In Your Share This Week
- Beets, mix
- Cabbage, red
- Chicory Mix
- Onions, Red Bull & Cortland
- Turnips, Gilfeather
- Winter Squash, Baby Blue Hubbard & Thelma Sanders
Our past sunny summer of record high daytime temperatures and the warmest nighttime “lows” on record seem like years ago already. The rains since November have been relentless. Just to put amounts into perspective, the average total annual rainfall for Portland is 35.98 inches. Up to this morning, on the farm, in the last two and a half months we measured 41.125 inches of rain.
Chicory, mix: Its hard to believe, we are already taking action to get the 2016 CSA underway. We would like our greenhouse to be available for an early beet sowing…so we need to harvest all of the delicious greens that have been in there over the winter. We have a nice assortment of chicories and instead of choosing just one, we thought…hey, why not have them all? This blend could be eaten either raw or cooked and includes escarole, two types of frisee, and a frilly ‘bunching chicory’ type. I think it will store quite well in the bag, so it should last for at least a week or two without any problem. We are really proud of how vibrant and festive this mix looks and tastes!
Vegetable Identification: We realize that this week’s share features Gilfeather Turnips and Watermelon Radishes, which can appear very similar on the outside. To help make sure you can identify them, we packed them in opposite corners of the box, and have this photo to help. The radishes can have pink skins, but they are also white and green, just like the turnips. Even local chefs have had vegetable identification mishaps!
Radish: We are also pleased to feature the Misato Rose watermelon radish from Wild Garden Seed. The crisp, juicy texture and festive color are a welcome treat in the winter root lineup. These are actually bred to be a ‘storage radish’, which has worked fantastically well. They are grown in the late summer and harvested in the fall. We kept them in a refrigerated storage facility for the past few months, and behold- they are still as gorgeous and delicious as the day we harvested them! Plants are amazing!
Turnips,Gilfeather: Some of the skins are rather smooth, while others exhibit a rough brown texture on parts of the root. If you find that to be the case, just peel that portion and add it to the stock pot. The flesh is mild and delicious, and pairs well with potatoes mashed and in hashes. We obtained our seed from local favorites Wild Garden Seed, who say it best on their website: ”A Vermont heirloom root crop with a long story as well as a long history. John Gilfeather first began selling his farm-original rutabaga, calling it a ‘turnip’ (as rutabagas are often called in Vermont) in the late 1800’s, jealously protecting his propriety by careful trimming of the tops and roots to prevent “unauthorized reproduction” of his genetic treasure. Some seeds did however eventually escape and were commercialized by a market farming couple unrelated to the Gilfeather family. The name was thereafter protected by a registered trademark until 1995, when the trademark was allowed to lapse. The genetic story is also interesting. The Gilfeather “turnip” is actually an interspecies cross between a rutabaga (Brassica napus) and a true turnip (Brassica rapa). Such crosses are uncommon, but occur at a rate of 1% or less when the plants flower together in close quarters. Mr. Gilfeather’s discovery likely resulted from keeping his own seed on the farm, and paying attention to the ‘off-types’ that can result from doing so.”
Salsify: The seeds for the Fiore Blu Salsify in your share this week were sourced from Italy and seeded the last week of April 2015. And finally, 8 months later, these roots are making their debut! This very special looking root is delicious when quickly sautéed in butter until soft. Or, it is very tasty if used as a base layer in the pan used to roast a chicken or turkey. It should be washed thoroughly before cooking and the little rootlets can either be scraped off with the sharp edge of a pairing knife for a neater presentation or left on and eaten more rustically. This White Salsify (aka Oyster Plant) is not the Scorzonera (aka Black Salsify) that can sometimes be found in specialty market produce departments- it is a much rarer and more elusive treat. If you have a flower garden at home, you can transplant the Salsify roots now and wait for its dainty grassy foliage and the really gorgeous and edible blue aster like flowers it will produce this summer. During a rather indulgent (I mean, scientific) taste test experiment, we verified that cutting the unpeeled roots into rounds and cooking them in a healthy amount of butter along with mushrooms, garlic, and winter savory makes an excellent topping for steak and mashed potatoes. It looks odd, but tastes AMAZING!
Its all about Winter Squash
You know what we are excited about? Winter Squash. I think it is my personal favorite- I like to read about it, grow it, harvest it, store it, look at it, eat it, and talk about it! Winter squash are a very interesting and varied crop with an entire rainbow of colors, shapes, textures, flavors, and storage qualities. In a culinary sense, you can think of winter squash as resembling a good wine- there is a point in time when it has reached its optimal maturation and the peak of flavor occurs, followed be a decline in body and flavor.
SIO has joined a group of local farmers, chefs, and plant breeders in Oregon who are all participating in a project to refine varietal selections in order to develop a palette of squash to extend the typical ‘squash season’ beyond the fall and well into the late winter and early spring. Part of this effort includes outreach, education, and marketing to increase the knowledge and awareness of all things winter squash. The variety, timing, and preparation method really do matter. We took part in a fun squash tasting event where we all created flavor profiles and notes on a huge list of squash varieties served both raw and cooked. You would not believe the array of differences in color, texture, and flavor when you try over 20 squash side by side! If you find this type of thing interesting, make sure to check out Lane Selman’s efforts with the Culinary Breeding Network
Winter Squash, Baby Blue Hubbard: These are a smaller version of the classic Blue Hubbards. The University of New Hampshire developed this miniaturized variety in the 1950’s and they’re definitely a more palatable household size than 15-20# standard hubbards! As a rule of thumb, hubbards are typically not considered ‘ready’ to eat until after Christmas or the New Year- the wait is worth it because that is when the flavor really ripens and you can enjoy the sweet tastiness. These are one of the longest storing squash around- sometimes you will notice the skin turn from an ashy blue-grey to a peach color. That is totally normal and fine, it does not mean the squash is going bad.
Winter Squash, Thelma Sanders: This is a fun little white acorn-type with a delicious creamy texture and nutty flavor. It was maintained by Seed Savers Exchange, who wrote the following: ”This heirloom squash is also known as ‘Thelma Sanders Sweet Potato’ squash”. This particular squash also stores incredibly well. Enjoy!