So you signed up for a farm share or CSA share and now you’re wondering what to do with all those familiar and not-so-familiar greens. No worries! We’re going to figure it out together!
It’s that time of the year again, once a week we get a huge assortment of seasonal vegetables. If it’s your first time getting a farm share, this can be overwhelming. You’ll probably notice some greens or root vegetables that you haven’t seen before. We’ve been on the CSA bandwagon for five years now, and I have a good amount of tricks for how to use up all your veggies every week! Don’t let them sit around and rot in the back of your fridge, read on for all the best ways to use your organic vegetables!
Signing up for a Farm Share
A farm share, also called a CSA, meaning Community Supported Agriculture, is your way of supporting local farmers! By signing up for a CSA you are guaranteeing a set revenue for your farm. You are invested in their yields and hopefully getting to know your local farmer.
We were part of a wonderful farm share in New York and are now members of a farm share in Austin! That means that every week we get a selection of the freshest vegetables, that have been picked that week! Can’t get better than that.
Why We Support Local Food
1. It tastes better! Much, much better! It’s healthy for our bodies to eat seasonally, and choosing local helps ensure we are in sync with our surroundings. Plus, the vegetables are much fresher and have more nutrients in tact than what we can get at a grocery store.
2. Local farms help to preserve genetic diversity of foods. Large farms tend to choose varieties based on their ability to be machine harvested, shipped without bruising, and longer shelf life. We had never tried so many different types of greens until we joined a farm share.
3. Local food supports local farms and their families! This helps to build community and preserves open spaces as farmland.
4. Local food supports the environment. A farm that uses cover crops to prevent erosion, also replace nutrients in the soil and helps to capture carbon! Not to mention all the emissions we prevent by not purchasing food that has been shipped half way around the world!
But…this also means that we don’t get to choose what vegetables we get. This is where a farm share membership becomes tricky. Fear not, after figuring out this farm share business for the last few years, there is a method to the madness. Here’s what to do:
1- Survey Your Goods and Make a Plan
Figure out, what vegetables need to be eaten first, and which ones can wait for later in the week. Leafy greens and other time sensitive veggies first. But even among those, there is a hierarchy.
For example, if you get radishes or turnips with greens attached, those greens need to be eaten first! The bulbs can stay in the fridge for later in the week. Lettuce, arugula, and spinach will keep for a week, but the sooner you eat them the better. Kale and collards are more hardy and can wait for later in the week!
If you get root vegetables, those keep for a while. Hardy veg like the butternut squash will last for weeks, even months and don’t need to be refridgerated.
2- Prepare your Least Favorite Veggie First
Inevitably, you will get some vegetables that aren’t your favorite. When that happens, use it up that very first day. Don’t even let it enter the fridge! Just take care of it. Because every day that passes you are less likely to make it.
Then what was a perfectly good, fresh radish becomes a wilted mushy mess in the back of your fridge, that you feel bad about and don’t want to toss. Until it’s several weeks later and you end up tossing it anyway. (Ask me how I know)!
There is always some way to use a vegetable you don’t like: blend it up into a soup where you can’t taste it, try a new recipe that you’ve never had before, or chop it up to be pickled. If you still can’t handle it, give it away to a neighbor while it’s still fresh!
3- Use Your Freezer
Because you are getting vegetables during the season when they are picked, there will be some weeks you get way too much of one specific type.
Let’s say you will be going away on vacation and you don’t have time to use up everything you got. You always have the option of giving it away, but if not, it’s time to use your freezer for storage.
You can freeze lots of things; fresh broccoli isn’t one of them.
Fresh herbs: wash, dry, freeze.
Fresh fruit: wash, cut for smoothie convenience, freeze.
Other veggies, like the broccoli I mentioned above need to be cooked (blanched) before freezing. For me that means I put it on the menu for roasting and eating instead.
Here is a list of how to freeze most vegetables.
4- Garlic and Salt are your best friends
Use your know how of Google, or Pinterest to find some recipes. If all else fails: olive oil, salt and garlic. You can not go wrong.
Greens can always be sautéed with butter and garlic. Basically every and any vegetable can be roasted in the oven with olive oil, salt and garlic.
Worst case, you let a veggie get too soft and you don’t want to throw it away, stick it in a pot with broth for a warm soup. And, you guessed it, add some salt and garlic!
Another way to keep your vegetables is through fermentation! It’s an easy fix to too many fresh veggies and especially for rescuing those you don’t love. *cough* Turnip *cough*.
The basic formula for lacto-fermented veggies is 1 Tablespoon salt to two cups water. Thankfully, this fits perfectly in a 32 oz mason jar, together with your whole or chopped vegetables! You are of course free to add other herbs and spices for flavoring, dill, garlic, peppercorns, etc.
- 32 oz mason jar filled with vegetables
- 1 Tablespoon real salt (Himalayan Salt, Celtic Salt or Sea Salt)
- 2 cups water
- Optional: herbs and spices
- Put vegetables in jar and cover with salt and water.
- Shake up to make sure salt dissolves.
- Cover jar. For best practice, leave an inch of space at the top.
- Leave on the counter for several days. If your space is warm, “burp” your jar after 24 hours to release some of the built up pressure.
- Taste after 5+ days. Ferment is ready when it is sufficiently sour to your liking.
- Transfer to fridge, where it can be kept for months.
6- More Tips for Your CSA Share Vegetables
The best way to ensure you eat you CSA share vegetables while they are fresh is to incorporate them into all your meals. A typical day for us would include sautéed greens with breakfast, some type of salad for lunch, and cooked vegetables as a side dish for dinner.
In much the same manner as pickling, canning is also an option. I don’t have personal experience with this, but this looks like a good guide.
A final word: Supporting community agriculture is a wonderful thing! Use it as an excuse to explore new recipes, stretch your tasting palate, and advance your cooking skills! And if all else fails….salt and garlic!
How amazing are those fresh greens for breakfast?!
Have you been a part of a farm share before? What’s your favorite part?
Ready to head out on the road? Check out How to Find Healthy Food While Traveling!