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Jupiter Ridge 2019 CSA “Italian Share!” | Week 4 Newsletter

Hi CSA Members!

Make sure to whip out your Italian cookbooks or your fave Italian recipes for this share. We’ll be packing it with a lot of tasty ingredients used in Italian cuisine! (And generally speaking, this is going to be a very big share. Hope you enjoy!)

Just a heads up: CSA delivery will be taking place on Wednesday evening this week rather than Tuesday (tomorrow). Be sure to leave your empty cooler out with ice packs then!

What you’ll be getting:

  • Shiitake Mushrooms
  • Red Round Slicer Tomato
  • Large Heirloom Tomato
  • Bunch Sweet Italian Basil (Genovese Basil)
  • Bunch Oregano
  • Lacinato Kale Bunch
  • Head Lettuce
  • Green Zucchini
  • Yellow Crookneck Summer Squash
  • Patty Pan Squash
  • Cucumbers
  • Green Beans
  • Rainbow Baby Beets
  • Sweet Onion

Tomatoes and basil are considered a “holy grail” pairing, one that is especially revered (and featured in) Italian cooking. Oregano is another great one (it helps round out tomatoes and basil in tomato sauces and Italian gravies, for example), while Lacinato kale (also known as Tuscan kale, from Tuscany, Italy) is the star green for Italian cuisine and our share (and a favorite variety of kale among chefs – very tender, flavorful, and nutrient-dense!)

Lacinato Kale
Lacinato, Tuscan, or “Dinosaur” Kale, right before its delivery to Brazen Open Kitchen in Dubuque.

Can’t forget zucchini of course, a notable Italian vegetable (with a very Italian name).

Don’t want to cook Italian with all these ingredients? No problem. Cucumbers, sweet onion, baby beets, lettuce, and shiitake mushrooms in this week’s share will allow you to explore plenty of other avenues, too!

So Many Items in My CSA Share! Here’s How To Make Them Go The Distance

One thing we’ve heard many people say about CSA’s in general (whether they’re in one or considering one): you get too much food, you get overwhelmed, and then it all goes bad. It’s true this can happen: this is a tendency in some CSA’s (though not all of them, but you can run into this possibility depending on the farm or the farmer).

Heirloom Tomato
Is this a closeup of planet Jupiter? No, it’s a German Stripe heirloom tomato.

Part of the whole deal with a CSA is that you are signing up for both the “Risk and Rewards” of supporting your farmer with a whole share. You get whatever they have available on the farm.

But part of this is that you might get a lot of what a farmer happens to have, and sometimes that is something quite perishable (in the springtime, this might be greens, like kale) or something you might not be too excited about.

Not only might it be quite the task to keep up with cooking it all in one week (and in new, creative, appetizing ways that keep you excited), but you might also get a little exhausted of getting it over, and over, and over… and coming up with new ways to eat it (or even finding time to figure out how to eat it, for that matter).

So, to get the most out of the cost of your CSA share and ensure nothing goes to waste, here’s what we recommend for certain items:

  • You don’t have to eat those root vegetables right away.

Store them in a cool, dry place (the crisper drawer of your fridge is alright) at a temperature of between 32 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit, optimally (according to Modern Farmer). That immediately makes things like beets, potatoes, and even that enormous turnip in your share less daunting, and you don’t have to feel the pressure of using it right away. You can actually even wait a few weeks (sometimes months, depending on the root vegetable) before you even use it.

This goes for winter squash, too. As for onions, if you get sweet onions in your share, be sure to use them up before any storage type onions you get. Owing to their higher sugar content, sweet onions will go bad before your storage bulbs – while the latter you can keep just like other root veggies up to a few months in some cases.

  • Can’t eat all those greens? Blanch and freeze them.

It’s actually pretty quick and easy and takes almost no time, and I’ve done it many times in the autumn as our kale slows down production and dies back – I harvest any leftover leaves, blanch, and then freeze them. The Spruce has a good little tutorial on how to do it. It’s worth it.

Now you have greens with plenty of nutrients left in them still for the winter. It’s a great method to do with any excess kale, collard greens, swiss chard, arugula, and spinach you just can’t seem to get through (sadly, it doesn’t work so great for lettuce).

These frozen greens can then be cooked, added to sauces/pastas/soups, and they’re still tasty enough to throw into a smoothie or into the juicer. For that matter, a lot of other produce can be blanched and frozen, not just greens: like summer squash, green beans, sugar snap peas, and lots more.

Collard Bunches
Collard greens, these are great for blanching and freezing.
  • Make sure to store your tomatoes outside of the fridge.

This is a big one. We tend not to try to overload our members with tomatoes (although we know that they’re probably the most exciting item to people in the summer), but simply “not being in the mood” for tomatoes (or getting sick of tomatoes in summer) is a very, very, very real thing.

So, make sure to avoid storing your tomatoes in the fridge if you don’t want to get to them right away. They keep much, much longer at room temperature, anyway (and you’ll notice them going bad  much sooner than when you leave them out of sight and out of mind in your crisper drawer).

  • Keep mushrooms refrigerated in paper, not plastic.

Can’t get to your shiitake mushrooms right away (or oyster mushrooms, or lion’s mane mushrooms, which CSA members might get in the future from our farm)?

You’ll get your shiitakes delivered to you in your share in a small plastic bag, but if you can’t cook them within a few days to a week, move them to be stored in something like a brown paper bag. This will definitely extend their shelf life to over one week, sometimes even two weeks, because it helps “wick” excess moisture away while still keeping some of it in to prevent your mushrooms from drying out too much.

If some brown spots form on mushroom gills, don’t worry – that is just oxidation, your mushrooms are still edible! It just makes them look a little ugly.

Shiitakes

It can be a chore to stay on top of all your CSA share produce (especially if you get a lot of certain items at once). This is one of the reasons why our CSA is set up a little differently: we start in July (when we are at the peak in our produce variety) and end our subscription with Fall produce that includes what is available not only in Autumn, but ALSO what’s available in Spring (so you get it all!)

Have any questions about your CSA share and what’s in it?

Never hesitate to ask! Email: jupiterridgefarm@gmail.com

Yours,
Adrian & Will | Jupiter Ridge Farm

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Jupiter Ridge 2019 CSA “Rainbow Share!” | Week 3 Newsletter

Hi CSA Members!

For this week’s share, you’ll be enjoying some of the most colorful produce of the season thus far (and arguably, the most colorful produce you can even grow and eat!).

So we’re calling it a “Rainbow Share.”

Here’s what you’ll be getting tomorrow:

  • Rainbow Carrots
  • Rainbow Baby Beets
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Red Slicer Tomato
  • Yellow Hot Pickling Peppers
  • Green Kale
  • Zucchini
  • Cucumber
  • Green Beans
  • Red Onion
  • Thai Basil

We hope you enjoy all the color and flavor these veggies can offer. Enjoy!

What Is Thai Basil? | Explanation and Tips

This week, the culinary herb you’ll be getting is Thai basil. It looks a bit like the other varieties of basil that are more popular and that you’d usually see at the grocery store (those are called “sweet basil” varieties, the green one you see a lot is considered an Italian or Genovese type basil type).

Herb Bunches | Jupiter Ridge Farm
Tons of herbs! The bunch on the far lower left with the small purple flowers is Thai basil.

Thai basil has a bit of that sweet flavor like Italian basil, but also has a prominent “licorice” or “anise” type flavor thrown in, too. It should be cooked like Italian basil too, best thrown in at the end of a recipe to infuse it with its flavor.

Be sure to look up some Thai recipes featuring Thai basil and give them a try if you like. Though here are some ideas that Jupiter Ridge farmer Will has used:

Combine it with sweet fruits in a sauce to top cooked meats after they are prepared (especially pork or fish), or even as a marinade. Will has paired Thai basil with plum and it’s a flavorful match made in heaven.

Substitute mint for Thai basil in a mojito recipe (or if you don’t drink, a mojito mocktail recipe sans the booze). The result is an absolutely refreshing and cooling beverage (we’ve been enjoying it ourselves here and there up on Jupiter Ridge)! Throw your cucumber into the drink, too, if you like – cucumber and Thai basil taste amazing together in beverages.

Wellness Spotlight On: Rainbow Beets

In your share, you’ll also be getting a bag of rainbow baby beets: white beets, gold beets, chioggia beets, and the standard red beets.

Rainbow Beets | Jupiter Ridge Farm

These are awesome pickled, cooked, or roasted whole (a farmer friend of ours even smokes them after cooking – amazing!). But where they may really shine is when they are used raw in juices and smoothies (yes, you can probably see where I’m going with this).

Before beets were widely considered a food, they were actually considered more of a medicinal herb. Nowadays they are a popular addition to “detox” juices and smoothies not only because they turn them such an appetizing red color, but also because they’re chock-full of antioxidants and fiber that support a healthy liver (which in turn helps your body detox naturally), improve gut health, and boost heart health, too.

More specifically, red beets contain natural nitrates that help lower blood pressure and boost circulation (as a result, athletes love to use it because it helps increase aerobic capacity). Red beets also contain betalains (responsible for red beets’ red dye-like color).

Harvesting Beets | Jupiter Ridge Farm

But what about the other beets: gold, white, and chioggia?

Well, chioggia beets (the pink ones in your share that when you cut them open, have a bull-eye like pattern on the inside) share some of the same health properties as red beets because they have some of the same pigment.

Gold beets on the other hand have an entirely different set of antioxidants and health benefits. Instead of betalains, the gold pigment they have is actually made of lycopene and zeaxanthin, two different antioxidants (lycopene is great for reproductive health and heart health, while zeaxanthin is GREAT for eye health, apparently!)

OK – what about the white beets?

These have less antioxidants, but are plenty high in fiber (great for your gut). Here’s the kicker: they’re SWEETER than all the other beet varieties. So while the others will keep you healthy, enjoy the white beets as a sweet treat (they’re awesome sliced or grated raw into salads, or throw them into your smoothie/juice blend).

Have questions about how to cook/prepare items in your share?

Or are you curious about the health benefits of any of the herbs, veggies, or mushrooms you receive?

Don’t hesitate to contact us! – jupiterridgefarm@gmail.com

Best,
Adrian & Will | Jupiter Ridge Farm

Jupiter Ridge 2019 CSA | Week 2 Newsletter

Greetings CSA members – and welcome to our second CSA week!

Without further ado, here’s what you can expect for your delivery to come tomorrow:

  • Mixed Cherry Tomatoes
  • Red Round Slicing Tomato (Delicious!)
  • Patty Pan Squash
  • Mini Cabbage Trio (Red Cabbage, Round Green Cabbage, Oblong Green Cabbage)
  • Bunch Sweet Onions (White)
  • Bunch Carrots
  • Bunch Kale
  • Shiitake Mushrooms
  • Garlic Scapes
  • Bunch Sage

Some farm updates: as the summer moves on to what tends to be its “hottest” phase yet, we’re saying goodbye to crops like sugar snap peas, turnips, and salad mix (though we still have some head lettuce in the ground and on the way!), while welcoming some newcomers. Just today, we trellised up sweet peppers, hot peppers, and eggplants, which our members will be able to enjoy at some point pretty soon.

We also trellised up an all-new crop we’ve never worked with: ground cherries. Think tomatillo with an earthier, more date-like (or even fig-like) flavor. Perhaps our CSA members will see some of those pretty soon here, too, if they do well!

Our most important news: we’re almost done rebuilding our shiitake production house and doubling its size. This means tons and tons (and tons) of shiitakes will be available to close out our season (and very likely more available to our CSA members than they’ve ever been before!)

Shiitake Production | Jupiter Ridge Farm

We can’t wait to deliver what’s growing right around the corner to you. Some other notable upcoming veggie possibilities in your share: beets (red, gold, white, chioggia/striped), rainbow carrots, head lettuce (romaine and frilled butter bibb/green), and lots more!

Thanks again for choosing us as your farmers.

What Is Patty Pan Squash? | Explanation and Tips

Before you pull out the strange circular-looking squash from your cooler and get confused (in my opinion, it looks like a UFO or a spaceship), reading this section can dispel some of that confusion.

Summer Squash | Jupiter Ridge Farm
Patty Pan squash: it’s the round one in the middle.

Despite its shape, patty pans aren’t as weird to cook with as they might look like at first glance. You can cook them in the exact same ways as their close relatives, zucchini (on the left) and crookneck or other yellow summer squashes (on the right).

I have to point out that patty pans (as I described to a farmers market customer just this past Saturday) have a firmer, more starchy texture than summer squash, but the same buttery and delicious flavor.

Jupiter Ridge’s Farmer Adrian says they’re absolutely perfect for those “stuffed squash” recipes (try substituting those “zucchini boat” recipes for patty pan squash, they make for perfect single-serving little squashes) and baking them with a stuffed filling in the oven.

Though it goes good with everything (it’s true), bacon is an irresistible combo with summer squashes like patty pan. A great combo for grilling season especially.

Jupiter Ridge’s Farmer Will has used summer squashes (including patty pan) for a grilled bruschetta. Cut it open laterally and top with garlic, olive oil, basil, tomato, and perhaps a sprinkling of mozzarella cheese. This is a great grilling option, too, or put it in the oven!

Local Iowa Bruschetta | Jupiter Ridge Farm
Bruschetta made from farm veggies.
Wellness Spotlight On: Garden Sage

With a bunch of culinary sage to be expected in your share, here’s where I can put my (Adrian’s) herbalist hat on for a moment and explain a little bit about it on the health front.

In culinary terms, sage will pair great with those tomatoes, squash, and garlic scapes in your share. It’s also rich in antioxidants that you can experience some of if you use it as a spice in your meals, but which you can get an even greater dose of (at a time) if sage is used as a tea (fresh or dried – it doesn’t matter). Some of the perks of these antioxidants: better immunity, and better better brain function, reportedly and according to studies.

Though it’s tasty when used fresh in food (highly recommend!) another option is to dry it, hang it, and save it for winter as a tea for boosting immune systems for colds and flu (and it’s good for coughs too).  It may have an intense flavor in tea, but tastes amazing with honey (or use it as one of many herbs in a hot toddy for a sore throat – delicious!)

Sage | Jupiter Ridge Farm
Sage closeup

Enjoy the sage (and the rest of your share) this week!

Yours,
Adrian & Will | Jupiter Ridge Farm

Jupiter Ridge 2019 CSA | Week 1 Newsletter

Greetings CSA Members! (Or non-members who happen to be reading, or even potential future members…)

Heading into our first CSA week 2019, we’re so excited to have you on board. Tomorrow brings our first delivery to the Cedar Rapids area. Expect your first share (delivered in personal cooler with ice packs) on your porch or stoop tomorrow evening! During the time of your delivery, we will also be in the neighborhood delivering fresh produce to Cedar Rapids restaurant favorites like Cobble Hill, Rodina, The Map Room, and many others!

*Next Tuesday, make sure to leave the cooler we left you out on your porch/stoop at around or before 4 PM.*

We will swap it out, clean it, and replace it with a fresh new cooler packed and cooled with your new share next week.

The first delivery will include: 

  • Mixed Cherry Tomatoes
  • Shiitake Mushrooms
  • Cucumbers
  • Napa Cabbage
  • Basil (Purple “Opal” variety)
  • Carrots (Orange)
  • Summer Squash
  • Garlic Scapes
  • Kale Bunch (Green)
  • Bunched Sweet Fresh Onions (Red, Semi-Sweet)
What Are Garlic Scapes? | Some Explanation and Tips

To those who are already acquainted with and delighted by garlic scapes: my apologies. For the rest who may be curious reading that they will find garlic scapes in their share and who have never experienced them, you might be thinking: what are they? What will they be?

Or, when you open your share, you’ll wonder: “What are these pigtail-looking things?

Garlic Scapes | Jupiter Ridge Farm
Meet garlic scapes.

Garlic scapes are the flower of the garlic plant. As the garlic plant gets larger during the early summer months, the flowers must be picked off and removed so the plant shifts its focus from flower/foliar production back to bulb production. Scapes must be picked (and we choose to pick them) so we pull up the biggest, most pungent and delicious garlic bulbs come late summer for garlic harvest.

Though we don’t want them on our garlic plants, they’re very, very, VERY welcome in the kitchen.

You can chop off the pale white/yellow flowering head you see pictured and mince the green part of the flower stalk. Think of it as a cross between green garlic or onions and a garlic bulb, except it packs a bit more of that trademark garlic pungency.

Jupiter Ridge’s farmer Will recommends very finely mincing garlic scapes raw into a salad with cucumber, basil, tomatoes, olive oil, and vinegar.

Jupiter Ridge’s farmer Adrian would suggest using it in place of bulb garlic in pesto, it seems to bring out a “punchier” garlic flavor. It’s also great on pizzas (kind of like the wood-fired pizzas you’ll find at Park Farm Winery, which use our own local organic scapes!)

To keep it simple, garlic scapes can be minced and used to replace bulb garlic in just about any recipe.

Let us know if you have any questions about it – email us, Facebook message us, or Instagram message us. We’re happy to talk to you about them.

Wellness Spotlight On: Shiitake Mushrooms

I can’t tell people enough about how great shiitake mushrooms are for health at farmers market.

Talk about the ultimate meat replacement for all you vegans out there (and to you meat eaters, shiitakes make an EXCELLENT pairing with steaks and burgers). Shiitake mushrooms come packed with tons of protein and fiber, the former being incredibly important for vegans/vegetarians skimping on meat, but the latter (fiber) is important to your gut (and you won’t find it in meat).

Also, sun-exposed shiitakes (like ours to some extent, which are grown outdoors) are some of the highest non-meat food sources of vitamin D out there, which is a very important vitamin for non-meat-eaters to stay on top of. The same goes for vitamin B12 (which, yes, shiitakes also contain small traces of).

So there you go – for anyone wanting to cut out or replace meat consumption (but are worried about missing out on the nutrition we crave from it), shiitake mushrooms are a satisfying choice.

Also: we can’t forget that shiitakes are considered a “medicinal” mushroom in some parts of the world. The antioxidants they contain have been shown to support healthy blood pressure levels, boost the immune system, and reduce the risk of major illnesses, even cancer.

Find shiitake mushrooms in your share this week!!!!

We look forward to delivering to you tomorrow, and we hope you enjoy the very best of the summer fare we have going on right now.

Best,
Adrian & Will | Jupiter Ridge Farm