Early October is when we, as farmers, most resemble squirrels. We are hustling around the farm with a heightened sense of urgency at this point in the year, working together to cache our oh-so-important winter storage crops before the weather turns. We’re digging the last of the potatoes, cleaning our cured onions, and most notably, harvesting our winter squash. These are the foods whose calories and flavors will see us deep into wintertime.
Winter squash encompasses a big family of hard-skinned squashes that come in all stripes, sizes and colors. Many folks are familiar with just a few types from the grocery store: maybe the dark green-skinned acorn squash, or perhaps a green or scarlet Kabocha squash. What most people don’t realize is that winter squash are for eating (unlike the ornamental gourds they are often confused with), and good eating they are! Their name, “winter” squash, confuses a lot of people: they don’t grow in the wintertime (we actually plant them in the field in early June and harvest in early October). Rather, the name refers to their ability to store for many months; this year’s winter squash crop will feed us well into the new year.
On the farm we grow seven different varieties of winter squash, plus a pie pumpkin. Starting next week you’ll begin to see them in your share, where they will become a staple all the way through until the last week of Harvest Baskets in December. (That’s right: there are still 9 more weeks to go in the Harvest Basket season; you will get your last tote of the season the week of December 10th). We’ll introduce you to each variety as it comes and provide cooking, eating and storage tips.
In the meantime, we are working this week to get all of those different squash into the barn. We started clipping them from the vine 2 weeks ago, putting them in windrows, and letting them “cure” in the field. This hot sunny spell has been miraculous (we couldn’t hope for more perfect weather) because in order to cure properly, winter squash need at least a week of warm, 70-ish degree, dry weather while they lie in the field. This helps their skins harden and their stems dry (which are the two keys to sealing out any entry points for molds, fungi, bacteria and other pathogens that could cause them to prematurely rot in storage).
It’s always a dicey time of year to pull it off (last year the forecast was full of rain and we had to transport all of our squash to a barn in town where we force-cured them with a heater, with mixed success), but so far so good this season. I like to think it’s the gift we get in exchange for a long, grey, wet spring and early summer….
So look for winter squash in your share NEXT week, the week of October 15th. First up: spaghetti squash!
Broccoli is Back, Plus Apples and Napa & Yellow Storage Onions!
More fall food this week, right on time:
Broccoli is back and it’s BIG. We harvested some 3-pound heads this week!
Apples! We have a better crop than we’ve had in a spate of successive bad apple years, so you’re seeing one of the many different varieties we grow on the farm. This one is lovingly named “lower driveway tree.” It’s a tree that has always grown along my mom’s driveway, and is the apple that my sister and I always associate with school lunch: as kids, as we walked down to the meet the school bus each morning in the fall, we would each grab an apple from this tree for our lunch. My sister has since grafted this variety and is growing a couple new trees of it in our young orchard. It’s sweet, crisp, disease-resistant, and a great little lunchbox size. Best stored in the fridge.
Napa Cabbage! Also known as Chinese cabbage, this is the traditional cabbage used for kimchi. It is hugely versatile, raw or stir-fried or fermented or steamed. I’d suggest pairing it with your apples for a fall twist in this recipe, adapted from epicurious.com: http://www.valleyflorafarm.com/content/apple-and-napa-cabbage-salad-spic...
Yellow Storage Onions: The onions you’re getting this week are called Copra, a long-storing yellow variety that is another of our fall/winter staples. As mentioned, at this point all of our onions have “cured,” meaning you can keep them on your countertop. It’s fine to put them in the fridge as well, but they should keep for at least a month in good storage conditions (cool, dry, dark).
New Fall Farmstand Hours: Saturdays ONLY from 10 am to 2pm
Our farmstand is now open every Saturday from 10 am to 2 pm, through November 17th! We are no longer open on Wednesdays. The autumn abundance is awesome right now, as summer crops collide with fall food: peppers, tomatoes, chard, kale, onions, potatoes, leeks, spinach, salad mix, melons, apples, beets, carrots, zucchini, herbs, and much more.
Cranky Baby Hot Sauce: Put some spice in you life!
Handcrafted at the farm with homegrown hot peppers that are vine-ripened to a sassy red in her greenhouses, this Tabasco-like hot sauce strikes the perfect balance between hot, sweet and tangy. Makes a great gift, or a standby condiment in your own kitchen (we go through it by the gallon!).
Available by the bottle, half case, or case:
- $5/bottle (5 oz)
- $27/half case (6 bottles)
- $48/case (12 bottles)
To order, please email us your: name, pickup location, and the quantity of bottles you would like. We will deliver to your pickup site.
In your share this week:
- Yellow onions
- Napa Cabbage
- Head Lettuce
- Sweet Peppers
- Red potatoes
- Tomatoes – Red Slicers
This means that some pickup locations will receive it this week, others next week – or in a future week.
- Cherry Tomatoes
The Valley Flora Crystal Ball: What MIGHT be in your Share Next week
Remember, no promises!
- Red Torpedo Onions
- Head Lettuce
- Sweet and/or hot Peppers
- Spaghetti squash
Please note: all of our produce is field-rinsed, not washed. We recommend you wash all of your produce before eating it.
For recipes and ideas, check out these links:
Our own collection of recipes, where you can contribute and share your favorites
Our website’s recipe “search engine,” where you can hunt down recipes by ingredient
A vast collection of recipes, searchable by one or multiple ingredients
A storehouse of recipes, searchable by ingredient
A Washington farm that has a good collection of seasonal recipes