Friday, July 16, 2010

July 16 - Snap Beans!!!

Ok, so I was only off by one week on the whole beans are usually before zucchini thing. They're here! In your share this week you'll find the first installment of snap beans. There are three types in the bag. On the bottom, the larger green ones are Provider. They're called that for a reason. They are the Sugar Snap of the Bean world. Once they get going it's very hard to keep up with their production. The smaller green ones are Maxibel. This is the first year I've grown them and I like them a lot. I'm interested to know what people think. Finally, the yellow beans at the top of the bag are Golden Butterwax. Very tender, these beans hold their texture and flavor even after being stored in a chest freezer all winter. We just finished ours from last summer and they were still great!
Snap beans are wonderful both raw and cooked. We eat them in the garden as we harvest them...quality control. One of the best ways I've had beans cooked is lightly sauteed in butter or olive oil with a bit of garlic (perfect use for the scapes if you still have some) and rosemary. This is something Emily makes at our house and it is very, very good!

We're getting to that part of the season when it's difficult to put greens and salad mix ingredients in the bag. There is a window of about a month and a half when it's just plain too hot for these cool weather crops. We're in that window now. In the fall I get another few plantings in and this type of plant thrives. I try to include some sort of salad base throughout the summer and during this period it just means a bit more work for our CSA members. Below is a series of photos showing what you might find in your Red Salad Bowl Lettuce. On the left is a perfect specimen, nothing wrong. In the middle is a leaf that has gone by. It's nearly translucent when held up to a window or light, shows brown around the edges and is very flimsy or even slimy. On the right is several leaves still attached to the stem. Due to the way lettuce grows and how it reacts during the heat of summer, you may find either one, or both, of these things in your bag each week. I recommend you take the lettuce out when you arrive home with your share, dump it into a clean sink, colander or even on the counter and then pick through it quickly looking for these things. If a leaf like the one in the middle is in there it tends to ruin the rest of the leaves more quickly. Just remove it from the batch. The example on the right doesn't present that problem and you can either remove the leaves while you're picking through or just do it as you use them. Pull the leaves off the stem, compost the stem and put the leaves back in the bag in the fridge. Easy as that!

Here is a close-up of the bad leaf. See how the red color is completely different from that of the healthy leaf at the left.
Also in this week's share is another cutting of basil, both Napolatano (the large frilly leaf) and Genovese (the smooth, glossy leaf). I've included a couple of photos below showing how to store it if you don't use it right away when you get home. It turns out that the easiest method for bagging basil also lends itself well to storage of the herb. As you can see in the photo below, all the stems are together in the bag and at relatively the same place. I do this on purpose.

When you get home, take the bag out of the reusable bag, remove the twist-tie, reach in and twist the basil so the leaves are still in the bag but the stems are out. Hold the stems together and cut the smallest brown portion off the bottom of the stems. Immediately put the stems in a glass of water on your window sill or counter. Leave the plastic bag on the leaves as this keeps the leaves from wilting, thus making them last a bit longer. We actually just had some root which I've never seen before with basil. It must be the high heat and humidity.
The other things in the share are all standard and have been there before, with the exception of the French Breakfast Radish. Some have received these before in our Winter Club and are familiar with them. If not, it's the red radish with the white bottom. French Breakfast is just the name and while it probably had some significance at some point, there is not indication that anyone can seem to find (historically) that these were a breakfast food in France. They are good enough to be but there you have it. Treat them like any other radish and enjoy!
You also have Sugar Snap Peas (probably the last of them unless I get another crop in) and Shell Peas. If anyone has any questions about anything in the share, please let me know. I'll see some of you at the farm tomorrow for our first annual Parker Produce CSA Picnic! If not, have a great weekend.

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