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Food Preservation in a Hurry

Nathaniel and our custom kraut smusher.

I’m sure I’m not the only one of us who has made it through all of summer only to now notice the pantry is absent of any preserves and the freezer lacks any sign of this year’s harvest. Never fear! Time Constrained Preservation Princess is here (yep, that’s what I’m now going by).  Now is as good of time as any to capture the tastes of summer in quart jars and freezer bags. I never do anything too complicated, as time is still limited and precious, but my oh my do I love myself in the winter for doing the deliciously easy stuff now. So… here’s what I prioritize in preservationville (not quite as exciting as Margaritaville, RIP Jimmy Buffet).


Pesto!! We make boat loads and just freeze it in pint sized freezer jars. No water bath shenanigans, super easy peasy (and basily). I also dehydrate tons of basil and jar it up for future pizzas, soups, pastas and gifts. It’s so much sweeter and more flavorful than the old store stuff.


Next, we freeze tomatoes whole in ziplock bags, especially cherry tomatoes, but we do this with the big guys, too. You literally don’t have to do anything expect take off their green stems. We pour the frozen flavor bombs into soups and stews come cold season. Boomshakala!  I also roast tomatoes whole with a little olive oil and salt until they’re pretty much caramelized. Once cooled, I jar or bag this sludgy bliss and toss that into the freezer for casseroles, pizzas, soups, etc. Lastly, I cook down tomatoes whole with the skins on (most recipes tell you to remove the skins, but I’m not that kind of girl).

I use the immersion blender to break ‘em up if I want sauce and leave some in full tomato form for stewed tomatoes. Once they’re cooked down to my liking, I put the tomatoes in sterilized jars, add 2 TBS of bottled lemon juice per quart, seal it up, and water bath the beauties for 20 minutes. Yes, this is a bit of effort, but for farm fresh, heirloom tomato gloriousness, it’s worth it.


We’re all about making loads kraut, kimchi, curtido, and more kraut. They all maximizes the health benefits of cabbage with all its probiotics that make food more digestible and improves your guts ability to absorb nutrients. Fermented foods are also easy to make. I use the Sandor Katz’s book “Wild Fermentation” for the specifics, but their are oceans of recipes on the ol internet. This is an excellent mode of preserving cabbage and more for 4-6months.

Carrots, Radishes, Cucumbers, Onions, and Garlic

Other than that, I’m pretty into quick pickling carrots, radishes, and cucumbers, dehydrating garlic and onions for garlic and onion powder. I’d love to hear your preservation passions and secrets to keeping the harvest!

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Chicories are Trending

For those of you unacculturated to the wonderful universe that is Chicorylandia, we’re so glad you made it. For you who’ve been here before, welcome back to town. It’s a trendy little locale! A few weeks back, the NYTs even proclaimed chicory is “in season and in style”: And it had its very own hipster festival in Seattle: and social media presence #bitterisbetter and @chicoryweek.

But what is it? And what’s up with it? Chicories are a passion of these farmers of yours. They’re a big ol beautiful family with origins in Italy. They’re generally slightly bitter (but that doesn’t equal bad!), always leafy, and enjoyable raw or cooked. Frisee (aka curly endive), Belgian endive, escarole, and radicchio are all relatives found in the chicory family tree. If you’d like to eat them raw, a sweet and rich topping is recommended. Apples, pears, citrus, strong cheese, candied nuts, crème fraiche, fried bacon, and warm vinaigrettes are all stellar companions to these beautiful leaves when eaten in salad. If you cook them, the bitterness subsides and a nutty, earthiness shines through. Risottos, soups, and baked pastas are all traditional ways to show your regards to this winter hardy crew. Like I’ve said to our longer term farm share members, you like bitter things! Remember coffee and chocolate??? Don’t deny yourself the beauty and experience that is chicory indulging, just because you aren’t used to bitter in greens. It takes a little time, the right recipes, and an open mind, but you can do it! But if you’re still not convinced, we won’t judge you for eating bok choi this week instead.

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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 may 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, consider storing them 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, and hip chefs. 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.