- Storing Tips
- The Art of Braising
- Pickling Note
- Stocking Some Basics
Keeping our bagged greens fresh: Put your bagged greens in your crisper drawer with the bag slightly open. In the day(s) after harvest, the moisture from our initial washing will leave the bag. As you notice the greens losing this moisture, roll the bag down to seal it and, if very little moisture remains, add a damp paper towel.
Even though we do wash your mixed greens, we still recommend cleaning the leaves again before eating raw. You can choose to do that immediately when you get home or you can wash them in small batches as you need them for salads. Some people like to wash and then store their greens in their salad spinner. If you don’t have a handy salad spinner of your own, you can simply lay the leaves on clean towels to absorb excess moisture from washing. Do not let them completely dry out.
Other greens: Store lettuce and cooking greens in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. Adding a dampened paper towel will help regulate the humidity in the bag. Alternatively, some people rave about washing lettuce leaves in their salad spinner and then storing them in the spinner in the fridge.
Radishes and carrots: Just leaving these in the open air in your fridge will lead to LIMPNESS, so once again turn to the plastic bag method (you can reuse bags specifically for this veggie storing purpose), sealing the bag with a twist.
OR Another method that is easy and encourages more snacking is this: Wash the carrots or radishes (peel carrots if you want to—not necessary), chop to whatever size you like for snacking, and then place in a dish with water and right into the fridge.
Beets: For longer storing, separate the root from the greens and store in separate plastic bags. Beet greens can be treated like chard.
Basil: Store basil at room temperature if you can. If it is a hot day and you have no air conditioning, try this: Adjust your fridge down away from the coldest setting and insulate the bag of basil by wrapping a towel around it. The towel just serves as insulation from getting too cold. The cold will often blacken basil leaves.
I was talking with a customer the other day (!) about what she does with kale and she reminded me of
The Art of Braising.
Season the main ingredient --HOW ABOUT KALE OR THINLY SLICED POTATOES AND CARROTS-- with salt and pepper.
Heat a few tablespoons of oil and/or butter over the stovetop in a heavy pan or whatever fry pan you have handy.
Saute the main ingredient of choice on medium-high heat until the potatoes brown or the kale wilts.
Add cooking liquid (water, stock, wine, juice or some combination) to the half-way point of the main ingredient.
Cover and reduce the heat to a low simmer. Check after a few minutes to see if the liquid has been absorbed and everything is tender.
Braised Vegetables – Apparently the science of braising is the same as meat except that instead of breaking down muscle fiber, “the moist heat breaks down the vegetable's cellulose and expands its starches. The fibers soften giving the vegetables an incredible texture and flavor depending on the cooking liquid you are using.” -www.reluctantgourmet.com This technique is not as useful with chard. Better for kale because there is more tough fibrous stuff to break down. If not this week, you will all have plenty of chances to braise kale.
Throwing raw produce willy nilly into the freezer will result in remarkable textures that you won’t want to eat. So that’s why you should be sure to Blanch First!
First cut or trim vegetables as you would to cook.
Meanwhile, boil a pot of water and prepare a large bowl of cold water.
If you are working with chard, put the de-stemmed leaves in the boiling water for only a few seconds and then transfer to the cold water using a slotted spoon. After cooled, transfer to a container for freezing. Zucchinis and carrots would take a few extra seconds in the pot, but essentially everything can be blanched and frozen. Thank goodness.
First of all, for those fascinated by the manipulation of fresh vetables into condiment, casserole, or otherwise, I Highly recommend Alice Water’s In the Green Kitchen. It is more of a collection of techniques than it is a standard cookbook. Perfect for the CSA subscriber.
In her book, I found this simple approach to refridgerator pickling:
Pickling can extend the life of a vegetable and is appropriate for carrots, cukes, radishes, zucchini, yellow squash, peppers, onions and beets.
She starts with the brine:
1 ½ cup white vinegar
1 ½ cup water
2 ½ T sugar
1 bay leaf
2-3 sprigs of thyme
½ teaspoon coriander seeds
Pinch chili flakes
Bring all of the above to a boil.
Meanwhile, quarter or slice your vegetables (s).
Remove the boiled brine from the stove and cool to room temperature.
Soak the vegetable(s) separately for an hour or so.
Drain and chill.
Serve after chilling or put in a jar in the fridge to keep for weeks!
This method macerates instead of cooks. Other methods involve actually cooking the veggies in the brine for a ashort while.
Items you might want in your kitchen at all times for spontaneous cooking spices:
Coriander (I like these whole)
Mustard seed (whole)
Red pepper (ground)
Crushed red chili pepper
Other: caraway, fennel, allspice, cloves
*To make a curry, either buy a ready-made curry spice mix or combine coriander, cumin, red pepper, and turmeric for a mild curry.
*To grind whole seeds for recipes that require ground, use a mortar and pestle or a hammer and workbench.
For quick cooking and no soak time, try mung beans which are also easy to sprout. Lentils need no soaking. Try all varieties of lentils: red, French, green. The red lentils make a creamy sauce that makes people ask “What is IN this?”
Canned beans, like chickpeas or a mix of beans for soup or salad
Brewers yeast for quick Peasant Dressing
Apple cider vinegar