Top Tips To Handle Your Produce Bounty From A CSA Or Farmer’s Market
Written by: Joanne Beccarelli
It’s summer where I live and this year I am part of the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). Being in the CSA, every week I am surprised by the abundance of produce that takes my counters and fridge from full to overflowing.
This leaves me thrilled to have tons of organic produce, but also overwhelmed trying to figure out how to save, store and use everything.
The Biggest Challenge
Two large bags of mystery produce means that meals are dictated by what is plentiful and your good intentions now pose big challenges that grocery store shopping has sheltered you from.
There is no better way to dive into authentic seasonal cuisine than to follow the lead from a CSA or farmer’s market.
Quick Tips For Managing Your Bounty
1. Get a sneak peek on what will be provided each week then spend a little time researching and planning meals before you bring home your bounty. There are a few ways to be prepared rather than be surprised when you arrive for your produce.
Easiest of all is simply to ask about email alerts or newsletters from your CSA or farm. If there are none available, ask them to start one. Plus, while you are bonding with the farm help, ask about their typical crop schedules. Every farm has a good idea of harvests from early crops to the height of the summer and then on to late season yield.
2. Clean out some storage space in the refrigerator BEFORE heading out for your pickup. Knowing that you will have room for your haul when you get home will take the edge off your urge to throw your hands in the air. This is a good time to clean out and cook the older produce you still have.
Check out these “50 Homemade Vegetable Soup Recipes.” Or, whip up a batch of fresh juices, which can be frozen or enjoyed over the next several days. It’s easy, even when you are short on time: “No Time To Juice Every Day? How To Save And Store Juices.”
3. Clean and store your produce right away. As soon as you get home, wash and dry all your produce, except berries. Fill a clean sink with water and a cup of white vinegar, then systematically start rinsing – do delicate leafy greens first and end with the dirtiest potatoes. Spread a large towel on the counter and let everything dry before packing up and putting away.
Make sure that you do not refrigerate tomatoes so that they retain their texture and do not get mushy. Also consider leaving any slightly underripe fruits out at room temp. Finally, get to know which vegetables you do not need to refrigerate.
4. Always take recipes that your CSA/farmers offer. The staff and writers that support CSAs and local farming efforts are often plant-based eaters and will offer many delicious recipes as handouts or on their websites. Plus, don’t be shy about talking with everyone else picking up their produce. You might also stumble on a chef, accomplished cook or a grandma willing to offer a favorite family recipe. When all else fails, head online for recipes targeted for your CSA produce.
5. Shift your thinking about meals to the vegetables first, then let these become the stars of the meal. This is my #1 strategy for feeding a mixed group and for coaching clients into a plant-based world. Read “Mixed Eating Styles Can Dine in Harmony.” Allow the vegetable dishes to set the flavor profile of the meal and move forward from there.
Also try cooking your vegetables in many different ways such as grilling, roasting, baking, sauteing and stewing. Plus, don’t forget about raw dishes! When vegetables are used as an ‘ingredient’ in more complex dishes, interesting combinations and flavors unfold.
One of the best parts of a CSA is that you will be nudged to try new foods that you wouldn’t necessarily reach for. What’s wrong with that? Abundant, nutritionally dense foods that push your creativity, move you out of your comfort zone and call you to a place with like-minded people sounds like a perfect formula for health.
Share your thoughts, experiences, recipes and questions about CSAs or seasonal cooking in the comments below.
Joanne Beccarelli is a holistic health coach, juicing junkie, writer, soon to be cookbook author and recovered emotional eater. Inspired by many great voices in the health-thru-food revolution, Joanne found her way out of hiding in shame (losing almost 100 lbs in the process) and stepped away from the corporate world. She now dedicates every day to helping others who are overwhelmed, overworked, and overstressed, find awareness, fulfilment and better health.
Joanne has a Certificate in Plant Based Nutrition from eCornell/T. Colin Campbell Foundation, and became a Certified Health Coach through the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. She is also a member of American Association of Drugless Practitioners (AADP), and the International Association of Health Coaches (IAHC).
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