This Week’s Share: It’s Fall! The calendar may still say summer, but we all know what’s going on here. It’s soup season.
Leeks! The first of the season- use just as you would onions- and yes, you can use all but the very ends of the green section, as well as the white. The farther toward the tips of the leaves, the more fibrous they are, but you can a) use the dark green leaf tips for soup stock (simmer with other veggies and herbs, then discard leaves), or b) slice very, very thinly and cook til very tender. Leeks are reputed to be milder than onions in flavor, but that depends on the leek (and onion) in question. I find them generally delicious and flavorful, often mellow, but not always. It’s nice to “sweat” leeks (cook in butter/oil over low heat in a covered dish to soften them completely and draw out every possible drop of leeky goodness into that fat) before adding other ingredients to a soup base or other dish. See Recipes section for my favorite simple veggie soup stock.
Potatoes - Did you really think we’d give you leeks without potatoes? This week you’ll see either more Caribe (early-season purple-skinned, white-fleshed spud), Red Gold (red-skinned, gold-fleshed), or possibly we’ll do a first harvest of the longer-season “storage” potatoes, Yukon Gold, Carola, or Sangre. Potatoes will keep for months if stored at very low temps and very high humidity (the fridge is actually not a bad place for potato storage as long as they’re not in plastic, and you have the extra space there). They’ll also keep for weeks in a paper bag or breathable bin, out of the light, at a cool room temp. See Recipes for my favorite Potato-Leek soup.
Celery- A second round! Remember when you got celery a month or so ago, and we said we’d harvested loose leaves to see if the plants would continue to grow, so you’d get more celery per season than if we’d cut the whole plants at that point? See what you think about the size of these heads- you may see more loose leaves, or whole plants. Either way, celery keeps best in a plastic bag in the fridge for one to two weeks. Cut off the leaves from the stems to maximize storage life. If you plan to cook it, you can blanch and freeze it, then store in plastic in the freezer til winter stew or soup calls.
Kale or Swiss Chard- we try to offer a mix of cooking greens (kale, chard, cabbage, Asian greens, etc) but every time we try to skip kale/chard, someone asks for more! I love our CSA members- not everyone has such an affinity for greens. You guys are awesome. And healthy, I suspect. You might toss some of those greens into your soup, concocted from the first three share items (above)….Check Recipes section for a reminder about Greens Patties, or “Leafburgers” as someone called them last year. Will you share your favorite greens recipes on the blog? The best way to post a recipe is to “comment” on an existing post. http://birchpointfarm.blogspot.com/
Beans- the beans are back, with a vengeance. And these aren’t even the pole beans I promised you- it’s the bush beans again! You may see classic green, a few different varieties, Royal Burgundy purple beans, or Dragon Langerie, a streaked flat-podded bean classically grown for fresh shelling (if you get some exceptionally large ones, you may want to try that), but we like the flavor of it as a green bean so much, we harvest it that way instead of waiting for them to mature into shelling beans. Who wants to make Dilly Beans? Beans will be available by the bushel or half bushel soon for canners and freezers.
Garlic- how’s the garlic dosage? Anyone overloaded, not enough, just right? See Recipes for my favorite garlic roasting method. We’re already looking forward to planting this fall, probably on or around Halloween, and you are all invited (look for an invitation soon). In addition to the excellent hardneck garlic we’ve done the past 3 years, I’m excited to plant some softneck garlic for making garlic braids next season!
Tomatoes are still giving us juicy, luscious slicers, sweet cherries, and the start of the roma/paste varieties. (knock on wood) so far, no late blight, the fungal disease that completely wiped out our crop last year. As long as the plants are healthy, we’ll continue to harvest until the first frost, which is usually late September/early October (but who can say, anymore? It was the 3rd week of October last year!). See Recipes section for the tomato soup we’ve been enjoying at the farmt this week.
Peppers- both sweet (bells, pimientos, and/or long, narrow “frying” types) and hot (jalapenos, citrus-scented limons, streaked “fish” hot peppers, or a few random other hot chiles) peppers may show up again this week. I like to add a little heat to winter soups, in the form of a chile or two chopped and tossed in with time to infuse the pot with extra warmth. If you’re still feeling summer, try roasting peppers over an open flame and making salsa!
Eggplant (possibly)- you’ve probably noticed this hasn’t been much of an eggplant year! As beautiful and healthy as the plants are, the flower and fruit set has been scant. It may have been the heat wave at the time the plants wanted to set their main flowering (too much heat inhibits them), it may have been a cosmic anti-eggplant year, or both. Either way, I wish we had more to share with you; perhaps they’ll kick out another wave of flowers and fruits this fall.
Melons- thanks to your fellow CSA members who came to the planting party in early June, there are a LOT of melons this year! That rain last week caused many of them to come on all at once (we had to harvest them b/c of splitting rinds, whereas normally they would’ve held in the field another week or two), but there are still a few cantaloupes and honeydews, and enough watermelons for everyone to get at least one more week’s worth. If we get another heat wave, I’d recommend “agua de melon” or “agua de sandia,” two Mexican treats- simply toss a handful of melon flesh (seeds removed) into a blender with plenty of ice and cold water (still or fizzy), and voila, a refreshing summer beverage.
Herbs: Basil and/or Parsley and/or Cilantro- there’s definitely basil for everyone, and depending on how fast the parsley is growing (it’s been slow the last month, hence the lack of parsley in shares), you may see parsley and/or cilantro as well.