From the Farmer

Week 22 – 10/14/2015
In Your Share and Around the Farm
 
New this week: sweet salad turnips, bok choi and ginger.  Read on for more on ginger.  
 
Sweet salad turnips have a fine, mild flavor and crunch, and can be eaten raw in salads, cooked into main dishes, or roasted with other vegetables.  They look a little like white radishes but have no bite like a radish.
 
Bok choi is an Asian green that can be used like spinach or kale.  It wilts quickly on a stir-fry, can be added to eggs for a faint mustard taste, and folds easily into casserole, grain salad, heck I guess even lasagna.  Right? Steam it, eat it raw, or juice it.  I had a family with two kids around eight and ten who would come to CSA pickup and ask for more bok choi.  No lie.  The kids would juice it and add apples, they loved it.  They were such normal kids otherwise.
 
This is one of our favorite times of year.  Around the farm we are harvesting the last of the long-term crops such as sweet potatoes (coming soon), ginger and turmeric.  Lemongrass will stay in the ground until the first hard frost. Peppers are still plugging along but tomatoes have ended.  And we are stocked up on winter squash, potatoes and garlic.  Now we care for greens and cole crops like broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower, beets and carrots as they come ready for harvest.
 
Ginger
 
Fresh!  Baby!  Ginger!  Fresh baby ginger is the best.  Fantastic flavor, we grow this tropical plant through just the first half of its life cycle.  In the real world, it grows over two seasons, toughening up as it gets older and getting a thick skin.  It doesn’t like the cold, though, so we harvest before frost of its first year.  Normally we give it a little extra heat by growing it in a high tunnel, but this year we grew it in the elements.  It’s a hungry and thirsty crop, but aside from regular cultivation needs very little attention.  It’s so pretty, though, we give it lots of attention.
 
Ginger is one of those crops that a cuisine can evolve around.  It has such a unique and lively flavor it can, in small amounts, transform meals.  It is also truly a medicine chest.  Ginger is a warming plant, and acts as an anti-inflammatory.  It is said to remedy or help remedy a wide range of health issues: from sore throat, cold and flu to inflammation to heartburn and indigestion, pain relief and swelling, and possibly even obesity, diabetes and certain cancers.  As with many natural remedies there are often clear or less clear links to these issues, but we can be certain that ginger as a regular part of your diet is good for us.
 
Things to Do With Ginger
 
In addition to adding to all sorts of main courses, you can also use it in beverages and fermented foods:
  • Tea! Chop finely, add hot water and boil. Add other ingredients and honey, or drink as is.
  • Ginger ale! 3/4 cup ginger grated or finely chopped, ½ cup lime juice (fresh), 1/4 – 1/2 cup sugar (I like pure ground cane sugar), 2 tsp sea salt, 2 quarts filtered water, and an optional but recommended 1/4 cup whey.  Stir and cover tightly.  Leave at room temperature for 2-3 days then put in the refrigerator.  Strain into a glass to drink.  You can mix with carbonated water and drink warm (from Nourishing Traditions).
  • Cocktails, yes
  • Cranberry sauce (ok, not a beverage).  Cranberry sauce?  Well, yeah, I think so – it sounds like it might go together.  Try it this year.
  • Pickled (by itself or with beets or carrots)
  • Gari – the sushi condiment.  Make your own with ginger, rice or apple cider vinegar, and salt and sugar to taste (add beet to color it bad).
 
How to Store Your Ginger
 
As ginger has a small harvest window, and is best eaten fresh or stored, we will give you most of our ginger crop for you to save for yourself.  
 
Here is a little more information on storing ginger, both for the short-term and longer.  The best way to store ginger depends on what you plan to do with it – as I’ll say again below, if you don’t have plans, I recommend freezing!
 
Store ginger in a refrigerator or at room temperature (60°-72°F).  It should last about two to three weeks at room temperature before it starts to get wrinkly.  It can still be used after this point though it will have less moisture. 
 
If stored in a refrigerator, baby ginger will not hold for any length of time when brought back out into room temperatures.  So, once in the fridge, leave it in the fridge!  It will last about three weeks there.
 
You may see the pink bud scales turn a darker pink or purple when it’s stored in the fridge.  This is also okay – the ginger will still be fresh and strong.  You would only want to pick or cut these off if you are pickling or candying your ginger.
 
If storing to use for cooking, pickling, or candying another day, then rubbery is okay.
 
Freezing: If you don’t expect to use the ginger soon, I recommend freezing it.  It will be good in the freezer long into winter, and because it does not need to be peeled, it’s easy to slice or grate what you need and then return to the freezer.  
 
What frozen ginger is not good for: pickling or candying.  
 
Have fun with your ginger – it was a lot of fun growing it this year.
 
 
*Pink bud scales turn purple in the refrigerator but are still edible.
 
How Many Weeks Are Left in CSA?
 
Last CSA share week is the Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday before Thanksgiving – the week of 11/18, 19 and 21.
 
There will also be a Thanksgiving market on Tuesday, November 24. No shares that day – just pre-ordered veggies, side dishes, meat, turkey, dairy, etc.  More info coming soon.
 
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