Week 4: June 14-21

Our CSA finally feels like it’s in full swing.  This week we received broccoli, mizuna, red leaf lettuce, bok choy, arugula, sugar snap peas, and radishes.   

We finally started to save for winter.  One bunch of broccoli and one bunch of mizuna went into the freezer.  Both vegetables require the same steps. 

  • First you clean them very well.  For broccoli, there’s enough risk of insects that it’s recommended that the broccoli soak for half an hour in well-salted water, which should kill any insects and make them float to the surface.  I was glad not to find any floating bugs after saline-soaking my broccoli. 
  • Next, the vegetables get trimmed.  Of course the ends come off.  The broccoli stems needed peeling because the skin was so tough.  Mizuna leaves that were already decaying got tossed into compost.  The idea is pretty simple:  if you want to preserve food, remove any with over-active food-decaying enzymes. 
  • Cut the vegetables up.  Pieces should be evenly sized for even cooking.  How big you cut them depends on the recipes you plan to use them in later.  It’s all about planning ahead. 
  • Blanch the vegetables.  This involves submerging them in boiling water for anywhere from 1 to 5 minutes depending on the thickness of the vegetables.  My mizuna got 1 minute.  My broccoli (florets and sliced-and-quartered stems) got 3 minutes, which might have been more than it needed.  (Putting Food By and The Cook’s Companion both give times for different vegetables.)  The decay-causing enzymes in the very center have to get cooked and stop working.  I blanch vegetables using a deep-fry basket in a big saucepan.  The deep-fry basket has a handle.  Before I got it, I used a metal colander (again, lowered into a saucepan), and had to hold the colander with tongs.  It’s also possible to put the vegetables directly into the saucepan, and then use a colander to drain them when they’re done.  The drawback to that method is that you can’t then use the same hot water for multiple batches of vegetables.
  • As soon as the veggies are blanched, they get shocked: submerged in an ice-water bath to stop the cooking process.  I use another metal saucepan for the ice-water, since it can handle the temperature extremes and the rapid temperature change.  The ice bath is for the same length of time as the blanching. 
  • Shake off excess water.  Pack into storage containers.  We packed the broccoli in an old yogurt tub, and the mizuna in a ziplock bag, which we freeze flat to reduce clumping and make thawing and cooking easier. 

Freezing a couple bunches of vegetables still left us plenty to eat fresh. 

We at the sugar snap peas raw. 

The lettuce and arugula became a series of salads.  What remained of last week’s romaine went in, too.  Red leaf lettuce seems to go slimy fastest, of all the lettuce varieties.  Romaine lasts unusually long.  Baby lettuces go slimy faster than full-grown, possibly because they need to be kept bagged, while the full-grown ones have their own head structure to keep them together. 

I made spicy peanut-sesame noodles and mixed in one of the bunches of bok choy (raw).  Cold grain-based salads are some of my favorite lunches.  I learned the hard way that the bok choy should get mixed with the noodles before the dressing is poured on.  I make my own dressing, using the blender to mix peanut butter, sesame oil, rice vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and chili oil.

I stir-fried mizuna and some of the broccoli (from the bunch that wasn’t blanched and frozen), along with tofu, in Japanese seasonings: soy sauce, rice vinegar, ginger, garlic, and wasabi.  It’s a combination I figured out myself the first year in the CSA, just from being told that mizuna (then totally unfamilar to me) is also called Japanese mustard greens. 

Another stir-fry was Chinese style, flavored with hoisin sauce, soy sauce, ginger, and garlic.  It involved the other bunch of bok choy, the rest of the broccoli, the radish greens, and some garlic scapes from the farmers market. 

My farmers market treat this week was a quart of fresh strawberries.  Massachusetts strawberries are smaller than grocery store ones, but red all the way through and oh so sweet and flavorful!  Of course, you get what you pay for.

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One Response to “Week 4: June 14-21”

  1. Freezing Greens « Veg Year Says:

    […] excellent, sometimes they’re stringy).  I gave general directions for freezing stuff last year, but I think it’s time to give directions more specific to greens.  If you really want to […]

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