In This Week’s Beet Box:
- New Produce of the Week: Brussels sprouts, Delicata squash, Reine des Glaces lettuce
- Reminiscent of Spring: Pac choi, Hakurei turnips & mizuna
- Tamales This Week!
- Waiting on the Broccoli: Racing Persephone
In your share this week:
- Yellow onions
- Brussels sprouts
- Pac choi
- Reine des Glaces lettuce
- Yellow Finn Potatoes
- Hakurei turnips
- Green peppers
- Delicata winter squash
This means that some pickup sites will receive it this week; others next week or in a future week.
- Romanesco cauliflower
NEW PRODUCE OF THE WEEK
Brussels sprouts: So begins our fall season of the weird, the gnarly, and the Dr. Seussian: Brussels sprouts on the stalk! I imagine there will be some bartering going on at drop sites this week, for Brussels sprouts are one of those iconic love it or hate it foods, right in there with beets. I know for a fact that Valley Flora Brussels sprouts have made converts out of some staunch detesters in the past, so you might think twice before giving them away.
There are some great recipes on our website if you need to be convinced:
Or do a simply roasting: clean up your sprouts, cut them in half, toss them with olive oil and salt, and roast in the oven at 400 until the edges are browned.
The reason that some Brussels sprout haters actually like our sprouts probably has to do with the fact that we don’t harvest them until late fall when they’ll have the best flavor. Cold weather, and particularly a frost, will bring up the sugars in all Brassica plants (kale, collards, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, etc.), reducing their bitterness (aka, the “stanky gym sock” flavor). The sugars act like cellular antifreeze to help the plants survive the winter, so as they sense cold temperatures they actually pump out more sugar and sweeten up. We usually hope for our first light frost on the farm at the beginning of November. We got it last week, right on time, so the sweetening is underway out in the field.
The vast majority of the Brussels sprouts in the U.S. are grown on the central coast of California where temperatures rarely drop to freezing. As a result, store-bought, out-of-season Brussels sprouts do in fact taste like old gym socks. I wouldn’t eat those things either!
Kitchen tip: Brussels sprouts do take a little patience. The lower sprouts usually need to be cleaned up, and they will store the best if you snap all the sprouts off the stalk and keep them in the fridge in a plastic bag. They have a great shelf life – like little cabbages – and will keep for a few weeks at least (longer if they’re cleaned and then stored).
Delicata Squash: The number one favorite winter squash, it’s here. You’ll get it two more times this season, so no need to hoard. Their flavor is exquisite, but part of the reason they are so great has to do with how easy they are to prepare: Just cut them in half, scoop out the seeds, and bake face down in a pan with a little water until soft (20-30 minutes). I like to eat them with a pat of butter melted in the middle. You can eat the skin as well.
Reine des Glaces Head Lettuce: The name aptly translates to “Queen of the Ice.” This is as close to an iceberg lettuce as we grow, but with a spiky, punk rock spin. It has all the juicy crunch of iceberg, and holds up just as well under a bleu cheese dressing. We did it up last night in wedge style, with sliced peppers and a homemade, creamy feta dressing. No need to be ashamed at how much you’ll enjoy it. I mean, hey, if 80s style is back (so soon?), why not iceberg?
Reminiscent of Spring: The return of some old friends
Hakurei turnips, mizuna, and pac choi are all making a showing in your share this week, not seen since early summer. The cool weather of fall is ideal for these crops, so they make a second appearance as reliable bookends to the season.
Tamales This Week!
Tamale shares go out this week. Look for your labeled share in the marked blue cooler at your pickup site.
Waiting on the Broccoli: Racing Persephone
Our broccoli and Romanesco cauliflower plantings have been excruciatingly slow to mature this fall. The autumn broccoli harvest would normally be over by now, and the Romanesco should have appeared in your totes two weeks ago. But for some reason, they are only just now starting to head up to harvestable size. I wasted some of October worrying that they wouldn’t get there in time, but it’s looking hopeful now.
Why the worry? This week we’re entering what’s known as the “Persephone Period,” the winter months when there is less than 10 hours of light each day. That’s the point when plants pretty much stop growing (including the broccoli and Romanesco, so I've been hoping they'll mature before the days get too short). It lasts until the end of January, at which point the days start getting longer and there is a sudden jump in growth again. We have a great visual indicator of the Persephone Period on the farm: our kale plants. We harvest kale all year long. During the spring, summer, and early fall it grows back every week, fully replenishing itself. But from now through the end of the Harvest Basket season, we will be taking money out of the bank, so to speak. The leaves won’t re-grow and by the middle of December our kale plants will look like naked sticks with a small tuft of tiny leaves at the growing tip (you’ll notice in the coming weeks that the kale leaves in your share are smaller and smaller, and they will be packed by the pound instead of by the bunch).
The plants will stand naked through January like this, and then suddenly at the start of February they will send up new leaves, size up old leaves, and be bushy once again. We’ll emerge from the Persephone Period, kale leaves a-blazing, and start having to mow our lawn again.
The Valley Flora Crystal Ball: What MIGHT be in your share NEXT week…
No promises, but your tote might include some of the following:
- Winter Sweet Winter 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