CSA Newsletter – Week 9 – August 10, 2016

WHAT’S IN THE BOX: Today’s box is brimming with summer goodness. It was challenging to close them!
beets or chard
red onions
an assortment of summer squash
basil, cilantro, or parsley
potatoes-Cal white
green beans
lemon cucumber
standard slicing or amiga cucumber
sungold cherry tomatoes or red slicing tomatoes

This season has been a funny one. I don’t recall ever vacillating between such extremes in weather. Usually we either get the cool, overcast, “non summer” or the insanely hot, no-rain-for-3-months kind of summer. This year we are all over the map. Most crops can roll with the changes pretty well, but some crops are not so resilient. The onions seem to be the worst affected. A disease called downy mildew has  become a problem in these parts. For the past few seasons we’ve had a touch of it near the end of the growing cycle. This year, thanks to week long stretches of warm but rainy weather, the downy mildew did a number on the onion crop. There is one variety that seems to be resistant, but all the others are looking a little rough. The mildew affects the greens, causing them to die back prematurely, thus hampering the bulb formation. Be prepared for a lot of smaller onions (like the ones you got in your box today.) Actually, small onions are kind of nice. I, for one, hate putting half an onion in the fridge to stink it up and make my half and half taste funny. Tomatoes are the other crop that is not enjoying the cooler temps. We planted the same amount as last year and are getting a fraction of the yield. There is a lot of fruit hanging there, it is just slow to ripen. Not all is doom and gloom, though. On my most recent perambulation around the field I saw that the corn is very very close and there is a veritable sea of broccoli that is almost ready. This is precisely why we are a diversified vegetable operation. Some things might not do well, but most will. We don’t want to put all our eggs in one basket. Jim and I were talking about how awful it would be if all we grew was onions!

If veggies are piling up in your fridge, here are a few ideas on how to put them away for future use.
1. Summer Squash: grate and freeze in a freezer bag. That’s it. Easy-peasy. When you want to use it, just break off a chunk, thaw a little, crumble it up and add it to all sorts of savory dishes in the winter.
2. Potatoes: They will last a long time in your fridge in a plastic bag. Soon the potatoes we give out will have more durable skins, so you can put them in a paper bag in a cool place and they will keep for many, many weeks.
3. Green Beans: Blanch and freeze. Drop beans into boiling water and boil for 3 minutes. Imediately plunged beans into ice water until cool-about 5 minutes. Drain in a collendar, arrange a single layer on a cookie sheet with shallow sides and freeze for about an hour. Pour into freezer bags and freeze for later use in soups, curries, casseroles, etc.
4. Herbs: Dry in a low heat oven until crumbly.
5. Beets: Grate and freeze, as with squash.Or you can steam and puree and freeze into 1 cup units (muffin tins work well for this) for future chocolate beet cakes!
6. Make a soup, casserole, or quiche and freeze it. You’ll be so glad you did.