The cucumber (AKA "cuke") is a member of the Cucurbit family (same as squash and melons), and originated in India, though now it is widespread and the forth most cultivated vegetable. It has been grown for at least 3,000 years, and was brought to North America as early as the mid 1500's. It has, throughout history, been thought to be both a cure for various ills (in Pliny the Elder's writings), and a cause of death to humans and only fit for livestock to eat. It grows on a vine, which will spread all through your garden and fields, but can be trained to grow up a trellis, which we are doing for our second planting. Cukes rely heavily on bees for pollination, even more so than many crops. In addition to being a cooling, hydrating summer treat, the cucumber's skin is full of fiber and the entire vegetable is full of vitamins and antioxidants. For even more health benefits of this incredible vegetable, click here.
Back to farm news, we've harvested all of our garlic! We're talking thousands of garlic heads here (though many will be saved for next year's seed), so that's pretty exciting! Right now, its all curing in our greenhouse, which we've covered with shadecloth to keep it from getting to hot. Soon, we'll be harvesting the rest of our potatoes. And speaking of potatoes, you'll be trying a new variety this week: yukon golds. Yum! Other than harvesting, marketing, mowing, mulching, trellising, planting, hoeing out weeds, and taking care of the bees, we've had a lot of free time...just kidding! Luckily, we love what we do.
This week, we know that we’ll have lettuce, green onions, and a cooking green for you, plus plenty of other goodies. Below are some specifics about other items you might find in your boxes (note: this week, we’re not sure that there will be enough of each item for everybody, but everyone will get an equivalent veggie or herb).
Carrots: Spring carrots aren't quite as sweet as fall carrots after a frost, but they're still a delicious treat that many farms don't offer! Enjoy them uncooked or use them for a soup base.
Fresh Garlic: Use as you would use regular (cured) garlic. Separate into individual cloves and discard the papery skins before using. For storage, keep in the fridge in the short-term or hang to dry at room temperature in a spot with good airflow for later use.
Green Onions or Bulbing Onions: We're probably going to give y'all our first bulbing onions, either white or red. Store these in the crisper drawer in your fridge until you use them since they may not be fully cured yet. Use as you would a regular store-bought onion!Potatoes: Yukon Golds! These are known to be great tasting with a creamy texture, though you can use them as you would any other potato. Use within a week or two, keeping them in a dark place at room temperature (you can keep them in the fridge if you want to).
Baby Beets: We're gettin' to the last of them! We'd have more big beets, but deer got in and ate one of our rows about a month ago. They're known to have antioxidant properties and be good for your cardiovascular health. Pickle 'em, roast 'em, or grate 'em raw for salads. Don't forget to eat the greens!
Cucumbers: You'll either receive dark green Marketmoore cukes or the Indian "Poona Kheera" cukes. A note about the latter: these short fruits are unique because they will be anywhere from small and almost white to fat and brown like a russett potato. They're crisp and delicious at any stage, skin and all. Use in salads, as crunchy snacks, in cool soups, in pickles, etc.
Green Beans: These stringless snap beans are a variety that we love called "Provider". For a new flavor, try them raw alone or with a dip. For a simple side dish, steam or boil them. Our favorite: pickle them with dill as you would your cucumbers.
Summer Squash: We have two varieties...Sunburst Patty Pan, which looks kind of like a flying saucer, and Zephyr, which is longer and half-green. Both are delicious! Get creative with recipes, but when in doubt, stir fry it!
You will receive a bunch of one of the following cooking greens this week:Swiss Chard: This beautiful green is related to the beet but doesn't have a "beety" flavor. Delicious when sauteed with garlic and oil, or along with whatever else you're cooking.
Kale: We have both “Red Russian” and “Lacinado/Dino” varieties, both of which we prefer to the more common curly kale. These nutritional powerhouses can be cooked in soups and stirfries, made into “kale chips” in the oven, or sliced thinly and eaten raw.
Collards/Broccoli Greens: These delicious greens get a bad rap from some people due to the common way of boiling them and serving them with vinegar, but really, collards are extremely similar to Kale and be cooked and enjoyed in many of the same ways. Try blanching whole leaves briefly with a bit of steam to soften them and then use them as a low-carb sandwich wrap.
You will most likely get only one of the following herbs this week:
Dill: You can use the flowers, seeds, stems, etc. as well as the thin leaves. Much of the dill is "going to seed" right now, so don't be put off if it looks like you're getting a bouquet instead a bunch of the dill that you're familiar with. It's not only great for pickles though...try making tzatziki sauce with plain yogurt or chopping it up in your salad for a fresh taste. Be creative!
Cilantro: This common herb is often used in Latin American cuisine. Try adding it to salsa for a fresh taste!
Sage: Delicious and fragrant herb goes well with meats and potatoes. If you don’t get to use it, hang it up to dry for later use. Dried sage also makes great incense and is reputed to have medicinal benefits as well.Oregano: Aromatic herb that dries very well. It adds an excellent flavor to pizza and Italian dishes. Pairs very well with tomatoes!
French Tarragon: Culinary herb known for highlighting meat dishes. Mix with softened butter for a flavorful spread or make a tasty herb vinegar by soaking the fresh or dried leaves in your choice of vinegar. Some people prefer the stronger flavor of the dried leaves.