From the Farmer

Week 10 – 8/8/2012
Hello CSA Members,
 
Watermelon this week! Much of our watermelon is yellow, very sweet, and not too seedy. ‘Sunshine’ is my favorite watermelon. And beans return—purple and white beans that have a very nice crunch and rich flavor.
 
Peppers and Potatoes
 
Peppers—both sweet and hot—are by species the same, Capsicum annuum. Capsicum comes from the Greek kapto which means ‘bite’. Some are bred for heat and have been around for a long time; chiles have been eaten in Mexico for more than 5,000 years. The Aztecs had a half-dozen words for hot peppers and the Incas used peppers as a kind of currency. Hot ones give some people a pleasant sitmulation, but to others it can be too much (it turns out that birds seem to be unaffected by capsaicin). That said, if you’re headed overseas and want to prepare yourself, you can build your tolerance slowly. The hot stuff is concentrated in the white pith around pepper seeds (not in the seeds themselves), so you can start by using just the flesh. In fact, if you want to add just a bit of heat to a dish, slice a hot pepper and put it in the pan, then take it out whole after you’ve finished cooking. Then, as you build your heat-strength, start chopping but avoid the inner parts of the pepper. And when you’re ready to start breathing fire, use the whole thing.
 
Sweet peppers, on the other hand, have no capsaicin due to their genetic disposition. Like many fruit, these are best when they fully mature and turn red. Red peppers also cost a heck of a lot more than green peppers. Well, it takes more work to grow red peppers: another three weeks or so before a plant’s fruit start turning red, and a lot can go wrong in those three weeks, from disease to pest to nutrient requirements. So the premium on colored peppers covers the cost of additional hair-loss treatments for farmers who worry a lot.
 
Like peppers, potatoes are also in the nightshade (Solanceae) family. They hang closer on the family tree to tomatoes and peppers than to tomatillos and cape gooseberries. All are from the Americas (notIreland!), and wild potato species occur from the United States south to southern Chile. Since being domesticated over 7,000 years ago, they’ve migrated all over the world: first to Europe, where their starchy nutrition spurred a quarter of the growth in population between 1700 and 1900, to Africa, to Asia and back to North America. China now produces more potatoes than any other country in the world, including Idaho (a country unto itself). 
 
There are thousands of varieties of potatoes and similar species. We grow about six of them here: red skin and red flesh, yellow, blue, russet and fingerlings. This week’s potatoes are blue and make great chips— try cutting them in rounds and frying them in a pan. They stay blue when cooked!
 
Baked Goods Pre-Order Online
 
Need a dessert to go with Pizza Night for the kids? Having guests over this weekend? Pre-order this week’s Fruit Pie (in season, Virginia fruit) or Tart (our own tomatoes and basil) and pick them up at the Farm Stand on Saturday. The clickable links to the left expire Wednesday night, so please place an order before then!
 
Have a good week and be great, 
 
Mike
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Willowsford Conservancy

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