Adventures in CSAing

In CSA, Vegetables on November 8, 2011 at 1:17 pm

I mentioned in my initial challenge post about my CSA (Community Sponsored Agriculture).  Basically, we city folk buy a share of an organic farm, and every week the farmer drives from Riverhead, LI, and brings the best crops he harvested that week.  Based on what’s available and in season, you’ll get 7-11 kinds of veggies.  The best part about the share is you never know what you’ll get and you get to try new (interesting) things.  The worst part is that you never know what you’ll get and HAVE TO try new (weird) things.

In the beginning of the season, it’s mostly leafy greens, lettuces, radishes, and beets.  It was really difficult to keep up with the supply and not buy other veggies, but sometimes you just want a cucumber or a pepper (even if it’s flown from out of state).  The first week I had only used half of the veggies, and then had another full week to work with.  It took me a good month to get in the flow of using up (almost) everything.  Then came July and August, which had all the yummy basil, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, eggplant, zucchini.  I miss those days.  I would even use up everything by Wednesday or Thursday.

Now that we’re at the tail end of the season, it’s looking a lot more like the beginning of the season.  I walked to the garden, had my name checked off, and went to look at the whiteboard for what to take.

And there we go…a weird veggie: Mizuna.  It was one of those words where you just had to ask “WTF is that?”.  I’d say the same with braising greens, but fortunately (or unfortunately) we’d be stiffed with those back in June, and I know that it was basically a mix of greens like kale, beet greens, and anything else that fell off the plants.  Anyway, I did manage to use the Mizuna right away (which I’ll talk about in a later post), because it’s always better to use the leafy greens earlier in the week.

Next, It was time to pick everything out.  Usually, there is little room for choice, but this week you could chose 2 winter squash, and there were a few kinds: acorn, sweet dumpling, spaghetti, and some other ones I didn’t recognize.  I also could choose between red and green lettuce.  I opted for red, because any opportunity to reduce the green in my bag is very much seized.

I got home, and now it was time to get to work.  I found the best way to maximize the veggie shelf life is to clean and store them ASAP.  My prep tools are 1)2 large  bowls with water 2)2 bath towels (old ones that you don’t really use anymore) 3)paper towels and 4)reusable veggie saver bags (or ziplocks).  When they’re all cleaned up and stored, they are ready to go in the fridge.  See the before and after, and then I will explain the process.

The first items to clean are the very thin/leafy greens.  You should definitely wash lettuce first, because it needs time to dry before packaging.  You put it in a bowl with water, let it sit a couple minutes, swoosh around, and the lay out on a towel.  After a couple minutes, you fold it up so that more water is absorbed.   While they dry, you can focus on everything else and pack the lettuce up at the end.

The process is similar for all other leafy greens, except they don’t need as much time to dry.  For the collards, I opt to pre-chop 4 of the leave for an easy grab and go lunch veggies, and save the other 3 for a dinner later in the week (I’ll want to chop those really tiny, because you know who is gonna eat them).

When one item is removed from the bowl, I put in the next one.  I grabbed the braising greens and dropped them into the bowl.  A couple dropped on the floor.  Indy had a ball.  Then I let them sit on a kitchen towel, then wrapped them in paper towel to be stored.

Then I rinsed the dill in the bowl, dried the same way, but I wrapped the stems in a damp paper towel. This is a trick I learned for preserving fresh herbs for more than 1 day before they turn brown.

The last items to be washed were the winter squash.  You only have to do this if you’re going to eat the skin.  You just soak them in the water and scrub clean!  When all is said and done, there is a lot of dirt on the bottom of those bowls.

I don’t wash the carrots because they get scraped anyway.  I also don’t wash the broccoli because it’s best to just lightly dunk them in water before use, otherwise it gets gross.   Interestingly,  broccoli and collard greens are related to each other.  You can notice how the leaves that stem from the broccoli are smaller versions of the collard leaves.

The final step is to pack up the lettuce.  I line a large tupperware (about 7 or 8 cup size) with paper towel, lay down a layer of leaves, and then repeat until the container is full.  It keeps the leaves super fresh!

And there you have it!  8 veggies prepped for the week.  I took the night off Saturday, but got working the next day to chip away at all this greenery.  Stay tuned to see how I use everything.

  1. […] that if prepared the right way mimics the appearance of angel hair pasta.  Luckily I found one in my share this week, so it was the perfect opportunity to use it.  For myself, I would just eat the squash, but for […]

  2. […] the burgers, but rather as a side.  I placed the burger on a bed of the red lettuce that was left from my CSA share.  I topped with the mayo and some organic ketchup (it’s still Heinz, but no corn syrup […]

  3. […] meal didn’t really use my CSA veggies, just a lil bit of the lettuce leaves.  However, I did finish up the salad stuff from last week, […]

  4. […] my pristine macrobiotic-ish dish.  Everything is so yummy and comforting.  I used 3 of the veggies: squash, broccoli, and mizuna – all in one […]

  5. […] Agriculture.  I’ve written about my share in the past, and you can read more about it here.  I am a big advocate of this movement, and would highly encourage anyone looking to save money, […]

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