Well, here it is folks, the last week of the 2020 CSA season. Let’s all take a deep breath and slowly exhale because it’s been one helluva ride. I usually joke that my two favorite weeks of the season are the first pickup and the last pickup of the season. I can honestly say that I’m not really sure how I feel at the moment. I think the first thing that comes to mind is relief and that I’m really tired. I’ve been on autopilot since March and I wasn’t really sure what was going to happen this season, especially since the number of interns that I had in the summer and fall was significantly lower than I have had in the past. But the ones that I’ve had have worked extremely hard to make the season a success. Farming is hard work both emotionally and physically. Farming during a global pandemic with drought conditions throughout the season is some next level stuff.
I am also very thankful for each and every one of you. Being a part of a CSA is a leap of faith of sorts. You all get to experience the ups and downs of the season each week and this season they seemed to be amplified a tad bit more. I had to make decisions throughout the season to plant more or less of something or not at all based on the fact that I didn’t know how many interns I would have, if the College was going to be on a complete shutdown at some point or if the State was going to shutdown. Oh, and juggling my wife’s work schedule, some home/virtual learning for a 6 year old and a toddler who is reminiscent of Bam Bam from The Flintstones. March seems so long ago since all of this started. But I am so appreciative of the words of encouragement through email notes and conversations at pickup throughout the season. You all really epitomized the community of community supported agriculture. I really can’t thank you all enough. And for those of you joining a CSA for the first time, you all get an extra round of applause.
It seems fitting that this is the last week of the season because the end of the week and over the weekend it was forecasted to be our first hard frost and multiple nights in the upper 20s. Most of what we had left in the field wasn’t going to survive that. Even the hoophouse crops would most likely not make it. So I spent the week and weekend clearing out everything that I could. Luckily, the weather shifted a bit and we didn’t experience our coldest night on the farm until Sunday and even that wasn’t terrible. All other farm projects were put on hold and they will pick up this week.
Ok, let’s talk about the last CSA share of the season. This week, baby ginger returns. If you’re getting it for the first time and are unfamiliar with it, let me tell you a few things. First, it’s different than ginger found in the store. It doesn’t have a hard brown skin that needs to be peeled. Because of that, it needs to be kept in the fridge and will last about 7-10 days before it needs to go in the freezer. You could also freeze it right off the bat. You can freeze it whole or slice it. I usually freeze it whole and grate off what I need when cooking with it or putting it in teas or smoothies. If you do end up freezing it, just don’t let it thaw completely or it will turn to mush. It also has a slightly sweeter taste with a strong ginger flavor over store bought. It is perfect in any stir fry but if you’re feeling adventurous, give homemade ginger beer a try. We made some in our food preservation class and it was super tasty. If you can get some, I recommend using champagne or brewer’s yeast. We just used baker’s yeast and it was good but I think either of the other yeasts would be better. I think they sell that at Ithaca Coffee Company in Triphammer Mall. I was real nervous about the tomatoes in the hoophouses so I harvest what I could. There aren’t many that are fully ripe but they all have some color (blush). A little trick to get them to ripen faster is to put them in a paper bag with an apple. The ethylene gas from the apple will help the ripening process. This is actually how most store bought tomatoes are ripened. They are picked at a blush stage and then transported across the country in big trucks that release ethylene and they ripen during transport. For those of you getting kohlrabi, they are much small than last week. But I wanted them to have their tops still so you could have one more nutritious green to eat. There are lots of baby rutabagas too. There were so many out in the field that I couldn’t bear to leave them. Oh, and I didn’t want to forget about the fingerlings. As I mentioned last week, these beauties are perfect for roasting. A majority of them this week are purple skinned/purple flesh. They’re a variety called magic molly and are truly wonderful. They will fade in color if you try to mash them. If you want to try something new with all your root veggies, try making a vegetable confit. We made that in our food preservation class last week and it was something that I had never done before. You’ll want to slice your veggies (I made a batch with potatoes, daikon, carrots, kohlrabi) into 1/2-1 inch slices and toss them in a baking dish with a couple of teaspoons of salt, pepper and thyme or rosemary and then cover them completely with olive oil. Then bake at 225/250 for 3-4 hours. You can pull them when the oil starts to bubble but not boil. Afterwards you pack the veggies in jars and cover with the same oil. It will keep in the fridge for up to 3 months.
Have a great week!