Prepping the CSA Box
It’s Never Too Late
If you know me, really know me, you know I’m not so great with time management. In the, it’s never too late to change, I’ve been trying to clock my time spent at various tasks to see where I can be more KISS, you know keep it simple sweetie (or whatever you want that last S to stand for), and part of the KISS process is figuring out where you’re leaching time. It took me like forty-five minutes to deal with last night’s Tomato Mountain CSA box, and most of that was not even spent trying to compose the odd picture shown above. Having taken all this time this AM, I thought, now, how can I capitalize on it. Might as well make a post. You’re probably been getting your CSA box for a while and have your how ways to kill 45 minutes on a new arrival. Still, I thought, it’s never too late to share a tip or two.
The first thing I do with my CSA box is figure out what I have. This process actually begins at least one day if not several days before it arrives. “What’s in this week’s box,” I’ll start asking my wife early in the week. Sometimes she knows. While we get our CSA box on Thursday night, the first set of Tomato Mountain CSA boxes goes out on Wednesday. By Thursday am, I know the rough outline of my box. My Tomato Mountain newsletter does not come until later Thursday, and the picture starts getting clearer. It is not until I open the box on Friday AM that I really know what’s included. For instance, I heard eggplant, but are that fat Sicilian style better for roasting or skinny Asian style, better for stir frys. Over the season, I’ll get both. Which will it be this week. The thrill of opening the weekly CSA box never gets old.
Assess and determine the plan of attack. Going through the CSA box, I need to figure out a few things. One, where am I going to put stuff. Two, what do I need to do to it before it goes away. This week’s box included lettuce, parsley, eggplant, tomatoes, and various alliums. The lettuce and parsley needed work. The tomatoes would go on a platter in the dining room, the eggplants would go in the basement fridge, and the onions, garlic and shallots would go in the “canning room” in a hanging basket.
It is important to know how to best keep your CSA produce, and making the decision on how to keep it depends not just on what the produce is but in what stage is the produce. For instance, lettuce keeps best in the fridge, pretty basic. Tomatoes, I’m sure you’ve heard, on the other hand, keep their flavor best at room temperature–store stem side down too. The onions, garlic and shallots, where? It depends. Summer onions, fresh onions, onions with thin skins, should be stored in the fridge. If the onions have been cured on the farm, that is set out and dried in the sun, they are better stored somewhere dry and cool. The problem in the summer is finding that spot. Our bungalow, like most bungalows, is coolest in the basement. Hence, the best spot to keep our onions. What I said also applies to shallots and garlic, which come in softer versions earlier in the season.
Do the work. Tamar would tell you do the work of your everlasting meal. Get a pot of water boiling, the oven heated for roasting. No time like the present to cook your fare. Most of do not have the whereof all to just cook now. We need to find the right moments. Like I say, with all my new found time management skills, it’s all about doing things when they need to be done. There are things that have to be done with a box and things that can be done. What had to be done with this box was air dry the lettuce and trim the parsley. Chris at Tomato Mountain used to make a big deal about how he sent his produce to his customers all dirty; that dirty produced lasted longer; that once washed, the leaves started going. I guess customers wanted cleaner vegetables. My lettuce came wet. Since I believe what Chris told me before, I air dry it before sending it to the fridge. The parsley, as I learned a while back, needs to be kept in a plastic, lidded quart container. To get said parsley in quart container, I needed to trim off the stems. If I was a better person, I would save the stems for soup. I put them in compost. Do the work that needs to be done now.
There you have it. Three easy steps to make the most of your CSA shipment. Don’t forget to unfold your box and return it to your farm. They cost a lot of money!
*The Condiment Queen works for Tomato Mountain.