Friday, July 20, 2012

CSA Basket Survival Tips

If you get are a supporter of local farm and receive a weekly or bi-weekly basket of vegetables, you know all too well how overwhelming it can be.  Sure it's all good to think about how you are helping a local farmer and feeding your family fresh & healthy food, but when you drag that basket into your house the fun ends.  You need to find a way to cram all those veggies in your kitchen and make sure you do it properly in order to prevent spoilage and loss of nutritional value.  After two seasons of supporting my local CSA, I've come up with some ways to make it easier to deal with the arrival my farm baskets.

Tip #1:  Clean out your fridge.  The morning before my farm basket arrives, I clean out the fridge.  I remove all the old leftovers and veggies we didn't eat.  I'm proud to say that, as we get better at learning about preserving our vegetables, we are throwing out less and less.  If you have some wilted herbs that can't be used for cooking, throw them in some water and let them soak for a few days.  Then spray your plants with the water.  Any leftover nutrients in the plants will leech into the water and, in turn, feed your plants.  I also compost, so many of the vegetables that don't make it go in our bin.  I feel like I'm wasting less that way.

Tip #2:  Keep your schedule clear.  Pick-up your basket at the same time each week and make sure you leave an hour or two open after you pick-up.  You can leisurely deal with your basket and preserving processes.

Tip #3: Have good supplies in your kitchen.  Vegetable brushes and salad spinners will help you clean the dirt from your vegetables.  (Yes dirt!  See how wonderful it is to get veggies from the farm rather than grocery?  Talk about fresh.)  You will also want to have large freezer bags, canning jars in various sizes, and paper towels for storage needs.

Tip #4:  Keep your computer or smart phone handy.  When I come across a vegetable in my basket that I'm unfamiliar with, I Google it and learn the best way to store it.  At first, I was using this method for every food I received, but I promise you will get the hang of it after a few weeks.

Tip #5:  Don't cook dinner.  Seriously.  I can't pick my basket up until 3:30pm.  By the time I get home, clean the vegetables, and deal with storing them (sometimes I even have to cook some in order to save them right away), the last thing I want to do is cook a big meal.  I always menu plan around that day.  This week we made rice and beans the day before so all I had to do was heat them up.  Of course, we also had a delicious, fresh salad with it!  (But if you know you are going to have salad, make sure you pre-make the dressing.)

These are just a few ways I'm surviving and enjoying our CSA baskets.  Do you get farm baskets?  What are your tips for dealing with your deliveries?

If you don't know about CSA baskets or are interested in supporting your local farm, visit Local Harvest's website   At our house we support this farm.