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Week 14 Newsletter

September 26, 2013

In Your Box:

–Carrots

–Cauliflower or Broccoli

Celery

–Chard

–Red Onion

–Salad mix

–Sweet pepper

–Sweet potato

–Tomatoes

Remember when the boxes were really light and nearly empty in the spring? Remember when the weather wouldn’t cooperate at all and I complained vociferously in every newsletter? Thankfully, those days are long behind us and we’re enjoying a picture-perfect September with a bounty flowing in from the fields. Our only problem now is picking what to harvest, what can wait, and how to fit it all in the box.

For the first time in several weeks, this box is quite different in its contents from previous weeks. It’s also one of the most colorful we have to offer this year.

Cauliflower and Broccoli make an appearance this week, and it looks like we’ll have a decent harvest to make up for the poor performance from our spring planting. These come on gradually and at staggered rates, so about half of you will get each crop this week. I’ll keep track of who receives what, and in a couple weeks I’ll try to balance it out. I’ve done all I could to get the bugs out, but unfortunately you might find a few stragglers hidden.  Cauliflower and broccoli are basically bug motels—cabbage worms, ladybugs, stinkbugs, etc.  To get them out, just soak the crops in a bowl of water with a couple dashes of salt.

Purple cauliflower? There are actually a few different colors of cauliflower that can be grown, including purple, orange, and green. We stick with the usual white, but much of our fall harvest has a purplish tint to it. This is probably due to plant stress, which I would blame on the heat wave we’ve endured in early September. As a result, our heads aren’t quite as snow-white pure as what you see on grocery store shelves, but the taste and quality don’t suffer from the slight color impurity. I suppose my face would probably also turn purple if I had to stare face up to the sun all day in 90 degree heat…

I dug up Sweet Potatoes this week, but I wasn’t too impressed with the result. While the plants put out beautiful growth above ground, they didn’t do much more than form pencil-sized tubers underneath. We did have a few good-sized ones, but most of what I dug up were quite small. Sweet potatoes are not commonly grown in Minnesota, and everyone in our organic farming community rolled their eyes when I mentioned I would be growing them for the first time this season. They seem to be a crop that everyone tries for a year or two and gives up on. I’ll give them another shot next year, perhaps with a different variety. For recipe purposes, this week half shares received 11 ounces and full shares 1 lb. 6 oz.
Sweet potatoes should be stored at room temperature and open to the air. They will not keep if refrigerated. And because they have been scrubbed and not fully cured, they should be used within a couple weeks. Skins do not need to be peeled, but should be scrubbed a bit more if necessary before using. Try them baked, steamed, fried, or mixed in with mashed potatoes.

Our final new crop this week is Celery. We had very poor germination with it this spring, so this will be the only offering of celery this year. Celery is believed to be native to the south of France, and its early culinary usage extends around the Mediterranean. Celery has been used throughout history as a garland for the dead during burial. It was also used as a garland for the victorious in early Olympic-type games, before it was replaced by crowns made of pine.

The celery we grow is more similar to this early wild crop than the grocery store offerings that are mostly water. This celery might be a little less kid-friendly, though it adds a nice crispy bite to soups, stews, and stir-fries. Keep celery in the fridge for a week or so, preferably in the hydrator drawer.

Just three more weeks to go! Still to come: Pie Pumpkins, Winter Squash, Turnips, Spinach, Cabbage, and more

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