Sogn Valley Farm CSA Newsletter Week 18 | Oct 2-3, 2018
What's In The Box
Spinach: We are welcomed to fall by the return of spinach to our field and kitchen. This week's spinach is tender and well suited to fresh eating, in a green salad or other cold dish, such as our perennial favorite Spinach-Squash Salad.
Purple top turnips: Another crop which shows up only once weather gets chilly in the fall is the storage turnip. Although these white roots aren't as flashy as carrots or beets, they are delightful roasted, in soups, or boiled and mashed (especially when combined with celeriac or potatoes). If kept in a plastic bag, these can last for many weeks in the fridge. For those of you new to turnips, or on the fence about them, try this week's recipe, which “enhances” them with butter and maple syrup.
Butternut squash: We love butternuts because they are so versatile. They can be halved and baked, cubed and roasted, or boiled with other veggies and pureed into a soup. These have been cured for a couple of weeks, so are starting to get sweeter than they would have been straight out of the field.
Potatoes: Once again, potatoes from Driftless Organics. This week's are mostly red. Predictibly, our standard go-to is roasting cubed potatoes with a healthy amount of garlic. They are also used in the butternut squash soup recipe linked above.
Garlic: This week, you are receiving Chesnok Red, a mild garlic with beautiful purple striped paper. This variety retains flavor well when cooked - good for baking and roasting. The bulbs of our 2018 crop were on the smaller side.
Curly parsley: Parsley seems beckoned into all sorts of fall dishes, from soups to roasted veggies. This'll keep pretty well for a week or two in a plastic bag in the fridge if you don't use it right away. Use in this week's recipe.
Cipollini onions: These coin-shaped onions are exceptionally rich in flavor and high in sugar, leading them to be frequently used as the feature in appetizers and side dishes. They are still quite pungent when raw—don't misconstrue them for a mild sweet onion. But carmelize, roast, or grill them and you will be rewarded. I'm told soaking them in water for a couple of minutes can make them easier to peel. My usual method is to cut them in half, top-to-bottom, then slice off the top of the onion and notch out the core on the bottom. Then peel the remainder.
Cucumber: Ok, one more cucumber in boxes. The plants get pulled next week.
Red leaf lettuce/salad mix (half shares) or assorted microgreens (full shares)
Romanesco cauliflower (Rotational - full shares only)
D'Avignon or red radishes (Rotational - half shares only)
Each week, we’ll give some hints about what new items may show up CSA shares in the next 1 -2 weeks. Please note, this is not a guarantee, but our attempt to give you an idea of what’s coming up.
Beets or carrots— Sweet potatoes — Assorted peppers — Tomatoes — Onions — Winter squash — Kale
As the summer CSA concludes, the weather has followed suit. We received our first frost last Friday night, the earliest of the last three years. But it's actually later than average—the historic “first frost date” is actually around mid- September for this area.
Either way, the consequences were not all that great. All outdoor cucurbit plants are toast (isn't that weird how we often use heat-related terms to described the effects of cold?). Pepper leaves got singed (see?!) but only slightly and are still alive and growing, fruit unscathed. And at this point, there's no threat of frost for the next week or more. This will allow inclusion of some peppers in early fall CSA boxes, along with an additional harvest of some of our wholesale hot peppers.
The first frost often triggers mixed emotions in the farmer. On the one hand, it can deal a fatal blow to frost-tender crops with plenty of harvest potential, meaning loss of potential revenue. That's a bummer. But on the other hand, it's October, we've been working our butts off since March and are longing for winter rest. “Bring the cold and kill it all,” says this other perspective. I'm somewhere in the middle right now.
But while we continue to pick peppers and the last few tomatoes, the real focus is on fall crops. Last Friday, just ahead of the frost, we dug sweet potatoes. I was expecting a disappointing harvest, given that we lost a large percentage of the slips (sweet potato planting stock) in the heat wave that occured around the time of planting. But I was pleasantly surprised at the size and quality of tubers that we pulled up from the plants that did survive.
The curing process that follows is one that we've struggled with in the past due to insufficient infrastructure. Sweet potatoes require a period of 4-7 days at 85°and 90% relative humidity in order to heal wounds from harvest handling and to induce a chemical conversion of starch to sugar within the tubers. After curing, sweet potatoes will taste sweeter and have longer shelf life.
Previously, we have moved sweet potatoes into an open space in the high tunnel, created a tent over them using a large tarp, and then placed heaters, humidifiers, and large pots of water on hot plates inside to keep the temperature and humidity up. However, it has always been very inconsistent, as the ambient temperature in the high tunnel (which is not heated) drops to the 40s or lower at night this time of year, and a tarp just doesn't have enough insulative properties for the heat to be retained.
I tried something different this year. Instead of putting them in the high tunnel, I put them in oue now-insulated packing shed. I consolidated the sweet potatoes into the corner of our packing area, then placed insulated panels and foamboard around and over the bins to create an insulated enclosure. Still very homespun and experimental, but functional. With a single electric heater and simmering water bath inside, the conditions are staying consistently pretty close to where they need to be. I'll be curious how this year's crop fares in storage as we move into the late fall. Hopefully, we will have less spoilage than we have had in previous years.
Thanks to all of you for sharing this season with us. We look forward to seven more weeks with fall share members.
Have a great week.
Maple Glazed Turnips (Serves 4)
2 lbs turnips
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 pinch grated nutmeg
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper
1. Wash and peel the turnips and cut into 1 inch dice.
2. Heat 1 T. of the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and pepper and stir.
3. Add the turnips and then add water to a depth of 1/4" in the pan. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and steam until the turnips are tender, about 7-8 minutes.
4. Uncover and continue to cook until the liquid has reduced and the turnip pieces are glazed with the syrup and spices, about 3 minutes.
5. Add the remaining butter along with the chopped parsley and lemon juice. Shake the pan to coat the turnips evenly.
6. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.