Summer Share 2012: Week 1

This week kicks off the summer season and I’m very excited about the products we have to offer! This email contains what is in this week’s bag, confirms the pickup location and dietary preferences you selected, and has some tips and tricks for getting the most out of your first Fresh Fork Market Farm Buying Club share.

A few quick notes:
A separate email will be coming today to each person about their selected pickup location, its times, etc. You do not need to be at the location at the opening minute. There will be sure to be a line at that time. Also, please take the time to double check the contents of your bag when you get to your car, particularly the vegetarian and vegan customers.

The highlight to this week’s bag is a whole, pasture raised chicken. These birds have spent their entire lives outside on organic green pastures, eating a homegrown non-gmo and chemical free mixture of oats, corn, soybeans, and minerals, and digging for all the bugs, seeds, and grass they can find in the soil. The flavor and nutrient difference is amazing.

These birds came in beautifully as well. They are on the huge side considering a chicken. The average weight is around 6#, which is generally bigger than I want them raised to but the farmers started them early expecting them to grow slowly in what is usually a cool, often wet spring. This year the warm March got them growing very quickly and they came in larger than we planned. Some of the biggest birds may have what we call “green tender.” In short, the tenderloin muscle gets very strong in a bird this big. When it is killed, the tender (along the breastbone behind the breast) has a green hint. It is harmless but just slightly unattractive.

On the produce side, we are very excited to have delicious strawberries and some very healthy greens. This week’s newsletter will help you understand how to get the most out of the greens this week, including red russian kale and collard greens.

For those who love a salad, we have crunch green leaf lettuce from the muck soils of Hartville, Ohio. Add to your lettuce some crunchy radishes and tender pea tendrils, and perhaps top it with some shredded kohlrabi. Other suggestions and recipes will be in the newsletter.

For the vegans, I have a very special treat this week…the first of our hoophouse tomatoes from Middlefield, OH. The farmer started these in December inside a heated hoophouse. This is a good sign…the tomatoes will start coming on strong hopefully by Independence Day, so we can all get some!

Here’s all of this week’s bag contents:

Summer Week 1:

Small CSA Share
1 whole chicken, approx 5 – 6 lbs
1 head kohlrabi
1 bunch collard greens
1 quart strawberries
1 bunch red russian kale
1 bunch garlic scapes
1 head green leaf lettuce
1 bunch radishes
1 quarter lb bag pea tendrils

Large CSA Share Small contents above plus:
2 bunches spinach
1 lb shelled peas
1 head broccoli
1 lb sweet pea and black pepper linguini from Ohio City Pasta

Vegetarian Share
Small contents minus chicken, add:
2 bunches spinach
1 head broccoli
1 container feta cheese (4 oz)
1 lb sweet pea and black pepper linguini from OCP

Vegan Share
Small contents minus chicken,
add vegetarian contents, minus cheese
add: 1 lb rhubarb
2 lbs hoophouse tomatoes

Details about your Account:
Your Preferred Pickup Location:
Your Selected Package Size:
Your Selected Payment Plan:

Your selected dietary preference:

A separate email will be coming out to all persons for each pickup location. To see the full list of pickup locations, days, times, and a map, please visit: http://wp.freshforkmarket.com/1-csa-overview/pick-up-locations/

Getting the Most out of your CSA:
Here are some suggestions for getting the most out of your Fresh Fork Market share.

Tips for Getting the Most out of your CSA
The customer’s who have the best experience tend to have a few things in common:

Double Check your Bag. Think of Fresh Fork as your food ATM. When you go to the ATM you count the money it dispenses. Occasionally the machine makes mistakes. Well occasionally our workers make mistakes. They get in a groove, get distracted, etc, and something gets left out. It is very easy to correct if the omission is caught at the back of the truck. It is difficult to correct the following week.

The items that most commonly get forgotten include cheeses (small) and anything added at the table at the back of the truck, such as the small fruits, peaches, tomatoes, etc. We put those items in last so they don’t get damaged.

Here are some tips for getting the most out of your CSA investment:
1) Focus on your veggies. When you get home from your CSA pickup, take all the contents out of the green bag. Wash and prep your vegetables for the week. This will extend the life of your vegetables and make meal preparation faster.
2) Plan out your week’s meals, starting with the most difficult ingredient or most perishable. For example, kale might be foreign to you. Use that item first.
3) Store your vegetables properly. We’ll provide storage tips each week in the newsletter, such as how to store leafy greens appropriately (some follow here as well).
4) Learn to preserve. Freezing is very easy. Pickling and thermal processing (hot water bath canner) are also easy but slightly more time consuming. Dehydrating is another option. During the winter, you’ll be grateful that you froze that sweet corn and beans, made strawberry jam, or made chicken stock with your chicken bones.

By following some of the suggestions above, you’ll be able to eat healthier and save money on groceries. Your CSA share is worth a lot more than the price if utilized properly. If you ever have questions, please ask them on our Facebook page or via our blog. Our staff and our customers love to share suggestions.

Some Food Storage Tips
In general, the biggest threat to your fruits and vegetables is dehydration. Most home refrigerators are very dry. Try keeping a bowl of water in your refrigerator to add moisture back and adjusting your produce drawers to the most humid setting. Keep vegetables and fruits in plastic bags or containers to maintain the moisture.

Leafy Greens: Leafy greens like spinach, kale, swiss chard, beet tops, mustard greens, lettuce, etc, are the most difficult items to store. First, if they have root crops attached to them (beets, turnips, carrots), cut them from the root. The root will feed off the leaves and wilt them much faster.

Second, wash the greens in cold water. I prefer to give them an ice-water bath. Fill the sink or a large bowl/basin with water, dump ice cubes in, and submerge your greens. Spin dry them or pat them dry with paper towels.

Third, put them in an air-tight plastic bag with a moist paper towel. Wrap the greens in the paper towel to keep them from getting slimy against the side of the bag.

If you greens become weak (wilty or shriveled), revive them in an ice water bath. What has happened is that your refrigerator has dehydrated them.

Root Crops: Potatoes, beets, turnips, radishes, etc are easier to store than leafy greens. The biggest enemy to these items are temperature changes. If a beet has been refrigerated (as ours will be), please keep them refrigerated. Same with potatoes.

Tomatoes: Tomatoes should not be refrigerated. Keep them in a brown paper bag in a cool spot out of direct sunlight. We pack the tomatoes at the back of the truck so that they are not refrigerated on our truck.

Raspberries, Strawberries, and small fruits: Our customers love small fruits. I do too. I really dislike delivering them though! When in season, we go to the farms each morning to get a fresh delivery of small fruits due to them being ultra-perishable.

Because we focus on organic production, raspberries and blackberries tend to be very susceptible to mold. They will mold in just a couple days in the heat of the summer due to the humidity. Strawberries will develop a black mold around the top of the fruit.

There are two ways to extend the life of your small fruits:
1) Refrigerate them ASAP. Eat them quickly. If they get wet, spread them out and dry them gently.
2) Macerate them. Cut them up, toss with sugar and (optional) brandy, and refrigerate in a bowl.

Tree Fruits: Peaches, plums, and pears will be fine at room temperature and will continue to ripen. To slow down the ripening process, simply refrigerate them in a plastic bag (to prevent dehydration).

For apples, they are delivered fully ripened. Refrigerate them in a plastic bag for best storage. Apples like it very cold so keep them in the back of your refrigerator.

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