From the Farmer

Week 22 – 10/12/2016

Sweet Potatoes and Radishes
New in your share this week: sweet potatoes and radishes.  This week we bring you French breakfast radishes, which are an elegant elongation of red on white crunch.  What I like about these radishes is their shape – cylindrical, which makes them easy to cut into rounds.  For frying.  Not a radish lover?  Try cooking them in sesame or coconut oil for flavor, and treat them like French fries.  I like a spicy bar-b-que sauce like 3 Springs Peach.  Put these in the crisper in your fridge, and put them in a bag first so they don’t get rubbery.  If you don’t eat the greens – you can and should – take them off.  A moistened paper towel, wrung out, in the bag will help keep them firm.

At meeting today R.D. told me he doesn’t like sweet potatoes.  Whaa?  I get it, different tastes for different taste buds.  But let me tell you that sweet potatoes can change the world.  They grow from tropics to 45° latitudes.  They don’t need the best soils.  Their greens are as good as the tuber.  And they come in different colors, textures and degrees of sweetness.  Show me an R.D. that doesn’t like sweet potatoes and I’ll show you an R.D. that hasn’t found the right one.

This year we’ve grown seven varieties: Beauregard, Orleans and Covington (all orange varieties), Puerto Rico (a pale orange), and O’Henry and White Hammon, the last two white skinned and white fleshed.  The differences between the oranges are subtle, we see them more in shape and growth pattern, but the differences between orange and white is substantial.  As our harvest cures we’ll put whites in our share and will let you know what you’re dealing with.

Speaking of harvest and curing, a couple notes about sweet potatoes.  First of all, they are not the same as Irish or white potatoes (related to tomatoes and peppers and native to South America), nor are they the same as nor related to the yam, which is native to Africa.  Sweet potatoes are related to morning glories (you’ll recognize the flower!) and are native to the Americas, which makes for an interesting discussion of dispersal through the world, covered in archived issues of the newsletter.

Store your sweet potatoes in a cool, dark place.  They like 50-60 degrees F and not too humid.  As with many storage crops, we don’t wash sweet potatoes.  They will last longer as they come to you – wash them as you use them, and don’t put them in the fridge.  Cold temperatures make their centers hard.

Use them now or store them for later.  Our sweet potatoes were harvested over the last two weeks, and if you eat them regularly this fall and winter you may notice a change in flavor.  In fact, they are not as sweet or moist when they’re first dug, and they may not bake directly into a great sweetness this week.  Personally, I like a less sweet sweet potato and prefer whites for this reason.  Warm, humid curing conditions let the potatoes heal any little scratches, and the curing process triggers the development of sugar-creating enzymes.  Then, in cooler 55°F storage, sugars will develop further, as will a maltose sugar-creating enzyme.  The enzyme kicks in when a sweet potato bakes at 350-375°F – keep going until you start to smell a sweet, caramelized smell.

Last Week of Flower Shares
This week marks the end of 2016 flower shares.  Barbara, Dennis and their team at Greenstone Fields did a beautiful job making bouquets this year.  They bring it every week – local, colorful, and long-lasting, grown naturally and with love.  We hope you've loved them as much as we have.  

Farm Stand Fourth Anniversary
How many of you are still with us from our first season, 2012?  Remember when we did CSA and farm stand behind the Tenant House?  Actually, the first week was in a tent next to the TH.  I’m not a big tent putter-upper and that didn’t last long.  So I was looking for a little inspiration (it’s not plagiarism if you poach from yourself, is it?) and came across a newsletter from October of 2012.  I’d forgotten that we didn’t move to the Farm Garden until October 3rd.  I do remember that it didn’t come soon enough.  We were psyched!  And still are.  The shed was built by Cochran’s Stone Masonry of Lincoln, a few towns west and north of us.  They did the addition in spring of 2015, also.

We are thrilled (Deb is thrilled; Mike doesn’t use the word Thrilled, he’s participating in the Announce part) to announce for sale at the Farm Stand this week:

  • Willowsford Farm Tomato Sauce, 16-ounce jar: $7.99 – great gifts and great on spaghetti!
  • Willowsford Farm Chickens, whole birds: $4.50/lb. – these are some of our largest, tenderest birds yet
  • Willowsford Farm Hats, 100% organic cotton WHILE SUPPLIES LAST: Free with Farm Stand purchases over $50; available for purchase for $19.99.

 

Be great,

Mike, Deb, Al, Lex, Anya, Jennifer, James, Christy, Tyler, Kay, Sonya, Julia, Kelly, Bella and Radish, goats x 11, the Willowsford Mudhens, meat chickens in the freezer, Roscoe RIP and Popcorn from the Fenway visitors’ dugout, Go Tribe!

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Willowsford Conservancy

41025 Willowsford Lane, Aldie, VA 20105

Phone: 571-440-2400

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Willowsford Farm Stand

23595 Founders Drive, Ashburn, VA 20148

Phone: 571-297-6900

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