Week 15

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Good day all,

Another beautiful week on the farm.  I can’t remember a season when this late into September was so sweet and comfortable.  Its been nice having such a warm fall, especially since we had such a cold late spring.  That being said, this will likely be the last week of tomatoes for most, if not all, members.

Despite no frost coming to take their fragile lives, the cooler temps of the past several weeks have taken their tole on the plants and fruit.  Without warm evenings, the plants tend to stop flowering and fruiting new tomatoes, and even when they do, the cold nights tend to compromise the integrity of the fruits.

So enjoy them while you can!  We’ve sent out tomato’s favorite herbs, basil or oregano, this week to make the most of their last appearance.  I know we will be eating BLTs all week long!

In the box this week:

Squash: Kabocha Sunshine or Red Kuri
Onions
Cucumber
Tomatoes
Salad Turnips
Lettuce or Spinach
Peppers
Hot Pepper: Hungarian Hot Wax
Purple Basil or Oregano
Eggplant (Full and Medium)
Cauliflower or Carrots (Full and Medium)
Melon (Full)
 
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Inside the back of the truck during harvest
 

Salad turnips are back and are as sweet and crunchy as ever!  Toss them with your spinach or lettuce or slice them up with some salt for a little snack.

The squashes this week are two of my favorites.  They are both varients of the Cucurbita maxima group of squash.  I am particularly fond of this family (which also includes the popular buttercup (not to be confused with the even more popular butternut)).  They have a very sweet and dry orange flesh, and a thicker skin that is generally good for eating.  I also find the density of their size and shape very appealing, not to mention these two varieties’ gorgeous deep orange color.

A lot can be told about a squash just by its stem.  Most of the squashes in the Cucurbita maxima family have a very thick yet airy stem.  Last week’s squash, Carnival, is part of the Cucurbita pepo family and has a stem that is ribbed, thin and hard and often twists, similar to the stems of what we usually consider pumpkins (which are also in the Cucurbita pepo family–as well as all the summer squashes/zucchini you enjoyed this year).  As winter squashes, pepos usually have a body with pronounced ridges and a flesh that is thinner but moister than the maximas.    The most famous of the squashes, Butternut, belongs to neither of these species, it is a Cucurbita moschata (if you ever buy pumpkin puree in a can it is most likely a moschata).  Knowing what the different stems look like can often give you a pretty good clue as to what the flesh of the squash will be like (but not all the time, of course).

All squashes are believed to have originated in Mesoamerica.  Despite coming from the Americas, Kabocha and Kuri have only over the last two decades begun to be widely available in the United States.  Both are very popular in Japan and were originally grown here on the west coast for the sole purpose of importing to the island nation.   Excess that did not get sold to Japan starting showing up in markets in California and soon gained enough popularity that the varieties were grown for local consumption as well.

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These two squash have a similar flavor and look.  Kobacha (on the left) is stout and boxier, while Kuri (on right) is generally more of a pear shape.  Kuri’s name is the same as the Japanese word for chestnut, likely suggestive of its flavor.  My favorite way of cooking them is simply slicing them in half, removing the seeds and setting on a sheet pan (insides up or down depending on how dry you want the flesh) and roasting for 30-50 minutes at about 425 degrees (until you can easily slide a fork through the meat).  From there the insides can be scooped out and eaten plain, mixed with a little butter, milk, or water for desired texture.  Add a little salt, brown sugar, or maple syrup for flavor.  Soups, gnocchi, pies and other endless variations can be had from there!

Enjoy!

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