The newsletter is a little late today. With the heat as it is, we have had to modify our harvest schedule and pick a few crops 3 times this week, instead of two. The cucumbers, zucchinis, and beans all go nuts in the heat. I swear, as soon as we turn our backs they are ready to be harvested again! Today was another epic pickle harvest and sort session. I feel like I live, breathe, sleep, eat, and dream pickling cukes this time of year. We’ll have lots down at the market Thursday through Sunday this week (hint, hint, hint….)
The heat is a wonderful thing overall. The cherry tomatoes were absurdly abundant today, as was the broccoli. You all got some of each. The red toms are still a little shy with their yield, but after this week I bet they’ll be plentiful. I checked the corn the other day. It’s close. We’ll be keeping our eye on it.
While sorting pickles the Monday, I was really struck by the different shapes and sizes of any given vegetable-a veritable spectrum. (Sorting cukes can be a bit mind-numbing and all sorts of crazy thoughts occur.) Sure I’ve noticed this before, but while fishing around for newsletter fodder I thought I’d talk about this. If someone was listening outside the barn door while we were sorting pickles, they’d think us to be horrible judgmental people, especially if they didn’t know what we were talking about! “No, that one is too fat, too curvy, too skinny. The texture is weird, it’s ugly, the coloring is off….”
It is tricky to train new sorters because there are so many little nuances involved in the decision making. Length, girth, color, straightness, texture; and it all seems so relative based on what is on the sorting table in front of us. Yes, we have measuring sticks and some rough guidelines to follow, but I am always amazed by how many “borderline” cukes there are. Even after 10+ years of sorting I still hem and haw. I was imagining creating a flow chart where each question leads to a few more questions. Sorting carrots can be the same way-so many criteria, so many different shapes and sizes of carrots! How does everything in the grocery store look nearly identical? What happens to all of the “imperfect” ones? It is funny how we are trained to expect our fruits and vegetables to all look a certain way. That is one thing I love about CSA. We can challenge your expectations a bit and introduce you to what food really looks like. We are free to choose varieties that are bred for taste, rather than uniform appearance. We can also introduce you to interesting new varieties. Today for instance you will be getting a mix of red and purple potatoes. You will also get to try some different varieties of cucumbers. We hope you enjoy the different shapes and colors that show up in your box every week.
What’s In the Box:
Golden beets or chard
Red slicing tomatoes
Sweet, white onion
Early Chinese garlic
One of the following types of cucumber: large standard slicer, lemon, or small piccolino salad type*
Basil or dill & cilantro
Sorry, I don’t have any particular recipes today. I have to start making my pickles now lest I be up until the wee hours. You can always use the tag cloud on our website for ideas.
THE STANDARD SLICE: Just as the name suggests, it is the good old reliable slicing cuke that we all know and love.
LEMON CUCUMBER: Round and yellow with a hint of melon flavor. No need to peel, just slice and eat.
PICCOLINO: They are not a pickling type, but rather a sweet, tender delicate salad cuke. We eat them by the handful. The skin is thin and the seed cavity small. Yum.
PICKLING CUCUMBERS: You know these all too well by now. They are commonly used to make pickles, but can be enjoyed as a salad cuke. Sometimes the skin is bitter, so do a taste-test before you commit them to a dish.