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Storing Fall Vegetables

We like to kick off each Fall CSA season with a refresher on how to store your fall veggies. Apologies to our callused members who have received this info a dozen times already! For our new members, here are a few pro-tips for prioritizing your produce for consumption and storing items that don’t get consumed immediately. The great thing about Cool Season veggies is that they generally store in your fridge or on the counter much longer than wilt-prone summer salad greens or fruitfly-attracting tomatoes and cucumbers.

  • All items except onions, garlic, squash and potatoes are best stored in the fridge in plastic bags if not consumed within a day or so. Too much moisture in the plastic bag can lead to bacterial rot in both roots and greens, so make sure they’re not dripping wet as they go into the fridge.
  •  Not-so-hardy greens such as Spinach, Mustards, Salad mix, and Frisee are generally the most wilt-prone items in your share. They should last up to a week in the the fridge, but we’d still recommend consuming them relatively quickly after pick-up.
  • Hardier braising greens such as Kale, Chard, and Collards can generally last a bit longer before wilting. (Also, since these greens are generally cooked, it’s not as consequential if they get a bit wilty before consumption)
  •  Broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi, brussels and cabbage will all store a bit better than greens, but not quite as long as roots. Broccoli is the quickest to turn yellow and rot, while cabbage can last several week.
  • Roots such as carrots, beets, parsnips, rutabaga, leeks and winter radishes can last many weeks if stored properly in the fridge. Since moisture loss happens mostly through the leaves, we’d recommend removing the greens before refrigeration. Greens can be composted, or in the case of beets, saved as a separate item to be consumed like spinach (so tasty!).
  • Onions, garlic, winter squash are best stored on the counter or in any other non-refrigerated place out of the sun. Don’t feel compelled to eat these items right away. If kept dry, they might last you well beyond the year’s end and into winter.
  • Potatoes also prefer non-refridgerated storage, but like it a bit cooler and moister than room temperature. If you’re not going to eat your potatoes for several week after pick-up, you might consider storingthem in a paper bag or cardboard box in your garage, or any other cool, dark area. Otherwise, the counter is just fine for short term storage.
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The Chic Chicories   

 In case you didn’t know, chicories are all the rage. If you’re still in the dark, we forgive you, as the trend is still mostly limited to market farmers, food bloggers, hip chefs and… Italians. But that’s how all fringe greens get their starts, including kale and arugula back in the late aughts. A decade later, this motley crew of radicchio (Castelfrancos, Treviso, Chioggia, Verona, etc), sugarloaf, endive, escarole, and frisée, collectively known as chicories, are poised to eclipse the trendy greens of yore and make their mark on leafy history. And for good reason. Composed of three different species, the genus Chicorium boasts a wide diversity of cold-hardy, flavorful and aesthetically stunning greens that thrive in our cool, wet Northwest off-seasons. Their wide range of phytochemicals provide resistance to insect and fungal damage in the dank fall months compared to other greens. These secondary plant molecules also provide an endless array of bitter flavor profiles. Local Roots farm in Duvall, has made a name for themselves by trialing dozens of chicory varieties from the Seeds of Italy catalog, identifying the best for our area and producing loads of these greens for the Seattle restaurant market. Seattle has in turn caught chicory fever and even started their own Chicory Week and Chicory Fest, modeled after the regional food festivals of Italy. Yes, these farmers, breeders, chefs and foodies have carved out an entire week to celebrate glorified dandilions. Are you sold yet? Hopefully you enjoyed your frisee salad this past week and are ready to dive deeper. This week’s share you get a head of Variegata di Castlefranco, known in Italy as “Orchid Lettuce” and “Winter Rose”. Dig in.
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Food and Farming in Laos

We just returned from a a three-week vacation in Laos, where we rested our weary brains and celebrated our honeymoon. The best part of the trip was exploring the vast, smelly, colorful markets full of fresh vegetables, live catfish, odd forest products, and… squirrels? We did our best to taste every strange food we encountered and fell in love with the traditional Lao soup served for breakfast on the street corners. A highlight was trekking through miles and miles of farmland where we observed more rice patties than previously imaginable, as well as diverse vegetable fields full of asian greens, eggplants, pumpkins and herbs. Pigs, chickens and water buffalo roamed freely, unrestrained by fences, roads or any kind of property boundary. We took heart in seeing so many fields dedicated to growing seed, often just the remnant, unharvested food crops left behind to dry down. In a country with little to no commercial seed trade, (we saw a few Chinese seed packets at the grocery stores, but that’s all), seed saving still remains a vital and intrinsic part of the farming culture.