ll be hosting CSA members interested in learning more about home cheese-making and other uses of fresh milk. We’ll be sampling and/or demonstrating various stages of products potentially including ricotta, chevre, mozzarella, feta, aged cheddar/gouda, fresh yogurt, cajeta (Mexican goat’s milk caramel), and so on, all of which we make in our home kitchen and so know that others can, too. We’re not  experts (that would be Goatsbeard Farm), though our aged cheddar did win a blind taste test two years ago and has continued to improve with practice. We’ve just learned enough in four years of home dairy management to make pretty good cheeses and be able to pass along some practical knowledge and experience (including our failures). Should be a fun time; those who can’t make it should consider signing up for one of the CSA member dinners every fourth Sunday, as we’ll likely also feature various cheeses at these. Just a reminder, we can’t legally sell any of these products (just raw milk) without overly expensive infrastructure, so learning to make them yourself is the next best step.

PRODUCE

NEW! Hakurei spring turnips
These delicious morsels grow like radishes and have a really nice flavor. They’re decent raw and quite good cooked. Joanna is generally not a big fan of turnips but approves of these. Try them roasted or sauteed; the greens are good for cooking as well. Above right, a wonderful preparation using lots of CSA produce (on-farm ingredients in italics): turnips sauteed with green onions, garlic scape pesto, saute mix, kale, & turnip greens, with a bit of balsamic vinegar and salt.

NEW! Garlic scapes
Arriving a couple of weeks before expected, these are the latest sign of the early spring. Scapes are the tender young flower stem of a hardneck garlic plant, which shoot up about a month before the heads are ready. They must be removed for maximum head size (read more here), and fortunately are wonderfully tasty and versatile in their own right. Scapes can be chopped and used like fresh garlic in any recipe. Our favorite way to use them, and preserve them, is to make scape pesto, an easy recipe that can be frozen for use throughout the year (Red & Moe restaurant purchased large quantities of scapes from us last year and used scape pesto as their base garlic flavoring on pizza well into the summer). Small quantities available this week, with many more coming in future weeks, likely in preservation quantities.

[updated 5/11] NEW! Scallions
Similar to last week’s green onions from a culinary perspective (though a bit thinner), but a big difference from a growing perspective. Last week’s share included the end of the overwintered green onions, while this week’s scallions were started from seed and transplanted this spring.

Strawberries
We think larger quantities of Sparkle will be available this week as all the beds hit their production stride. We’re now harvesting ~12-18 lb every 36 hours, somewhat dependent on the particular weather leading up to harvest. At the high end, that would translate to up to 2 quarts per full share (1 quart for half share) if there aren’t too many seconds. We harvest the day before distribution for CSA (so the berries have sufficient time to chill before going out for delivery); all other harvests of the week are preserved as the core of our year-round fruit supply (along with local apples & peaches). Oh, and we eat plenty fresh, too, as do our workers.

Lettuce mix/heads
Saute mix
Radishes
Kale

HERBS
This week full shares will get 4 bundles and partial shares 2. One new addition (cilantro), and a few to look forward to sometime in the next few weeks: parsley, dill, lavender, & maybe a little anise hyssop.

NEW! Cilantro: First small quantities available. Cilantro is an odd herb in that most Americans associate it with summer produce like salsa tomatoes, yet it actually doesn’t like heat and grows best in spring and fall. Enjoy it while it’s available; we like it in all sorts of Asian dishes as well as traditional Mexican cooking.
Thyme
Oregano
Sage
Tarragon
Orange mint
Spearmint

Garlic chives
Chives
Lemon balm

EGGS (sold separately)
Eggs are $6/dozen and will be no more than a week old when distributed (usually just a couple of days). There will be 4-5 dozen available on each distribution day.

FRESH GOAT’S MILK (sold separately)
Milk is $6/ half-gallon, no more than 2 days old. Easy uses (beyond cheese & yogurt) include ice cream, egg nog, cream sauces, chowders, caramels, baking, and more.

RECENTLY ON THE FARM

We don’t usually say this, but the weather is being really cooperative and crops are generally looking really good right now. Sure, there are plenty of weeds and a long to-do list, but vegetables are growing beautifully with limited pest pressure so far. It’s been transplant mania this week, as we set out all sorts of summer items, including these rows of young pepper plants. Harvest work is really kicking in as well, trying to keep up with strawberries and everything else. The first zucchini planting is already setting buds, too, though pests have already found their way to some of the plants even under the protective row cover (which can be seen in the background of the above photo). Coming soon, likely for distribution #8, the first peas and mustard greens among other things:

ON-FARM FOOD
More ways we’ve been using CSA produce (on-farm ingredients in italics)

Above left German noodles (from World Harvest), with dried tomatoes & peppers, sauteed mixed greens, chives, home-cured pancetta, fresh goat chevre, garlic scape pesto.

Above right Salad: The Meal: large plate of head lettuce, lettuce mix, saute mix, radishes, chives, garlic chives, fresh goat cheese, home-cured ham, dressing of balsamic vinegar, olive oil, herbs, garlic.

Not photographed:  Polenta (fresh-ground dried corn), cream sauce of goat’s milk, goat cheese, dried peppers & tomatoes, herbs.

5 thoughts on “CSA distribution #7 & newsletter

  1. Okay, you guys, I need to know your mysterious scape removal technique! This is the first I’ve heard that the scapes could be pulled up, instead of just being cut off. I’ve tried to pull a few of ours up, but have only managed to break them off at the top. What’s your secret?

  2. Annette,

    Easier to show than describe, but I’ll try. Grasp the scape in your left hand right where it comes out of the plant (I use thumb and forefinger). With your right hand, grasp it farther up, usually right at the top of the curve if it has one, or at the base of the bulb. Pull gently but steadily with the right hand, using the left hand primarily to ease some of the tension as the scape starts to feel like it’s stretching out. It’ll feel like pulling on a bungee cord. Slide your left hand down as often as necessary to maintain your grip right where it comes out of the plant. Eventually it’ll either break somewhere high up (in which case you’ll still get more scape than cutting), or it’ll give way at the base (as it’s supposed to) and give this odd popping sound as it comes sliding out of the plant stalk with a distinctive schlooping noise. The lower, and best, part will be a lighter green and moist and tender.

    You can get almost double the length if you get this right. Some varieties are easier than others, though we’ve failed to keep records as to which is which. I really should take and post a video of this, but easier said than done. With practice, I can now pull scapes about as fast as cutting them, which yields a lot more (and better) product.

    Keep practicing, and keep the bungee comparison in mind. You want it to gently stretch until it lets go at the base, and keeping steady but not harsh pressure is the way to do this. Very rarely, you’ll pull too hard and yank up the entire plant. If that happens, you almost certainly tugged instead of pulling, and/or the plant was small and weak in the first place.

    Let us know how it goes!

  3. Eric,
    Thanks for the description! It would be awesome if you could create a video showing this technique; I hardly found anything about it online.

    I practiced this on my German Extra-Hardy plants that were ready today to have their scapes removed. I am no scape-pulling expert, but after 100 plants I started to get the hang of it! There were only a couple that I’m pretty sure broke all the way at the bottom, but even on the ones that broke farther toward the top, I’m sure I got more out than I would have if I’d just cut them.

    Thanks again for the insight and tips on the technique. I’ll definitely use this method from here on out instead of just cutting them off. Thanks!