Horn Farm Center for Agricultural Education

CSA Newsletter – August 14

Last week’s CSA share

The Weekly Share

Here’s what to expect in this week’s share:

  • Cantaloupe
  • Celery
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Garlic
  • Herbs – basil and purple shiso
  • Hot peppers
  • Onion
  • Potatoes
  • Scallions
  • Squash
  • Sweet peppers
  • Swiss chard
  • Tomatoes

*Due to the unpredictability of weather, pest problems, and other factors produce in the weekly shares are subject to last minute changes.

Tomato Season

Tomato season is officially here! Cherry tomatoes, paste tomatoes, slicing tomatoes, so many varieties get seen throughout a CSA season. Tomatoes are high in vitamins A, C and K as well as potassium. There are several different kinds of tomatoes you’ll see in your share – cherry, paste,  salad, and beefsteak. Any tomato is delicious raw as far as I am concerned and it’s hard for me to have too many tomato sandwiches or salads.  That being said some are better for cooking than others. Beefsteak tomato varieties are the large ones that traditionally get sliced fro sandwiches.  I also love them with a little oil salt and pepper or just mayo on their own. Paste tomatoes are oblong and are denser than other tomatoes with more flesh than liquid. As the name suggests they are great for making tomato paste and sauces. Salad tomatoes are larger than cherry tomatoes but not as big as beefsteaks, they great for salads, sandwiches or soups.  Then there are the smallest tomatoes, the cherry varieties. Nothing beats a sun warmed cherry tomato straight off the vine for flavor. Cherry tomatoes tossed in a pan with olive oil and garlic and sauteed until they burst make a great simple sauce for pasta. Tomatoes do change their flavor and texture slightly when refrigerated but they also go bad quickly in heat. In a cool dry environment they can stay out of the fridge for a few days but keep an eye on them.  I usually veer on the safe side and eat some the day I get my share and then fridge the rest.

Beefsteak varieties

Paste varieties

On the right is the denser paste variety compared to the salad tomato on the left.

Salad tomato varieties like this red zebra

Cherry tomato varieties

Let’s Talk About Herbs

I think sometimes herbs kind of become the forgotten toss-up of the CSA share, an extra we don’t always know what to do with.  Here is a list of my favorite things to do with my CSA herbs:

  • Roasting – toss fresh herbs like oregano, rosemary or sage in anything you are roasting (meat or vegetable) for extra flavor.
  • Flavor my water – honestly 9/10 times those mint sprigs make it into my water bottle and give me water some zip to get me through the work day. Bonus – the added flavor makes me more likely to drink more water
  • Mix with fruit – ok, so when the mint isn’t in my water it’s topping some of my favorite fruit. Cut into ribbons and tossed in with your favorite berries or melon, refrigerate for a couple of hours to let the flavors blend, it’s a refreshing summer treat.
  • Drying – Not all herbs retain their flavor when dried but many do. More oily herbs like rosemary, thyme, sage, and oregano are great dried. Just hang in a cool dry place to dry. Then place in a seal-able container.
  • Freezing – Lighter textured herbs like parsley and cilantro tend not to hold their flavor when dried but if you blend them with some oil and freeze them in ice cube trays they do hold their fresh flavor. Just save those ice cubes in a freezer bag for use later.
  • Marinade or salad dressing – Oil, vinegar, herbs, salt and pepper – perfect combination for roasting meat or vegetables for grilling or a dressing for your salad. Fresh herbs add a kick of extra flavor that dried herbs can’t compete with.

Purple Shiso

This week expect something new – purple shiso or perilla.  This Japanese green is herbaceous and aromatic,it’s actually considered part of the mint family It can be cooked and used in dishes like stir-fry to add a citrusy flavor. It can also be used to make tea or cut into ribbons and mixed with fruit.  I’ll be experimenting with purple shiso this week, let me know what good uses you find for it.

Connect and Share

What is your favorite part of your CSA share? If you have a recipe or picture you want to share, a trick you learned, or a question about your CSA produce please let us know at csa@hornfarmcenter.org.  Share on social media with the hashtag #HornFarmCSA.