Friday, September 9, 2011

Shell Beans and Aromatherapy!

Greetings all, and welcome to the final month of the Parker Produce CSA 2011 season! We're nearing the finish line as we like to say around here. I'm sorry for the late blog but I tried to upload a video about our shell beans and it wasn't working. I just tried it again and looked at the video and it turns out it's good that I couldn't upload it this afternoon. Everything is blurry so the close-ups aren't much use. We may try again if I get time but until then, here is a shot of the Vermont Cranberry Shell Beans in your share.

As you probably notice, they aren't much to look at when you view the pods. However, take a look at the beans inside and you'll see a very, very pretty bean. Shell Beans are best slow cooked in simmering water for a good hour. Then you can use the cooking water for a light gravy and add some butter and salt and pepper. These are delicious! Here is a link to a conversation I found when performing a quick google search for shell beans. And here is a link for a recipe using Shell Beans and heirloom tomatoes. This just gives you a bit of an idea about how to use two items in your share this week. We pulled about 92 lbs of heirlooms out of the garden today (not counting the cherry tomatoes) so you received an assortment!
This also gives me a chance to talk about the change in attitude when harvesting as frost approaches. I've been able to be picky this summer (pun intended I guess) and left several tomatoes on the vine to ripen fully. However, as frost approaches, I am less and less picky. As you can see in the photo below, the tomato on the left is green. It fell when I was walking by. The middle tomato is just starting to blush red. The one on the right is fully ripe. I have started picking tomatoes that have only started to blush. Average first frost date is September 15th in Newport. So at anytime we could get hit with frost. The hoop house can mitigate some of that but not a heavy frost. I would rather you have a tomato that has to sit on your window sill for a couple days to ripen than for me to have a hoop house full of black, mushy tomatoes that got frosted. The same is true of other items like basil and cucumbers. It won't be long before we're switching gears from summer to fall crops anyway.

Several of our herbs were ready in the garden today so you'll notice quite a range of wonderful smells from the share this week. Below is Forest Green Italian Parsley. Parsley is very, very good for you.

I've included another round of Common Sage. This herb has such a wonderful smell. However, I can imaging it might be too much for some folks so be careful when you open all the share bags this week.

Finally, Oregano! I've never had luck getting this to germinate but this season I had a good charge of seedlings to put into the herb garden. So here it is. Oregano is one of those herbs that is great to dry. We use butcher's twine and simply bunch what looks good and hang it from a nail or any old thing, out of direct sunlight but where there is good air movement. The same is true for sage. Then you have locally produced, beyond organic herbs this winter when you're in the kitchen preparing dinner.

You'll also find a good bunch of basil, zucchini/summer squash, more tasty jade cucumbers, lemon cucumbers, another bunch of carrots, chard, and kale. This week's share is very heavy so please be careful.

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