Farm share season is here! If you’re a Three Maples CSA member (or if you’re thinking of joining), you should take a look at our member guide — it has important information about your reusable CSA bags and what to do if you’re going on vacation and answers some other frequently asked questions. Of course, you can always contact us if you have questions! Click here to access the member guide for 2016.
When most people think of summer vegetables, the first thing that comes to mind is tomatoes, or maybe summer squash. For us, it’s green beans. They’re one of the first true summer crops to come to harvest, and as the days grow longer — both daylight-wise and work-wise — we find ourselves craving the sweet, satisfying crunch of a snap bean fresh off the plant. It’s always a banner day when we stand at the edge of the bed and pick those first few beans to snack on.
We grow bush beans, which are far more productive than their taller cousin the pole bean, but also considerably more labor intensive to pick. Long rows of big, healthy plants are a thrill, but by the time we’re done with the first harvest of the season our enthusiasm for the humble snap bean has been dampened somewhat by the ache in our backs. After that first harvest they need to be picked every two days without fail, or the beans start getting overgrown and tough and the plants stop producing. Before long our backs begin to adjust and we fall back into the rhythm of the harvest, letting our minds wander while our hands and eyes do the familiar work of spotting green beans among green leaves, the long row of summer stretching out before us.
Well, our pleas for rain were answered — and then some. Although we still haven’t made up for the whole deficit, June was a very wet month. Weather data indicates that we received between eight and ten inches of rain, which is 4-6″ over the average.
Now that our water tables have replenished themselves somewhat, we’re ready for a little more balance. Here’s to a July full of warm sunny days and gentle, soaking, night-time rains. If you need us, we’ll be inside toweling off!
Did you know that carrot greens are not just edible, but delicious?
They’re not commonly sold in grocery stores, so this once-popular pottage herb (that is an herb regularly used in mushy soups commonly eaten in poor households) has fallen sadly out of favor. In fact, there’s an awful rumor going around that they’re toxic. Perhaps that’s because in large quantity Queen Ann’s Lace (that’s wild carrot) or carrot tops can be used as a clothing dye (which are often, although not always, caustic) or can be made into a tea that was once used to treat kidney issues.
In any case they are edible and should be put to good use. And since you have parsley and bunched carrots in this week’s share, this pesto seems perfect. We love pestos around here. Add less oil to make a tapanade, a moderate amount for a sandwich spread or for tossing pasta or sauteed squash in, and a bit more to get a thinner option for a dipping sauce or salad dressing. To get the best flavor, discard the stem below where the leaves start.
Carrot Greens, Parsley & Hazelnut Pesto
¾ cup hazelnuts (or mixture of hazelnuts, almonds and walnuts)
1/8 cup carrot leaves
chopped 1/8 cup parsley
chopped 1 clove garlic
juice of 1 lemon
¼-1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
½ cup fresh-grated parmesan cheese & generous pinch of sea salt.
Toast the nuts at 325ºF for a few minutes to bring out the flavor. In a food processor, puree the nuts, carrot leaves, parsley leaves, lemon juice and garlic.
Pour in cheese, salt, and olive oil, starting with ¼ cup. Blend, and increase olive oil if the pesto is too thick. Cook pasta (450g) until al dente, drain and toss with pesto while still hot.
(Excellent with a few handfuls of cooked pole beans thrown in as you toss with the pesto.)
Carrots, we’ve found, are one of the vegetables with the most pronounced difference between a fresh, local, naturally grown product and the stuff you’d pick up at a grocery store. Our carrots are tender and sweet and fantastic raw as part of a salad or slaw. Carrots are a very good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K and Potassium.
Harvest period: Early summer through fall.
Prep: Bunched carrots are dug and sprayed off before being refrigerated. As always, we recommend thorough washing before you prepare/eat your vegetables. Wrap or bag roots to prevent moisture loss. The sooner you eat them, the sweeter they’ll be!
Recipes: Dip them in hummus, add them to slaw or salad, or try them pickled, grilled, roasted or braised with one of these recipes from The Kitchn.
Cabbage: it’s good for more than just coleslaw and kraut. Although especially with Hosta Hill as our neighbors in West Stockbridge, we’re a little spoiled when it comes to quality sauerkraut. But even their delicious fermented cabbage is only one of many ways to enjoy this humble vegetable.
Harvest season: Throughout summer and fall.
Prep: Cabbages are stripped of most of their outer leaves at harvest, then rinsed and refrigerated. Store them in the fridge and wash before preparing.
Recipes: Check out the kitchn’s list of 10. The two that left us particularly hungry are the peanut carrot cabbage slaw and the grilled cabbage wedges.
Garlic scapes are the bonus of growing hardneck garlic. They’re the crazy twirly flower stem of the garlic plant. We want the plant to put all its energy into producing big, beautiful cloves of garlic, and a flower would just be a drain on that energy, so instead we cut it off before it blooms and enjoy its mellow garlic flavor.
Harvest period: Briefly in early summer.
Prep: Refrigerate and rinse before using. Most recipes will tell you to cut off the blossom.
Recipes: Pickle them, turn them into pesto, use them wherever you’d use garlic — or use them to infuse vinegar for dressings and marinades. Here are some great ideas for garlic scapes from Every Food Fits.
Snow peas are a great source of phytonutrients, but once you try one you won’t need that to convince you to eat them. Snow peas are flat and less sweet than snap peas — you might recognize them from your Chinese take-out. They were bred for their delicate, crunchy and delicious pods.
Harvest Period: Early summer.
Prep: Snow peas are picked and promptly refrigerated. Store them in their bags in the crisper. Wash before eating and remove stem ends and any wayward blossoms.
Recipes: If you manage to keep yourself from eating them right out of the bag, you might want to try adding them to a salad or stir-frying them — or try one of these recipes from startcooking.com.
Pea shoots are sweet, tender, and (like most young greens) packed with nutrients.
Harvest Period: Spring and early Summer.
Prep: Pea shoots are triple-washed and spun dry. Refrigerate them in a closed plastic bag and wash before using. If you’re adding them to a salad, you may want to pull of the leaves and put the stems in the compost — your choice.
This week’s share includes some delicious braising greens, or stir fry greens. They’re still tender enough to be a non-lettuce salad (although I cut mine and pair them with a crumbled cheese to balance the flavor), but Amanda prefers to use them for a stir fry.
The most delicious part of these greens? The holes! I’ve been known to tell kids that the holes make the flavor better — like swiss cheese. Truthfully, the holes are part of our growing method, since as much as we like arugula and other mustard-type greens, there’s a type of beetle called a flea beetle that likes them more. Of no relation to fleas, and feeding only on greens, these beetles are also tiny black dots that jump away if you try and touch them.
Every farm that has greens has flea beetles- the question is how they deal with them. In the early Spring and the later Autumn, we can cover the beds with remay- kind of like a huge woven polyester bedsheet- and that keeps the beetles out while keeping the plants a few degrees warmer. During the Summer that’s not an option, so we can either spray an organic-approved chrysanthemum extract, which is totally people-safe but can hurt the good bugs as well as the pests, or we can tolerate them. So far we have been able to tolerate them, and they haven’t threatened a crop. All they do is eat a little bit of each leaf, leaving delicious, clean holes to hold all the extra flavor.