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Putting Up, Canning, Freezing, Jammin', Jellying, Drying/Dehydrating, Picklin'

If sometimes it seems like you have more in your box than you can handle, consider preserving the peak nutrition and taste of foods for later. Or, how about ordering bulk produce for great winter eating?  If you're new to the world of food preservation, have no fear, here's how simple it can be!

  • Cook generous proportions for a meal (such as all the kale in your box). Eat what you want, then once the food is cooled, transfer leftovers to freezer bags, yogurt tubs, glass jars, or tupperware and place in your freezer. Voila! Now you have an easy side dish or meal for another day.
  • Label items with contents & date as it can be tricky to remember later. 
  • Some items are better blanched before freezing. Blanching is the process of cooking for a short time to disable food-degrading enzymes, and then placing in ice water to halt the cooking process. The blanching process helps to preserve the flavor and texture of foods, but isn't usually necessary for safety.
Canning - If you are full-on canning you will need some equipment and knowledge and proceed cautiously. Once you understand the safety basics, canning isn't intimidating. This site is helpful from the USDACanning with Ball is also very helpful. 

Drying/Dehydrating - Follow your dehydrator instructions. No dehydrator? You can likely use your oven on the lowest setting. The amount of time it takes to dry food varies by water content and size. 

Pickling - Pickling is not just for cucumbers! Virtually any veggie can be pickled.  Most pickling processes require that the product be water-bath canned or pressure canned. However, you can make pickles for a shorter storage term by storing in your refrigerator. 

Jam, Jelly, Preserves - Jam generally contains some pulp and pieces of fruit (seeds), jelly is devoid everything except the juice, and preserves contain larger pieces of fruit. Fruit butters are cooked down to a consistency of butter and are usually seasoned. 

www.Pickyourown.com has beau coups of info on canning, freezing, drying, jamming, and pickling with photos and step-by-step directions. www.foodinjars.com is another good resource.

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Amelia's Grandma's Sunday Cucumbers
Slice 1-3 cucumbers in 1/2" rounds. Put in a shallow bowl and generously salt and pepper. Top cucumbers with 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar and 1/2 cup cold water. Refrigerate 1/2 hour to overnight. Cover and store any leftovers in the refrigerator; they will keep up to 3 days.
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Butternut Squash With Kale and Swiss Chard
 from Whole30

Ingredients:
2 cups large-diced seeded, peeled butternut squash
1 Tbs olive oil
1 bunch kale, stemmed, leaves cut into 1" ribbons
1 bunch Swiss chard, stemmed, leaves cut into 1" ribbons
3 Tbs ghee or coconut oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup raw, sliced almonds
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper

Instructions:
1. Preheat oven to 425. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, toss butternut squash with olive oil. Pour onto baking sheet and roast 45 min. until fork tender.
3. About 15 min before squash is done, bring 2 cups water to boil in a large pot. Place colander or steamer basket over the pot. Add kale and Swiss chard and cover; steam until kale is tender but not soft, 3-5 min. Remove kale and chard from pot.
4. Dump water from pot and replace on stove over medium heat. Add the ghee or coconut oil and swirl to coat bottom of pot. When hot, add garlic and almonds. Stir until garlic is aromatic, about 1 min. Raise to high heat and add the steamed kale and chard. Toss for 20-30 seconds to combine. Remove from heat.
5. In a large serving bowl, toss roasted squash and kale-chard-garlic-almond mixture. Add salt and pepper and serve. 
Cooking notes from The Helpful Plate: You can substitute sweet potato chunks for the butternuts squash. Also, you can roast the squash in an aluminum foil packet on the grill instead of in the oven to avoid heating up your kitchen. Lastly, you can add some chicken to give this dish some added protein.

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Greek Salad
adapted from Whole30

Ingredients:
1 bunch red tip lettuce, chopped
4 tomatoes, cut into a large dice
1 large or 2 small cucumbers, cut into a large dice
2 Spring onions, ends trimmed, sliced thinly
30 pitted black olives, halved
1/4 cup good quality olive oil
1 Tbs red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 - 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
Juice of 1/2 lemon

Instructions:

1. Combine lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, onion, and olives into a large serving bowl. 
2. Combine the olive oil, vinegar, garlic, salt, pepper in a small bowl and whisk.
3. Pour whisked dressing over salad and gently toss to combine. Squeeze lemon juice on top to finish.
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Baby Greens Salad with Roasted Winter Squash
Ingredients:
Acorn (or Delicata) squash, cut in half, lengthwise, seeds scooped out
1-2 tsp olive oil
2-4 sweet peppers (bell peppers, shishitos, or Sweetie Peppers)
1 WineCrisp apple, cored and cut into bite-sized pieces 
2-4 cups Baby Greens, salad greens, spinach or spring mix
Optional:
-Sliced ham or turkey lunch meat or smoked sausage, cut in bite-sized pieces 
-1/4 cup mozzarella cheese, either shreds or cubed
Instructions:
1. Brush oil onto cut sides of Winter Squash and roast cut-side down on a grill or in the oven (375-degrees) for 20-30 mins. Turn over and cook ~20 more mins until fork tender.
2. While Squash is cooking, cut tops off Peppers and deseed. Cut into strips or 1/2” pieces.
3. Put half of the salad greens on each of 2 plates.
4. Top greens with half the Peppers, Apple and, if using, the meat and cheese.
5. When Squash is done cooking, allow it to cool enough to handle. Cut each half into slices.
6. Place half of the Squash slices on top of each salad.
7. Dress with flavored olive oil and balsamic (I used garlic flavored olive oil and pomegranate balsamic) or your favorite bottled Italian or vinaigrette dressing.
Serving note: this makes 2 dinner portion salads.
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All About Peppers

This week we zero in on two peppers in particular - The Padrón pepper and the Shishito pepper.

A not-so-famous, but delicious variety of peppers is the Padrón pepper, an earthy and nutty pepper that start out with a bright green exterior. These are relatively small peppers. Their appearance and function are similar to Shishitos. You can roast or blister Padróns just like you would Shishitos.

In this week's boxes, Padrón peppers may look red or may be in the process of turning red (as pictured above) and some may still be green, This is normal! Another distinguishing characteristic is they may also be a bit smaller than their Shishito cousin.

Similar to Padróns, recipes for Shishitos often employ cooking methods such as roasting, grilling or ‘blistering’. You can eat them raw, but the post popular way is to blister them in a skillet with a little bit of oil. 

Like most peppers, Shishitos are low calorie with 0 fat. They are high in vitamin A and also contain vitamin C. These make a great addition to an appetizer plate with some sharp cheese and some olives!

One main difference you may find this week is the Padrón peppers may pack more heat! Don't forget to check out our social media posts that include flavor profiles and heat indices on some of the most common peppers. In the meantime, here is an easy Pickled Peppers recipe that can be made with a variety of peppers.
Pickled Peppers
Ingredients
1/2 tsp vegetable oil
12 fresh Padrón, Fresno or jalapeño peppers
1/4 - 1 cup white sugar, depending on desired sweetness
12 black peppercorns
2 whole cloves garlic, peeled
3 cups white vinegar
Instructions
Heat oil in a large skillet over med-high heat. Place peppers in skillet; cook & stir until peppers are shiny and slightly blistered, 4-5 min. Remove from heat.
Transfer whole hot peppers to 1 quart mason jar, and press down.
Combine vinegar, sugar, peppercorns and garlic in a saucepan over med-high heat. Bring to boil to dissolve sugar. Stir and remove from heat immediately. Pour mixture over peppers in jar., leaving 1/2 in head space. Screw on lid and let seal for 24 hours. Refrigerate and enjoy!

All About Pickling! A HOW TO GUIDE for BEGINNERS
Harvests may have been bountiful, but by now you may be bored with making chutney. It’s time to embrace brine! With the help of salt water, a process known as lacto-fermentation can give surplus veg a new lease of life.

Fermented foods are manna for good gut flora, and fermented pickles are part of that package. These sorts of pickles are often best done in small batches, so they’re ideal for that handful of beans you can’t motivate yourself to eat, or the courgette that ballooned when you weren’t looking.

You can also save crops that might not be at their best, such as green tomatoes that won’t ripen. Turnips, radishes, carrots, runner and french beans, mangetout, grated horseradish, chillies, peppers and tomatoes are among my favorites.

For most basic ferments, use about two tablespoons of rough, large-grain sea salt in a litre of water, to make a 2-4% brine. A 4% brine makes a very salty pickle, which I love for cucumbers and courgettes, but use less for root veg. You can flavor the brine, too – I tend to add garlic cloves and a good pinch of each of the following: black peppercorns, coriander, mustard seed and dill seed or dill flower heads. I might throw in a chilli or two, and sometimes a few slices of onion.

To make the brine, boil the water, add the salt, then let it to cool to room temperature. In a clean flip-top Kilner jar (or fancy airlock fermentation jar), layer the chopped vegetables and spices. Once they reach the top, add the brine. I like to place a vine leaf on top: fresh vine and oak leaves release tannins that keep the pickles crisp. If I don’t have either of these, use a bit of cabbage: essentially, you want to stop the vegetables from floating to the surface and becoming exposed to the air, because this turns them into compost rather than pickles.

The brine will start to go cloudy, which is a good thing; just keep burping the jar. After a week, the pickle flavours will start to develop; after two, they’ll start to taste good. At this point, put the jar in the fridge to slow the process, and start to enjoy your ferments. Don’t store them for ever – eat them up as they become ready.

Close the jar and leave it somewhere warm in the kitchen (cold areas make slow ferments). Over the next few days, you will have to “burp” your jar as the bacteria that are starting the fermentation process build up CO2 inside.

To do this, gently tug the tab on the rubber seal, which will allow just enough gas to escape. If you can’t tug it easily, open the metal clasp while keeping pressure on the lid, then pull the seal. If you don’t burp the jar, you might find the contents escape of their own accord.
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Favorite Recipes and Tips
Visit our Cooperative's Farm to Table Pinterest Page at https://www.pinterest.com/sf2t/for a collection of favorite, fresh recipe ideas! Also follow us on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram to catch cooking demonstrations, unboxings and more.

General Storage Tips
Like you, vegetables need to breathe!
If you are storing vegetables in a plastic bag, poke holes in the bag. Allowing air to circulate around the vegetables helps them store longer.

Open the bag on your greens.
When it comes to greens - wash them right away. Pat the leaves dry, and place them on a damp paper towel. Put them in a plastic bag that's open on one end and stick them in the fridge. This will help them stay nice and crisp for later use.


Here are a a few helpful resources we found through the North Carolina Cooperative Extension on how to get the most life out of your fresh fruits and vegetables at home.

Food Storage 101
by Anne Marie Hampshire • Illustration by Bambi Edlund

Green Onions
Have you ever pulled out a bundle of green onions from the fridge only to discover they’ve gone slimy? Yeah, we’ve been there, too. Avoid this by removing the rubber bands and placing the root ends in a jar filled with an inch or two of water—then keep on the windowsill until ready to use.

Root Vegetables
Beets, carrots, turnips, parsnips and radishes, oh my! Enjoy the cool season’s bounty longer by cutting the tops off the roots (all but ½-inch) before storing in an open container in the fridge, covered with a damp towel. Store the edible, trimmed greens separately in an airtight container in the crisper.

Potatoes
If, like most of us, you lack a root cellar, store potatoes in a cool, dark place in a basket, bowl or paper bag. Remember to keep potatoes a healthy distance from onions, which can make those spuds sprout more quickly. Also be aware that light causes potatoes to turn green and sprout, and refrigeration causes the potatoes’ starch to convert to sugar and discolor while cooking.

Fresh Herbs
Some herbs—especially basil—are cold-sensitive, meaning they’ll turn black in the fridge before you can say pesto alla Genovese. To keep basil fresh, cut a bit off of the stems and place in a jar of water on the counter away from direct sunlight. Do the same for cilantro or parsley, but place those in the fridge.

Eggs
Dry-clean your fresh-from-the-coop eggs with an abrasive sponge to remove any dirt or debris, but don’t soak the eggs in water—cold water pulls bacteria from the surface of the egg into the interior. If you prefer rinsing the eggs, wait until you’re ready to use them. Rinsing removes the egg’s bloom, the natural antibacterial coating on the shell. If planning an omelet in the near future, no need to store fresh eggs in the fridge. But to keep eggs longer (up to a month or so), it’s best to refrigerate.

Bread
As counter intuitive as it may seem, bread actually gets stale faster when refrigerated rather than left at room temperature. Keep sliced sandwich bread in a bread box or other airtight container, but leave crusty, artisanal loaves in a paper bag.

Berries
Discard any bruised or moldy fruit, then store raspberries, strawberries or blueberries in a sealed container in the fridge, where they’ll last for a couple of days. (Note: Wait to wash berries until right before eating.) To keep longer, wash berries carefully, pat dry and freeze on a cookie sheet. Once frozen, transfer to a container and freeze for up to a year.

Asparagus
Wash thoroughly, remove the rubber bands, cut 1 inch off the stems and place upright in a jar filled with about an inch of water. Refrigerate and change the water frequently until ready to use. 

Cheese
Place soft cheeses, such as brie, mozzarella, goat cheeses, and chèvre in an airtight container in the fridge once opened. Wrap hard and semi-hard cheeses, such as Gouda, cheddar or blue, in parchment or wax paper first, then in aluminum foil. Store all cheeses in a warmer part of the fridge—in the vegetable drawer or on the bottom shelf.

QUICK LINKS:

Temperature and humidity requirements for specific fruits and vegetables:

http://content.ces.ncsu.edu/part-4-mixed-loads-postharvest-handling-and-cooling-of-fresh-fruits-vegetables-and-flowers-for.pdf

Harvesting and storage of garden produce at home:

http://www.extension.umn.edu/garden/yard-garden/vegetables/harvesting-and-storing-home-garden-vegetables/

Practical tips for home food storage:

http://www.edibleaustin.com/index.php/food-2/techniques/1622-food-storage-101-stash-it-or-trash-it


Quick Tips by Item
* Asparagus: stand up in a glass of cold water on the counter on in your fridge. Snap off the ends before eating. 
* Strawberries: the trick is to keep berries cold and dry. Store in fridge spread on a paper towel and don't wash until just before eating. Eat very soon!
* Tomatoes: ripe tomatoes should be kept at room temp on the counter, away from sunlight. You should only keep them in your fridge once they have fully ripened. This will help extend their life. Ripened tomatoes will usually last between 5 and 7 days in the fridge.
* Fresh Onions: Unlike a dry onion, these onions should be kept in the fridge. 
* Field Greens: Store in fridge and eat within a few days. Wash just before eating.
* Mushrooms: so they don't get soggy or moldy, place whole, unwashed mushrooms in fridge in a brown paper bag and fold the top of the bag over. 
* Cucumbers: wrap in plastic wrap or a paper towel and place in fridge. Keeping wrapped minimizes the amount of moisture on the cucumber, which slows decay. Should stay fresh for one week.
* Sugar Snap Peas: Store in fridge and eat within a few days. 
* New Potatoes: Store in a cool, dry place. Wash just before eating. 
* Fresh Bread: eat promptly or freeze for best taste, as there are no preservatives in these fresh loafs. Refrigeration will extend freshness several days.
* Kale: wrap the bunch in a layer of paper towels, and store in a plastic bag in crisper drawer of fridge. Should be in good shape for up to a week.
* Scallions: raw green onions should be stored in a plastic bag in the vegetable crisper of fridge. Usually will keep well for 1 to 2 weeks.
* Sweet potatoes: these are wonderful keepers as long as they are stored in a cool, dry place. 
*Squash and Zucchini: refrigerate zucchini and summer squash in a plastic bag for up to four days; don't wash until you are ready to use them.

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