January Share Pickup, Fresh Spinach!, Menu for the Month

Spinach harvest at Riverland last week (happening in a similar fashion today for tomorrow’s share box). The metal hoops supported the row cover which kept the spinach protected through the deep freezes.

We’re in the green for our share tomorrow!  With the relatively mild winter and moderate snow, Riverland’s winter greens have been happy under their winter cover and are accessible to harvest right from the field today.  In case we get a February dump of snow like we did last year  when the harvest became impossible*, Rob and Meighan at Riverland are opting to keep the bird in the hand and harvest both kale and spinach, instead of saving one for next month.   So, expect extra greens this time and perhaps put some up (freezing, soups, drying into kale chips) for next month, when we may just have cabbage.

See below for the share contents and also check out Jackie Starr’s Fabulous Menu for January, customized for our share contents this Saturday, to help you plan out the 3 weeks till the next share!

*For the curious: How do our farms grow greens in the winter?  The greens you’ll get in your share box tomorrow were transplanted into the field in late August or early September, and grew to their current size in about a month and a half.  When the days get really short and the sun is closer to the horizon, the growing essentially stops.  Then it’s just a matter of protecting the crop somewhat from the deep freeze–this is accomplished with either laying a row cover over short metal hoops (“low tunnels”) right in the field, or planting into a well-ventilated unheated green house (“high tunnels”) and letting it stay there in the ground to keep fresh until it’s cut.  At harvest, the greens must not be in a frozen state or they will be mush.  So, the cover and bit of sun shining on it, ideally keep the greens in an unfrozen state as the covers get pulled back or the farmers go into the high tunnel for the afternoon harvest.  If the tunnels are completely buried in snow and no sun can get through (like last February) or the weather is super cold, then the greens will be frozen and harvest must wait till another day.  Many gardeners know that a good covering of snow over spinach or kale will keep the plant alive, yet dormant, till the spring.  If you are hoping to harvest mid-winter, however, then you’d need the cover and a bit of sun.

Enjoy the share!

Share contents for Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016:

Use or process these within a week (keeps longer if fridge is cold, near 32 degrees):
Spinach, 1# bag, can be blanched and frozen for later use.  Kale, big bag (harvest will determine actual amount), can be made into soups, marinated salads, or dry kale chips all of which will keep longer.

These will keep for many weeks in cold storage (keep moist in bag, with some ventilation, not tightly sealed):
Carrots – 6#,
Potatoes, white – 6#,
Beets – 3#,
Kohlrabi, 1—peel and slice or grate as an excellent salad or stirfry ingredient
Cabbage, 1 green—if you are making sauerkraut or kimchi, do that asap
Celeriac–mildly celery flavored root great for mashing with potatoes, roasting, or for soups and stews.  Peel and cut up.
Parsnips —
excellent for stews and soups, nicely pairs with curry flavors and ginger, also see Jackie Starr’s idea for parsnip muffins!  For the larger ones, you may want to remove the woody core and use that for making stocks (or just compost)

These will keep for many weeks in cool, dry conditions (40-55 degrees), like a shelf in your basement or unheated room as long as it doesn’t freeze:
Onions, yellow 2# (from Harlow Farms) Garlic ½ #(can also be stored in a tightly closed jar in the refrigerator)
Butternut Squash, 1 or 2–can store in your kitchen for a few weeks, cooler temps with ventilation for longer (not in a plastic bag), store in single layers/separate, not in pile.  Any with blemishes should be used right away or peel, chop and freeze.

These will keep for many months in room temperature, dry conditions (keep the dirt on and in a breathable paper bag or box:  Sweet Potatoes, 4#, Dried Herbs (rosemary and thyme)

These will keep for a year or more in dry conditions (closed jar), not too warm:
Dried beans 2# –your choice of black turtle, yellow eye, and Jacob’s Cattle          Tomato Puree, 1 jar–canned in jars, organic summer tomatoes from Riverland.  These are shelf stable so store on your pantry shelf–yum!