Farm Notes: Preserving the Harvest

I had an interesting conversation this week with a U-Pick CSA member about food preservation. I thought now might be a good time to pass on some of the pointers I have gathered from the collective wisdom. 

1. Put your veggies in cold water as quick as you can. A cold bath will shock your vegetables into extending their shelf life up to a week. This is particularly true of greens like kale, chard or lettuce. The sooner you can get them in to water the better, and if you can let them soak for a few minutes that is even better still. Vegetables wilt in your fridge because they are losing moisture, so the best way to preserve them once they have had their cold-water bath is to cover them with a damp paper towel in the fridge. There are some exceptions to the bath rule though- things like onions and tomatoes do not need to be soaked. 

Erika hydro-cooling radishes immediately after harvesting them, soaking and spraying them off in a tub of cold water.

2. Quick pickling is quick. In the coming weeks we will (hopefully) see cherry tomatoes, string beans, turnips, okra, cucumbers and a few other goodies that would all make delicious quick (or slow) pickles either just by themselves or with some of the herbs from the farm too. Here is an interesting recipe for dill pickles that you could adapt for kohlrabi or anything else kicking around your fridge.

3. Try a pesto! There are a million recipes out there for this simple and delicious condiment, here is one that I like. Many recipes call for pine nuts but I use good ol' cheaper walnuts, and sometimes no nuts at all. Pestos are yummy on pastas hot and cold, but they are also great on egg sandwiches, as a dip unto itself, or instead of tomato sauce on a pizza. Get creative. Pesto will stay good in your refrigerator for a few weeks or freeze some jars for winter. 

4. Let's face it- we all start out with the best of intentions for preserving our bounty. I can't tell you how many pickles, kimchis, pestos, shrubs, kvasses and kombuchas I have planned to make only to get distracted and miss my chance. Last year I bit the bullet and invested $50 in a vacuum sealer that allows me to freeze everything from cherry tomatoes to kale, quickly and easily, without risking frostbite. Even if you are not at the point of investing in one of these nifty and mesmerizing gadgets (oh that air tight seal, so satisfying!) you can still freeze things in ziplock bags and try push all the air out before sealing. People recommend blanching greens before sealing them but sometimes I don't even bother (don't tell anyone).

More tips to share? Email me and I will pass them on! 

- Erika Brenner, Assistant Farmer
U-Pick CSA Newsletter, Week #4

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