There’s a colorful variety in the share this week. Radishes have gotten their second wind, and while lettuce is absent for now, there is cabbage for slaw. The first eggplants are in, and in place of all the yellow summer squashes there is more zucchini and magda squash. Rounding out the cast of characters are kohlrabi, kale, green beans, purple bell peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers of both the slicing and pickling varieties, and dill and basil as herbal complements.
The summer is flying by, and it’s already time to start thinking seriously about what foods to put away for fall and winter eating. Freezing and preserving our favorite fruits and vegetables helps bring variety to our winter plates, and also adds value to our CSA share dollars by stretching the summer harvest beyond the 3-4 months of weekly shares. So far, I have frozen kale for soups and stews, and canned 11 jars of Quick Dill Pickles. They are safely squirrelled away in the basement, in these cool plastic tubs that have a door in the side, for easy access. They are kept in the dark to keep the sun from discoloring the pickles.
Blueberries and corn have arrived, and we are taking advantage of the comfortable, pleasant weather to pick as many blueberries as we can. Picking our own berries is a lot less expensive than buying them by the pint, and they keep far longer in the refrigerator, because they are fresher.
There are bags and bags of them in the freezer; frozen blueberries are really versatile, and The Boy likes to eat bowls of them frozen. We will enjoy these for months to come.
Some of the vegetables in this week’s share will keep in the basement refrigerator drawer for weeks, because the conditions are similar to a root cellar. The cabbage and kohlrabi will love it down there for a while, as will carrots and beets when I can get them, either at the Farmers’ Market or in a future share.
Tomatoes have not been overly abundant yet. That is sure to change, and it will be time to can tomatoes, as well as roast Granadero Romas, and make a couple batches of Tomato Jam. This year I will be processing the Tomato Jam for long-term storage, because that was one of the best bites of tomato flavor we ate last winter, and I want to have plenty of it around to last months.
Finally, at long last, we are ready to redo the kitchen, which means no cooking for an extended period. So, in addition to seasonal preserving, I am putting away freezer meals that will be easy to warm up in the microwave and eat.
So far we have quinoa vegetable soup, tomato ground meat sauce for Sloppy Joes, and carnitas (Mexican pulled pork) ready to go. As demolition day approaches, I will keep tucking anything that can be successfully microwaved into the freezer, in the hopes that I will have enough meals to get us through, and we won’t have to rely too often on take out meals. We will keep the refrigerator plugged in, and set up a little prep area in the dining room, where the microwave, coffeemaker, and toaster can hang out and be used daily.
It seems like the “grasshopper days” of summer, when the CSA share was full of vegetables best cooked and eaten as soon as possible, are over as soon as they began. We are now in the “ant days”, when it’s time to start thinking ahead to the months when fresh, local produce is difficult to come by here in New England. It’s time to begin putting aside the foods that keep long term, and will be comforting, colorful, and inspiring during the long, dark, cold, white New England winter.