Sunday, August 16, 2015

CSA pro-tips

I start this post with an apology.  When the CSA season began and I started blogging again, I vowed to post weeky.  Life keeps happening.  My husband and I have thrown ourselves into a new hobby, and I have been making dresses for myself.  Meanwhile, I have a small stockpile of new recipes waiting to be blogged.   That being said, off we go with a couple tips that I have learned that will make having a CSA less daunting.

CSA Tips:
I would in no way call myself a "pro" when it comes to this veggie thing, I'm still coming across new foods and researching new ways of cooking.  I have, through trial and error, learned a few things over the last 3 years that I wish someone had emparted to me.
1.  Picking CSA pick-up date: When you get your CSA contract, like my local CSA, they may give you options of pick up days or times.  Choose a day and time that allows you to have time to process through your veggies.  I dont work, when I chose my day/time the first year, I didnt give it much thought.  I use to pick it up on a Friday at 5pm.  This worked for me the first year; my husband could walk to work and got paid on a Wednesday.  I would go grocery shopping on a Wednesday or Thursday but since I didnt know what was in my CSA, I often had to grocery shop again to plan around the vegetables I recieved.  This year I gave it more forthought.  My husband now works Monday through Friday, gets paid on a Friday, I grocery shop pay days.  I chose a Wednesday CSA pick up day this season so I could have my vegetables before I went grocery shopping.
2.  Do some recon:  If your CSA is anything like mine, you may not know ahead of time what you are getting in your CSA each week.  It helps if you can check to see what your CSA posted the same week last year.  I have friends on my facebook who are part of a CSA in a different area in my state, they often post what they recieved.  Check the Farmers Almanac when all else fails, it usually predicts what vegetables will come into season certain weeks.
3.  Be prepared:  Before going to pick up your CSA, make sure you have everything you need or everything ready for when you come home.  This means different things depending on how you work in the kitchen.  Before I leave the house I make sure the kitchen is clean and dishes wash, especialy those I know I will need like my food processor, salad spinner or mandalin.  If you compost, make sure your bin is empty.  I usually put a large pot of water on the stove (not turned on!) in preparation of blanching anything I know I want to freeze.  I also make sure Im stocked on things like olive oil, vinegar and freezer bags.
4.  Know you veggies:  As I said, I wouldnt call myself a "pro" because there are still some veggies I dont know.  Before you leave your CSA pick up, review your vegetables to make sure you can identify everything.  Dont be afraid to ask!  If you dont recognize something, generally, the people running the CSA know what it is.  When in doubt ask facebook or do a Google image search.
5.  Look for recipes or ideas:  Once you know what you have, take some time to look for recipes.  There are times when you get beets three weeks in a row.  Check out some new ways to cook things.  Im constantly surprised with new combinations I have never thought of before.  Carrot greens and swiss quiche, dill turkey burgers, Google can open a whole new avenue of tastes.
6.   Set aside time: This kind of goes with the tip of chosing a day and time that fits your schedule.  Once you get home with your CSA set aside time to do all the prep and processing right away, this will save you time later.  See if you have anything leftover from the week before; if its still good freeze it, make pesto, if its gone bad, compost it.  Once you've gotten rid of the old, start dealing with the new.  Remove butts and wash greens right away, putting them in labeled bags in the crisper so they are ready to go for salads.  Remove herbs from stems and either make pesto or put them in a zip bag in the fridge or even set them up for drying (in dehydrator or a baking sheet on lowest heat in oven).  Wash, blanch and freeze whatever greens you dont think you will use right away.   If you have extra carrots or zucchini, grate it and freeze it for bread or muffins in the winter.

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