When Farmer Eva Worden of Worden Organic Farm asked if I’d like to write a recipe and tips “column” to post on Words from Worden Farm I jumped at the chance to create a place for sharing tips and recipes to savor the harvest.
Whether you’re a new or “old” farm share member storing your vegetables is key. To me it’s respecting the hard work devoted to growing and providing the vegetables to us.
A few tips…
for your refrigerator
- Trash bottles and containers of “mystery food”
- Wash your refrigerator vegetable bins and shelves with a solution of 1 tablespoon of baking soda mixed with 1 quart of warm water.
- Reorganize your “frig” making room for your farm share.
- Veggies can be stored on any shelf in the refrigerator and not just in the bin.
- Check temperature zones. Most refrigerator temperatures are adjusted only by numbered dials so I like using a refrigerator/freezer thermometer.
- Set the temperature to fall between 32-40 degrees F keeping milk and dairy products in the coldest area. Keep in mind warm air rises and cold air falls to the bottom of the refrigerator.
Every year I learn new ways to keep my farm share fresher longer. Wrapping vegetables in clean “old” cotton dish towels instead of buying rolls of paper towels has worked well for me. Not only saving trees and money, I think dish towels are more effective absorbing moisture. I even line the vegetable bin with a clean dish towel. You’ll want a supply of about 12 towels to use and rotate thru washing from week to week. (remember not to use fabric softener)
For storage I like using assorted sizes of re-sealable plastic zip bags. The jumbo size easily stores greens and lettuces and smaller sizes for radishes, squash etc. They can be rinsed, dried and reused several times and even from season to season.
Labeling the plastic bags makes it a lot easier to find a specific vegetable in your refrigerator. Making labels with masking tape and a “sharpie” pens are quick and inexpensive.
Organizing your storage supplies before picking up your share helps get your veggies in the refrigerator more quickly.
(I’ll pass along vegetable freezing tips soon)
As soon as you get home, work with the most perishable vegetables first – lettuces and leafy vegetables. Store salad greens unwashed. Wet greens spoil quickly. I roll heads of lettuces in a clean dish towel and store in a labeled zip bag.
Storing the delicate mixed lettuces (mesclun) in a plastic bag with several sheets of paper towel (an exception to using cloth towels) will absorb more moisture. Enjoy mesclun mixes in a few days and lettuces within a week. At my house we eat a big salad for dinner the first night to really enjoy the freshness. (it’s sure been a long summer without fresh delicious salads hasn’t it!)
And…if you do not own a salad spinner now is the time to buy one! My first farm season I thought a spinner was just another useless gadget to store. Thankfully a farm intern convinced me to buy one. A salad spinner is one of the best kitchen tools I have ever bought. They are great for washing any green leafy vegetable, herbs, draining vegetables after washing them and a can be used as a serving bowl. Just make sure to buy the largest size.
Now to get you started let’s work with this week’s share and the veggies needing a little extra care. Tomatoes and avocados like to sit on your kitchen counter until ripe. Eat ripe tomatoes right away. They hate cold refrigerators. Avocados once soft to touch can be stored in the refrigerator for a few days. Wrap eggplant in a clean dish towel (do not store in a plastic bag) and since the optimum storage temperature is 50 degrees they do best on the top shelf.
Store summer squash in a perforated plastic bag in the bin or in a sealed bag lined with a clean dish towel. Remove the radish greens and store the radishes and greens separately loosely wrapped a clean cloth or paper toweling in plastic bags in the bin or in middle area of refrigerator. Store arugula, bok choy, lettuce and green onions wrapped in labeled plastic bags.
I know these steps sound time consuming but it’s worth the effort to enjoy your farm share the entire week.
Note: Worden Farm of Southwest Florida harvest season begins late mid-October to mid-April.
Arugula and Whole-Wheat Pasta
Arugula, a traditional Italian green a rich source of iron, vitamins A&C. Enjoy arugula within 3 days
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: about 10-12 minutes
1 (13.25 ounce) box whole-wheat rotini, penne or farfalle pasta
1 tablespoon of sea salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium sized onion, chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes (or 1/2 cup “cherry” tomatoes halved)
1 bunch arugula, washed and drained
freshly ground pepper
freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Bring a large pot of water to boil add sea salt. Add pasta and cook al dente. (Very important as whole-wheat pasta quickly becomes mushy when overcooked.)
In a large frying pan heat oil, saute´ onion about 3 minutes or until soft, add garlic, sun-dried (or cherry tomatoes). Continue to cook 2 minutes and add cooked pasta. Gently toss arugula with pasta and vegetables. Add a few tablespoons of pasta water if desired.
Serve with freshly grated pepper and cheese and a mixed green salad.