I get emails every so often asking how to use up the produce that comes without wasting. For some folks, this is not a problem while others face a challenge. Let me take a moment this week to tell you what we do with our CSA share.
The first thing that I do is (carefully!) take the produce out of the box. As you know, we re-use these boxes to keep costs down and to minimize waste. I put the produce in a clean bag (remember to wash your bag regularly!). Now it’s ready for the ride home. Try to plan your day so that you get your produce and bring it home right away. Letting your produce sit in the sun inside your hot car is no good. For me, it goes right in the fridge.
At the farm, I take the produce out of the bag and look it over. I remove any dead leaves that were missed and identify each item. I often list the more unusual things in the newsletter but don’t hesitate to write me if you don’t know what something is. If something is squished (we only send our best but sometimes, you know, it happens), let me know and I’ll gladly replace it next week if I can.
Next, I wash everything (great job for your kids!). This does two things. First, it cools and wets your vegetables. Keeping your produce cool and damp goes a long way to increasing its shelf life. In fact, post harvest washing and packing on the farm is one of the most important things that we do. Our Food Safety plan, for example, forces us to document each time we wash or pack your produce. This helps us do it right each and every time. Second, washing gives your vegetables yet another cleaning. We work really hard on the farm to send out the cleanest produce but sometimes – especially in this rainy and muddy year – we miss a few things. Keep tomatoes, onions, and winter squash at room temperature.
Now, I make the plan. Christina does most (all) of the cooking around here and she is a creative chef so this is not a problem for us. Try to use some of your (very, very fresh) share tonight. Then, plan out the week. How will you use the carrots? If you don’t have an idea right away, let your mind stew on it for a few hours. And remember, the Local Thyme recipe service is free to all of our CSA members (see details below if you haven’t signed up yet). Local Thyme offers not only recipes but storage tips, a shopping list generator, and cooking support too.
Finally, by the end of the week, plan to store the leftover items so there’s no waste. My go-to storage plan is to freeze things. Frozen greens, for example, taste incredible over the winter worked into pasta sauce. Freezing is pretty quick and definitely easy. For more great ideas, check out “Tips for using your whole box” under the “Week’s Plan” tab on Local Thyme.
I hope these tips help you make the most of your CSA. The whole farm crew hopes that you enjoy your share this week.