IN YOUR BOX THIS WEEK
Cherry Tomatoes (Large Shares Only) // Most tomatoes should be kept out on the counter at room temperature, but cherry tomatoes need to be stored in the fridge or they over-ripen quickly.
Plum or Slicer Tomatoes // Store at room temperature for up to a week. Do not refrigerate. Use heirlooms much more quickly, immediately if you can.
Tomatillos // Store in the crisper drawer of your fridge. They should last at least a week.
Sweet Peppers (Large Shares and most Small Shares) // Refrigerate peppers, unwashed, in the vegetable drawer. Moisture makes them spoil faster so don’t store in a plastic bag.
Jalapenos // Hot peppers keep well in the fridge, especially in the crisper drawer. I often keep hot peppers in a plastic bag so that they don’t spread their heat or flavor to other fridge items.
Carrots (Large Shares and Small Shares who did not receive sweet peppers) // Refrigerate carrots in a plastic bag. They will easily keep for 2-4 weeks this way. If your carrots had tops, remove them prior to storage and store the tops separately in a separate bag. They should last 2-3 days.
Acorn Winter Squash // Store winter squash in a cool, dry place and try to use within a week or two. Do not store in the fridge! This will cause it to spoil much more quickly.
Gold Potatoes // Early in the season you will receive new potatoes which have not been cured. They can be stored just like you’d store regular potatoes, however they will not last as long at room temperature. Try to use within a few days or move to the fridge if you think it will take a couple weeks to use them.
Leeks // Store in the fridge and try to use within a week. Store in a plastic bag for best storage.
Red Onion // Store along with your garlic and potatoes in a cool dark place and try to use within a couple weeks. In the proper conditions, pure darkness and cool temperatures, they can store up to 6 months.
Thyme (Large Shares) // Lay on a damp paper towel and wrap tightly. For long term storage and drying instructions, see here.
Chives (Small Shares) // Store in the fridge in a small glass with about an inch of water, stem side down (like flowers in a vase) for best storage.
The winter squash has arrived!!! And it is absolutely perfect!
As so many of you who have been with us for years know, our winter squash fields have really let us down the past couple of seasons. Our early years of farming were marked with overwhelming production of this fall favorite and then suddenly the last couple of seasons were excessively wet and we lost the crop again and again to disease and rot. I’d like to say we’re learning what we are doing, but really winter squash production is soaring this year for a few reasons and only some of them have anything to do with us.
We’ve learned a lot through our couple years of crop failure. We learned we were planting the crop a bit too late and were not keeping it covered long enough. We planted the crop a full ten days earlier this year than we had in 2017 and 2018. We love the idea of letting squash ripen a bit later so that we don’t have to move straight from mass harvest of onions to mass harvest of squash, but have learned year after year that friends who got their squash in much earlier weren’t plagued by the massive disease and rot issues we had been experiencing. Getting this crop in almost two weeks earlier than we had before and letting the plants grow to full maturity in the summer heat seemed to be much better for its production overall.
We also continued to row cover this crop (aka cover it with that white sheer fabric) until the very last possible moment—until the plants literally grew too large and pushed their way out from under it. This is really helpful for both pest and disease resistance. Our first winter squash failure came from the squash vine borer. This is a pest that literally bores into the vines and kills the plant from the inside out. Their population spreads fast and because they are living and laying eggs inside of the plant, it’s almost impossible to stop them once a population begins. Keeping the crop covered helps keep this pest away until plants are fully mature and have already set many fruits.
Together, these two techniques have really helped our crop immensely, but we’ve also had a wonderful late summer season. The past six weeks have been much drier than the August and September of the past couple of seasons. Last season in particular was incredibly wet with 22 inches or rain falling on our farm in the month of August. Even though we had row covered our winter squash and got it into the ground in mid-June instead of late June last year, the amount of moisture just decimated the crop. That much rain brought both disease and rot to our beautiful stand of plants. They went from looking perfect to essentially looking dead in ONE week’s time.
Farming is like that. Experience matters, but so does the weather and the specific patterns of that particular season. You can think you’ve learned a lesson and implement all the right strategies for success and have a total crop failure for reasons you had never experienced before. You’re never done learning in this profession. And you’re never really in control.
Over the years, we have been lucky enough to have learned from a lot of truly talented growers and CSA farmers. The best of the best tell us to plan for 20% crop failure. 20%!!!! The best of the best tell us that each year 1/5 of what we grow may very well not turn out. Those odds are crazy.
And I’m learning that is exactly why most farmers you meet are incredibly humble and gracious. They operate under the assumption that the craft they spend their days and their weeks and their months and possibly even their lifetimes working to perfect, can never actually be perfect because it’s always at the mercy of something bigger. They have to do their best for all their customers and all of their crops, and 20% of the time that still won’t be enough. How many of us can say that? How many of us experience failure 20% of the time even when operating at 100%?
It’s amazing to ride this roller coaster and to find ourselves at the top with crops we’ve really struggled with in years previous. It’s a crazy world we’ve gotten ourselves into. And for that, we are immensely grateful.
P.S. We just wanted to let you know that we’ve got a date for the Fall Harvest Party!! It will be September 28th from 11-3 p.m. and we’re so excited to have a CSA-member led CHILI COOKOFF at this event!! We’ll also have fresh apple cider alongside more apples for pressing as well as a caramel apple building station again for the kiddos. It should be a perfect fall day at the farm. You can find our Chili Cookoff and party sign-up form here.
VEGGIE ID: Leeks ↑
Leeks are the super tall vegetables in your box this week that look almost like a giant green onion. These are one of my all time favorite veggies and I hope you learn to love them too!
They are in the allium (onion, garlic, shallots, etc) family so have that delicious allium flavor. They can be used any place where you would use an onion but I LOVE them in potato leek soup! To use them, you want to cut a tiny bit of the bottom off (the fringy part that was in the ground) as well as the leaves (use the parts that are white and pale green, skip the parts that are dark green- though they can be used for soup stock) and you can then cut them into rings or slice the leek in half and slice it much as you would an onion.
For more info on leeks and how to cut them, head over here!
VEGGIE ID: TomatilloS ↑
First and foremost, a tomatillo is not just an under-ripe tomato even though it does kind of look like that once you remove the husk. A tomatillo is a relative to the tomato and is sometimes known as a the Mexican husk tomato because of the way the fruit grows inside of a papery skin. It is a bit brighter, less sweet, and more acidic than a typical tomato.
To use them, you peel away the papery skin and give them a quick rinse under water since the skin of the actual fruit is always a bit sticky. Tomatillos are more commonly used in salsa verde (the green salsa often offered to you at Mexican restaurants). I love to use them this way or in a salad dressing with similar ingredients. Typically they are turned into a salsa or sauce of some kind.
Understanding tomato blemishes ↑
I mentioned is last week’s CSA email that the tomatoes are beginning to go down hill. It’s very common for tomatoes to begin going down in quality after 5 weeks. The fruits are still great to eat but there are a couple things to watch for.
On the left you will see some yellowing on the top of the fruit. This is called sun scald. It is very common for tomatoes to have sun scald on their tops after 5 weeks of production because at this point in the growing season, all of the tomato leaves have died off and there is nothing left to shade the ripening tomatoes. We remove the worst sun scald fruits when we clean tomatoes each week and give them to our restaurants as “seconds” or discounted damaged produce. However, since we are moving towards the end of the tomato season, we will begin to give you tomatoes with just a touch of yellowing. There is nothing wrong with these tomatoes. They will still taste delicious. We recommend just trimming the yellow portion off when you core the tomato since that portion rarely develops much delicious tomato flavor.
On the right you will see the effects of a tomato disease we get every year around this time. It is called anthracnose and it is a fungal disease that causes certain varieties of tomatoes to rot faster. Again, it is a common occurrence in organic tomatoes and is absolutely fine to eat. It is a disease that makes the tomato decay faster. It does not do anything to your body.
The photo above is just for reference. We will NEVER give you a tomato that looks like that. Any tomatoes with that much damage will be tossed into the compost. However, anthracnose is present in some of our tomatoes at this point of the season and can’t always be seen at harvest. A tomato may look perfect but due to anthracnose, decay very quickly on your counter. At this point in the season, we recommend using CSA tomatoes within 2-3 days. This means using them within 2-3 days if you plan to eat them raw OR cooking with them in 2-3 days. The disease will not spread or have any effect in a cooked product.
IN YOUR BOX NEXT WEEK
You can expect 9-10 of these items in your box next week
Slicer and/or Heirloom Tomatoes
Colored Bell Peppers or Italian Fryers
Festival or Butternut Winter Squash
Napa Cabbage or Bok Choy
KATHY'S RECIPE CORNER
Early on, Lauren's mom instilled in her a great love of cooking. She's always had a garden and knows what to do with abundant produce better than anyone. We hope you enjoy her classic Wisconsin preparations of summer abundance.
Quick Fresh Tomato Soup
1 cup chopped celery
1 leek, white and pale green parts, chopped
1 medium carrot, shredded
½ green pepper, chopped
¼ cup butter
4 ½ cups chicken broth, divided
4 cups fresh tomatoes, peeled and chopped (dip tomatoes in boiling water for 30 seconds to loosen skins)
½ teaspoon curry powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
4 teaspoon sugar
¼ cup flour
Saute’ celery, onions, carrot & green pepper in butter in stockpot. Add 4 cups of the broth, tomatoes, spices and sugar; heat to boiling. Reduce heat; simmer for 20 minutes. Blend flour with remaining ½ cup chicken broth. Stir gradually into soup, cook until slightly thickened, stirring frequently.
Every week I'll share the links to some of my favorite recipes for the produce in your box from my own blog as well as my favorite bloggers and chefs. I am a master recipe substituter so be sure to read my notes before clicking through to see what vegetables I am swapping for others and how I adapt favorite recipes time and time again with whatever is in season! Though some of the recipes I share may look complicated, I also love sharing tips for streamlining or suggesting other preparation suggestions in the notes of the recipes.
Tomato Sauce with Butter and Onion, Simplified // Uses Tomatoes, Red Onion, feel free to add Leeks and/or 1 of any of the Peppers you received this week // If you are feeling sick of tomatoes, it’s time to freeze some! I love this super simple sauce and after pureeing, it freezes great in bags or wide mouth mason jars.
Vegetarian, Vegan if you substitute olive oil for butter, Gluten-Free
Acorn Squash Quesadilla with Tomatillo Salsa // Uses Tomatillos, Acorn Squash, Jalapenos, Onion (use red or yellow), skip poblanos and use whatever Sweet Peppers you received this week // I’ve been just waiting for the day we pulled off growing tomatillos and winter squash together so I could share this perfect summer meets fall recipe.
Vegetarian, Gluten-Free (with the right tortillas)
Leek Soup with Shoestring Potatoes // Uses Leeks, Onion (use red or yellow), Potato, skip the Garlic and Parsley // A CSA member reminded me of this favorite recipe over the weekend and I’m so overjoyed that they did. I made it for a farm to table event a few summers ago without the fried herbs (my fried herbs just turned into a greasy mess) and added a simple jalapeno oil. The soup has a lot of butter and a lot of cream, but don’t let that stop you. It’s the best leek soup you will ever eat.
Shaved Carrots with Charred Dates // Uses Carrots // A salad can be made from any base of raw vegetable and carrots are no exception. You may not usually eat them this way but you should give it a try!
Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-Free
Crispy Smashed Potatoes with Fried Onions & Parsley // Uses Potatoes, Onions (use red or yellow), skip the Parsley and perhaps finish with Chives instead // I think perhaps we should all start having boiled potatoes in our fridge all the time because then you can make mashed potatoes, potato salad or my new favorite SMASHED POTATOES (!!!) in 5-10 minutes flat. I made these on the grill Sunday and they were like crispy dinner hash browns in all the best ways. One word of warning: boil the potatoes whole regardless of the size and then quarter or halve the largest ones before "smashing" for best results.
Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-Free
Winter Squash & Tomato Gratin // Uses Tomatoes and/or Cherry Tomatoes, Acorn Squash, Red Onion, feel free to add Leek, Jalapeno or Sweet Pepper, skip the parsley and maybe add some Chives instead // I wait all year for the winter squash to overlap with the tomatoes so I can share this beautiful recipe with you! It’s so simple and so tasty. You can use any winter squash and any tomatoes (though the winter squash we gave this week really should be peeled before use).
Leek & Pepper Pretzel Dip // Uses Leek, Colored Pepper, Jalapeno, maybe add some Chives if you like // Many thanks to CSA member and worker share Amy who reminded me putting random vegetables into cream cheese is ALWAYS a great idea. Leeks, jalapenos and a sweet pepper (if you still have one lying around) are a match made in heaven.
One-Pot African Peanut Stew // Uses Onion (red or yellow), Jalapenos, sub a Tomato or Two for the tomato paste and maybe a handful more for some of the vegetable broth, sub Leeks for garlic, sub Festival or Butternut Squash for sweet potato, skip the greens unless you happen to still have some kale in your fridge, add a Sweet Pepper or two, and some Carrots if you feel like it // Every time of year, I get this exact same craving and share this exact same recipe. It's the perfect dish to celebrate the time of year when tomatoes and peppers smash into winter squash. It may look like a lot of substitutions but I promise it's really not. This time of year is made for African peanut stew and the flavors of this box are just begging you to make it. Even if you want to leave out a suggested veggie ingredient or two, it will still be perfect. I promise.
Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-Free
Roasted Tomatillo Verde Chicken Enchiladas // Uses Tomatillos, Jalapenos, Onion (red or yellow), sub in Leek for some of the onion if you don’t have enough, sub in other Peppers for the poblanos, add in roasted or sauteed Acorn Squash if you like // Roasted chicken + roasted tomatillo verde salsa + a whole bunch of cheese a corn tortillas, it’s weeknight dinner perfection.
Baked Squash Mac & Cheese // Uses Acorn Squash, Onion (red or yellow or could swap in a Leek), add in whatever Peppers you feel like and maybe a handful of Chives // Even though you only got 1-2 squash this week, I still love this recipe for this box and think you should make it anyway. You can absolutely half your squash to have more to stuff, but who really cares if you wind up with some extra mac & cheese left over. Enjoy!
Crockpot Caramelized Pork Ramen Noodle Soup with Curry Roasted Acorn Squash // Uses Acorn Squash, Carrots Jalapeno, sub Leeks or Red Onion for green onions // This clearly qualifies as a PROJECT recipe. I prefer not to share project recipes for all you lovely CSA members because I know your preference is usually to cook maximum vegetables in minimum time with limited crazy techniques and/or ingredients, but this recipe, this recipe is oh so worth it. And it uses a crock pot, so that equates ease, right?