Packing Produce (CSA week 3)

Well, things are finally starting to grow. Since it’s been so warm lately, I forget how cold it was earlier in the year, and I wonder why things aren’t ready for harvest. But those days in May and early June make a real differencel on when things are ready. But I’m thankful for the warmth…it allows us to watch those warm-season crops take off and finish off the cold season ones (like the spinich which made it in the box before it “bolted” or went to seed). I’m also thankful for the mild rain we had yesterday instead of the “monster storm” we were supposed to get. I feel that we’ve already had our hail for the year and don’t want another round.

One new development for the year is our new packing shed where we bring in all the produce to be washed and packed in boxes. The shed isn’t exactly new, but we converted our machine shed for the purpose. Up til now, we’ve used the greenhouse, which isn’t optimal for a number of reasons. One being that it’s just a dirt floor and after sloshing around water for a while, I always find myself in a big mud puddle….the heat of the greenhouse didn’t help either!
The set up of the packing shed is pretty important. It’s kind of like a little manufacturing plant…produce comes in, goes through a couple stations and finished CSA boxes go out. I have it set up with all the washing tubs on one side and the tables which hold the boxes on the other. We have a whole bank of tubs and sinks so that we can soak a different crop in each tub for a while, since it’s really important to hydrocool produce for a good half-hour to take out the field heat. If we didn’t do this, the produce would look good when you first get it and then mysteriously go bad in a couple days. In the back is our walk-in cooler–out of the way–where things can be held over for a while. I even just got a set of roollers (kind of like a conveyor belt with rollers) which we’ll be settting up to lessen the time we spend shifting crates of produce around…when the boxes are done, we’ll be able to just count them off and push them down the rollers to the van instead of take two at a time, walking back and forth from the van.
In the box:
Napa Cabbage (see recipe): the recipe is for a cold slaw, but napa is a traditional stir-fry stand by. I like cooked more myself.
Pint o’strawberries
Summer squash (some zucchini and some yellow pattypans)
Cilantro (wish I had some tomatoes to go with this!)
Braising Mix: this is a mix of young greens which can be sauteed on their own with some onions or garlic or added a stir fry at the very end. Just chop and fry.
Red Oaklead Lettuce: one of my favorites…it’s pretty and has a nice nutty flavor.
Romaine Lettuce

  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar (not seasoned)
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon grated peeled ginger
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 fresh serrano chile, finely chopped, with seeds
  • 1 small head Napa cabbage (1 1/2 pounds), cored and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch slices
  • 1 bunch scallions, sliced
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro

Whisk together vinegar, sugar, ginger, oil, chile, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add remaining ingredients and toss well. Let stand, tossing occasionally, 10 minutes.

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