Monday, August 3, 2015

Letter from John Krueger

Hello Everyone, 

We had 2 rain events this past week; the first dropped 0.7 of an inch and the second 0.3”, so we received the 1 inch per week that is ideal. Both came just as I was about to head out on my seeding tractor to do some planting, so the timing was less than perfect, but hey, we need the rain. The second storm came with a gorgeous double rainbow, so that was adequate compensation for my frustration with not being able to seed. The heat wave will break soon, so all in all the weather continues to be copacetic.

Summer is officially in full swing this week with the arrival of the tomatoes. There will be just a few in the shares for this round but the quantities will be increasing steadily in the coming weeks. We will also offer a choice of cherry tomatoes or Ground cherries, aka goldenberries or Cape gooseberries. For you new folks, these are members of the solaneceous family; cousins of the tomatillo with a similar paper husk. Slip the fruit out of it’s wrapper and eat out of hand or add to salads. They are quite sweet and have a nutty and pineapple like flavor. They make great snacks for kids and keep well without refrigeration. Melons have begun to ripen but not in huge quantities just yet. I expect we will begin shipping them next week. We will be taking a break from beans and summer squash for a few weeks until the next crop begins to come in. I was delayed in making the second planting by all the rainy weather in June. There are a lot of eggplant hanging on the plants but we will take a pause to let them size up. We will send a few as extras this week along with tomatillos, hot peppers and some kale.

I have promising/ forewarning that cabbage would be the only brassica in the shares during the mid-summer weeks. And indeed there will be some fairly large heads of savoy cabbage this week, so make room in the fridge! But we have some purple cauliflower that has been stubbornly refusing to head up and is now ready, as well as some orange cauliflower and some beautiful broccoli. We believe we will have enough for everyone over the next two weeks. Tatsoi will be the green of the week and we are back to beets in the root category. In honor of the arrival of the tomatoes the herb will be basil.

The share for this week will be: potatoes, yellow onions, tatsoi, peppers, savoy cabbage, cucumbers, lettuce, beets, tomatoes, choice of ground cherries or cherry tomatoes, broccoli or cauliflower and basil.

Enjoy! 
 Farmer John

Friday, July 31, 2015

Plums 101

The plum tree is a deciduous tree belonging to the rose family (Rosacea) and the plum fruit is from the Genus Prunus which includes almonds, apricots, cherries, and peaches. Being a diverse group of species this medium sized fruit can range from 1 to 3 inches in diameter. The fruit itself is firm and juicy. The fruits peel is smooth with a natural waxy surface that coats the flesh. The plum is a stone fruit or drupe where the outer fleshy part of the fruit surrounds the shell (or pit, stone or pyrene). The taste of a plum ranges from sweet to tart but the skin tends to be tart. Plums do not sweeten after being picked but they will soften. When plums are dried they become a prune. Over 2,000 varieties of plums exist and over 100 are available in the United States. There are six general categories which include Japanese (which originated in China), American, Damson, Ornamental, Wild and European/Garden. Plums come in a wide variety of colors and sizes. The skins range in color from red, purple, blue-black, green, yellow or amber with flesh that can be yellow, white, green, orange, pink or red. For more information about different plum varietals go here and to this page by Cooking Light. Plum season is typically May to October. Top plum producers in 2013 included China, Serbia, Romania, Chile followed by Turkey.

Plums may have been one of the first fruits domesticated by humans and the remains have been found in Neolithic age archeological sites along with olives, grapes and figs. Here are some interesting facts from the folks at Michigan Plum Growers. Plums have a rich heritage in many cultures. Pflaumenkuchen (Pflaumen=plums, kuchen=cake), or shortened form Plumkuchen is a longtime traditional dessert in German-Jewish families. Plum dessert is a traditional part of the Jewish holiday Rosh Hashanah. Tzimmes is a traditional Jewish sweet stew with vegetables and dried plums. Prunes are a frequent ingredient in North African and Norwegian cuisine. Plum filling is popular in Danish pastries in the U.S. and elsewhere. The terms “Christmas pudding” and “plum pudding” were often considered to be the same in Victorian times, although Christmas puddings were often made with raisins or dried currants, and not plums. A true plum pudding contains plums. Sugar plums candy also generally contained raisins or currents and not plums, and of various colors, but were shaped to look like a plum with a wire to serve as the stem for hanging on a Christmas tree. If you want to take a stab at making your own sugar plums here is Alton Browns version. For more interesting facts about plums check out this page.

Plums are recommended for first time gardeners. If you want to learn more about planting your own plum tree read this interesting article by Farmers Almanac. For more information about plums go here.

To Store

Store plums at room temperature but check them frequently as they are highly perishable. A ripe plum will yield when pressed gently. You can speed up the ripening process by storing plums in a paper bag at room temperature and away from the sunlight. Ripe plums can be store in the crisper drawer to prolong their eating life, about 3 to 5 days. According to Fresh Direct, stone fruit takes well to freezing. First, peel the fruit: drop into boiling water for 30 seconds, plunge into cool water, then remove the skins. Slice open and remove the pits, which can impart bitterness to the fruit during freezing. Place in an airtight container and they will last for up to a year. Rolling stone fruit in sugar before freezing helps to preserve the shape. Here are some other ideas about storing plums from wikihow.com

To Nourish

Prunes are high in Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Copper, Fiber and Potassium. Among the health benefits is significant antioxidant protection from phenols, improved Iron absorption and additional antioxidant protection from Vitamin C. Plums normalize blood sugar levels and assist with weight loss. Fiber in both plums and prunes lends itself to regularity, lower cholesterol and intestinal protection. For more information about the health benefits of plums go here.

To Prepare

Plums can be eaten raw, added to salads or as an accompaniment to a cheese platter. They can be made into drinks and sauces. Preserved by pickling or made into chutney or jams. They are wonderful grilled and cooked (dried or fresh) as they work well with most proteins. And of course baked in desserts plums are a winner.

The best way to cut your plums in preparation for eating and cooking, use a sharp knife, cut in half following the line of the dimple, then gently grip each half and twist apart. Pull out the stone/pit or ease out with the tip of the knife, then chop or slice the flesh. The skin is edible, but if you want to eat them raw but skinned, drop them into into boiling water for around 15 or so seconds, then plunge them immediately into cold water. The skin should come away easily. Alternatively, if you're cooking them, skin them afterwards. Here are 15 creative ways to prepare your plums from brit.co and 10 things to do when you have too many plums from thekitchn.com.


To Try

A must-have for anyone who is passionate about baking, these Gobel Tinned Steel Tart Pans have removable bottoms for easy release. Various sizes available. Made in France. (Sur-la-Table, $10-14)


















Thursday, July 30, 2015

This Week's Shares -- Friday, July 31 (Sampling Event, Teas Share Deadline, Volunteer Day at Circle Brook)


Vegetables

Lettuce
Summer squash
Cucumbers
Beans
Garlic
Choice of kale or beet greens
Peppers
Yellow potatoes
Rainbow carrots
Choice of herb

Fruit
TBD Most likely Peaches and Plums

Poultry
Full and Half Shares

Eggs

Pasta

Sampling Event, Tea Share, and Farm Volunteer Day

Sweet Jane Granola Sampling Event

At pick up this Friday, July 31 from 12 - 2 PM, Local Millburn Township resident Jane Weiman will be sampling her homemade, all-natural granola that contain protein from the many types of raw seeds and raw nuts. Sweet Jane Granola is handmade in small batches to maintain freshness and quality control and most importantly, made without preservatives! If you are already a fan of Sweet Jane Granola, you can order online at pick up this Friday or you can order at pick-up for home delivery. Go to www.sweetjanesgranola.com to order.

Tea Share

If you are interested in purchasing the Tea Share, deadline is tomorrow.  Please email us ASAP. For more details on the teas share click here.

Volunteer Day at Circle Brook Farm

Onion Harvest -- This Sunday, August 2, is a volunteer day at Circle Brook Farm. Help John Krueger with harvesting onions at the farm. Please email John if you plan on attending. (kruegerjohn@earthlink.net). Farm is located at 141 Brighton Rd. Andover, NJ. To find out about more farm events, click here.