Notes from the Farm
Some of our farmer friends at the market lightly remarked “Miracle Grow ” when they saw the size of our cabbage. It’s time to make a serious batch of coleslaw and invite forty of your very closest friends! The success of our cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower crop rests with the pigs and sheep, who resided in the spot that is now those vegetable beds at various times in the last two years. I believe this is the last enormous cabbage you will get for the season. Fortunately you will be saved by a couple of our friends who have quite an appetite for saurkraut. If you would like to give them personal thanks I will forward your emails.
The most exciting farm related item of the week is the arrival of cucumbers– no cooking required!
The large shares will get a few tomatoes this week, mostly Ida golds, which are early but not the zippiest tasting tomato out there. The really small ones are sungolds, our favorite cherry tomato.
This Week’s CSA
This week I’m sure Leon would say the share is bursting with bounty! Waiting for you in the CSA box, you will find salad mix, yellow wax beans, cucumbers, zucchini, one very large green cabbage, red onion, carrots, Swiss chard, basil, and yellow transparent apples.
The two new items, beans and cucumbers, both do fine in the refrigerator in plastic bags. Too much moisture can cause the beans and cucumber to mold, so make sure they are exposed to air. Cut ends of cucumbers can be wrapped with plastic. Apples can be stored in a cool place at room temperature or in the refrigerator.
Both the yellow wax beans and cucumber are great for snacking on or served on a vegetable tray with your favorite dip. Cucumbers also make a refreshing, light salad or can be added to coleslaw. Yellow wax beans can be treated just like green beans to make your favorite summer bean salad or they can be added to many stir fry dishes. If you feel overwhelmed by the beans, they can also be blanched, shocked and then frozen for use later this winter. The fresh basil can be used to make pesto, which goes really well with wax beans.
The yellow transparent apples from last week and this week are an heirloom variety that comes from Russia. Popular since they ripen early, these apples are great for juicing, making apple sauce, drying, and of course pies. Their white juicy flesh is naturally sweet with some mild acid flavor, so make sure to taste for sugar before adding what a recipe calls for. These apples are also great sliced thickly and sautéed briefly in butter and sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar for a dessert treat or a sweet addition to your morning oatmeal.
As for the very large cabbage (anywhere from 8-10 pounds), please don’t be overwhelmed! Fortunately cabbage lasts a long time stored in your refrigerator. Any cut surface needs to be wrapped in plastic; it may brown over time but that edge can be cut off before using again. For a great side dish to pork or grilled sausage, sauté the onion, cabbage, and apples together in a little butter or oil; add the apples near the end so they do not get mushy. Really this cabbage would be perfect for sauerkraut, which is a fun home fermentation project that requires only counter space and patience. I won’t go into how fermentation works here but if you are interested, I would suggest Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz. He is considered a modern day expert on fermentation and goes in to detail on how it works with creating good bacteria that prevents spoilage. It really is as easy as shredding the cabbage and mixing it with salt to create a brine that the cabbage ferments in at room temperature while it becomes sauerkraut. Of course you’ll want to start with sterile containers and pay attention to it through the process to avoid any problems.
For another idea on making sauerkraut at home, check out Saveur.com and the recipe for a spicy kraut. The October 2011 issue that this recipe appears in also has a good article on the basics of fermenting at home.
For more information of home fermenting, please look at the following sites for the details that will help you if this is your first time making kraut. One site suggests a crock but kraut can also be made glass jars or a food grade plastic container.