Thoughtful Food

The Great Garlic Harvest by Leda
June 23, 2010, 8:36 pm
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The garlic that you and I buy in the store is a tiny relic of a much bigger process. This Tuesday, yesterday, I began to get a sense of what the culmination of that process is all about. That morning, Andrew announced that our 1/6 of an acre of Dujanskij hardneck garlic was finally ready to be harvested! Since we have arrived we have weeded, watched, and cut skapes off of this garlic (cutting the skapes off aids the bulbing process), so this harvest was something we have all been looking forward to.

Harvesting garlic is about what you would expect: A shovel is used to loosen the roots and then the stalk is pulled to unearth the loose plant. Our crew rotated duties from shoveling to collecting armfuls of the loosened garlic. This is what we on the farm like to call a vigorous activity (and I think we all felt a little drained today from all the vigor).

Within the span of one day we harvested approximately 800-900 pounds of garlic. With seven people you can see that we each were responsible for about 120 pounds of garlic! That’s a lot of garlic! The picture above is the garlic laid out on tables we set in a shady grove next to the greenhouse (the garlic will cure for about 3-4 weeks). I cannot wait to cook with those delicious cloves!

-Farmer Leda


Keeping Greens Freshhhhhh by Leda
June 15, 2010, 7:59 pm
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The abundance of greens that are now ubiquitous at Four Frog (and in your CSA boxes this time of year) have been a great blessing and a little bit of a burden. I should be thankful for all of our lettuces and arugula and kale that allowed us to finally start selling at farmer’s markets and get the CSA season underway, not to mention provide the farm crew with some fresh veggies. I am thankful for all of that, but I have to be honest: greens stress me out a little bit. Perhaps my anxiety stems from the fact that natural processes are working against the goal of delivering ideal greens to market. First of all, you have to harvest lettuce, arugula, etc. before it bolts (bolting, i.e., flowering lettuce tastes bitter and arugula gets too spicy when it is bolting, no good for selling or eating). Then, after harvesting the greens the trick is to wash them all and pack them before they start to wilt in the heat. Do not leave a head of fresh lettuce in the sun, or it will melt faster than a marshmallow in the middle of a bonfire. I would feel much better if I could just place a freshly harvested head of lettuce into each CSA and market customer’s hands immediately after harvest. Barring this extreme fantasy of mine becoming a reality, the next best solution is good handling practices after harvest.  We store greens in a cool place out of the sun and try to keep them sprayed with water for best results. Also, there are some things that you can do once you get your greens home to keep them looking and tasting their best.

Here are some tips on storage for freshness (be sure to share these with your friends so they do not turn green with envy):

1- For greens like chard and kale that have thick stems, clip about 2 inches off the bottom of the stems and place in a glass or vase of water. This may remind you of the procedure for keeping cut flowers fresh longer, similar idea.

2-Lettuce- place fresh lettuce in a plastic produce or grocery bag before placing in the refrigerator. This will help keep the leaves crisp and prevent them from wilting.

3- I find that an easy rescue for older greens that may have passed their prime as raw salad fare is to throw them in a quick omelet. For instance, saute a large handful of destemmed kale, chard, spinach etc. in olive oil just enough to soften the leaves. Whisk 3 eggs in a small bowl and then add to the greens. Sprinkle with fresh rosemary or parsley and season with sea salt and black pepper to taste. Flip omelet after about 5 minutes on medium heat or when the sides have firmed up enough to slide a spatula clean underneath. Cook a few more minutes and enjoy!

4- Try to eat your greens as soon as possible after buying, after all that is why you are buying fresh greens in the first place: to enjoy them in their prime!!!

-Farmer Leda

The time has come by Leda
June 8, 2010, 8:46 pm
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Yesterday has been a long time coming. Stephanie, Matt, and I have been waiting for that day for 2 months and 5 days.  Andrew and Logan have been working for that day since last October or November.

Yesterday was the first day of our CSA (community supported agriculture) pick up and it was most excellent. It sure felt good to be harvesting and packing up boxes with lush green lettuce, spicy  arugula, brilliant red radishes, tasty little salad turnips, and crisp yellow onions. We were all hoping these vegetables that we had worked so hard to produce were well received. As the first few members drove up to the farm we all felt like proud parents brimming with nervous excitement.

We have come a long way from the beginning of April when onions and garlic were the only cash crops to be seen. The other 9 acres of the farm were blanketed by oats, vetch, (our winter cover crops) and untended swatches of weeds.

Now, upon entering the farm one is met with rows of green arugula, salad turnips, mustard greens, and quickly maturing strawberry plants. Further down into the fields from the greenhouse the cucumbers and melons are growing vigorously along with healthy looking tomato and pepper transplants.  Everywhere you look it seems that some young plant is thriving. I think that yesterday just stoked our enthusiasm and optimism that the season will only become more bountiful.

-Farmer Leda