Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Great CSA Experiment Begins!

The big day has finally arrived!  No more mystery or fear. Today I am feeling beyond blessed! I picked up my CSA bushel and a ninth today with kids and husband in tow.  If you have no clue of what I speak, please click here to catch up.

Today's bushel included 4 kinds of lettuce, 7-8 green and yellow squash (including the flowers!), 3 bunches of beets, and 3 huge bunches of parsley.  I laid it all out on my kitchen island and stared at it for a good 15 minutes,  scratching my head while calling my neighbors to rescue me. Where will I put it all? (Remember, I don't have a 2nd fridge?!)

This is what a bushel and a ninth looks like!

 If you have joined the CSA and are picking up your shares this week, here are a few tips to get you started.  I will include recipes in my next blog but this one is about prepping your produce. Here is a great site to help with storage tips,  click here for more information.

1. Lettuce:  If you don't have a salad spinner, get one now. Even if it's from Job Lot, any kind will do. Remember that these veggies were just picked today so they are covered in the amazing nutrient-rich soil from whence they came (yes--soil means dirt.).  I washed mine 3 times and spun them silly.  After draining the water, you can store it in the spinner, however, you are going to have so much lettuce, you will need backup. So, here is another way to keep it fresh:
Lay out the washed and drained leaves on top of paper towels and store in the fridge in a covered container.
2. Parsley: No need to wash it, yet. Simply snip the ends.
And place in a glass jar with water to cover the stems. You may need to refresh the water from time to time.
You can also cover it with a plastic bag and elastic the bottom to create a greenhouse effect. I store mine in the fridge. When you are ready to use it, wash and dry the leaves, then chop up as needed.

3. Beets:  Cut most of the greens and their stems from the beet roots, so they do not pull away moisture away from the root. Leave about two inches of the stem attached to prevent the roots from "bleeding." Do not wash before storing. Place in a plastic bag and wrap the bag tightly around the beets, squeezing out as much of the air from the bag as possible. Place in refrigerator where they will keep for up to 3 weeks. Store the unwashed greens in a separate plastic bag squeezing out as much of the air as possible. Place in refrigerator where they will keep fresh for about four days.
Raw beets do not freeze well since they tend to become soft upon thawing. Freezing cooked beets is fine; they'll retain their flavor and texture.
4. Zucchini:  Store zucchini in a plastic bag in the refrigerator crisper drawer four to five days.  Do not wash until ready to use. At the first sign of wilting, use immediately.  For the zucchini flowers, sprinkle with water, wrap gently in paper towels and refrigerate. Use as quickly as possible.

My wheels have been turning all day long and I am excited to share some recipes with you next.  Stay tuned!

A special thank you to my friend, Mark Sylvestre for taking these photos!

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