This week has been one of the hottest ones to date! Other than a flash storm that blew through today, we’ve had high humidity and temperatures in the 90’s all week. We’ve also started to irrigate our plants regularly, now that the deluge of rain has passed. It has been nice to see so many of you at in our U-Pick fields, and we hope you continue to take advantage of this opportunity. U-Pick crops are listed below “What’s In Your Share.”
Note from an Apprentice
By David Smith
My name is David Smith. Unlike all the other apprentices, I am not a student at the University of Kentucky. I am actually a sophomore at Asbury University, which is a small private Christian school in Wilmore just 15mi away from the UK campus, where I major in biology and recreation. The only class that Asbury offers related to sustainable agriculture is a 1 credit hour class, called Mission Farm, which focuses on giving students a starting point for incorporating small scale farming in reaching national and international communities. Because of my interest in sustainable agriculture, I have repeatedly taken this class for three semesters in a row, and now I am a part of an internship with the class, which involves helping organize the class and the work on the mission farm garden.
Sometimes I wonder why I decided to go to a private school, where I’m paying thousands of dollars, rather than going to UK where I had a full ride in scholarships and I could major in sustainable agriculture. Although there were several reasons I decided to go to Asbury instead of UK, one of the main reasons was so that I could take part in developing the mission farm class. Fortunately, through several connections, I knew about the apprenticeship at UK. By taking the apprenticeship, I am able to incorporate what I learn at the organic farm with Asbury’s Mission Farm, and it has helped me realize that sustainable agriculture is an area that I enjoy and can use all around the world to help people provide for their physical needs.
As I am taking the class at UK I am getting increasingly excited about starting new projects and trying different techniques, but one of the best aspects of the apprenticeship is the people I get to work with. I am especially inspired by the commitment of the full time staff. They recognize the importance of getting a job done well. The biggest thing I can take back to Asbury and the Mission Farm, even more than information and skills, is that commitment.
What’s In Your Share
For July 18th, you’ll find:
+ 8 Squash/Zucchini
+ 9 Cucumbers
+ 1 bunch Green Onions
+ 1/2 lb. Green Beans
+ 4 lbs. Tomatoes
+ 1 bag of Basil
+ 1 Eggplant OR Cabbage
+ 2 Celery
The following crops are available for U-Pick:
+ Okra (You want to cut the okra pods when they are 3″ or less, if you find a larger okra pod, do everyone a favor by cutting if off the plant to encourage more pods to grow.)
+ Basil (Note: basil is located in a different field, down the grassway and on your left. Pinch off the tops of the plants to encourage more growth.)
+ Herbs (These plants are still young, but feel free to cut a bit off, they will continue to grow)
All of the ripe cherry tomatoes were picked, but more should ripen in another week or so.
+ The Celery in the shares this week may look different from what you’re used to seeing in a store. This variety of Celery is best cooked or used in stock.
+ There are several varieties of Squash to choose from. The “Y-Star” patty pan squash which was featured last week and again this week is a summer squash. The patty pans are all the same variety, despite having different colors; amount of green varies depending on heat stress. Use Patty Pan squash as you would a yellow summer squash. There is also a unique golden zucchini called “Golden Glory” — don’t be alarmed that it is actually yellow instead of green!
+ There are a few varieties of Cucumbers in the share. The smaller white cucumbers are called “Boothby Blondes.” They are an heirloom variety with lots of seeds and a delicate sweetness.
+ Be sure to check your Basil when you get home. If it is wet, let it dry before storing it to preserve its quality.
+ This is the first harvest of Eggplant. More eggplant will come next week, along with peppers, at last!
Submitted by Cheryl Kastanowski
7 cups thinly sliced cucumbers
2 cups sugar
1 cup sliced onions
1 cup red vinegar
1 tablespoon celery seed
1 tablespoon of canning salt
Combine all ingredients together in a gallon jar, place in Refrigerator, will keep until gone!
Can add more slices to mixture.
Grilled Chicken with Gazpacho
Submitted by Cheryl Kastanowski
1 garlic clove, minced and mashed to a paste with 1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil plus additional for brushing the chicken
2 tablespoons water
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin, or to taste
Tabasco to taste
1 slice type white bread,, torn into pieces
2 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped fine
1/2 cup finely chopped, seeded and peeled cucumber
1/3 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh coriander or parsley
1 whole boneless chicken breast with skin
(about 1 pound), halved
In a blender blend together the garlic paste, the vinegar, 2 tablespoons of the oil, the water, the cumin, the Tabasco, the bread, half the tomatoes and salt and pepper to taste until the mixture is smooth, transfer the mixture to a bowl, and stir in the remaining tomatoes, the cucumber, the bell pepper, the onion, and the coriander or parsley.
Brush the chicken with the additional oil, season it with salt and pepper, and grill it on a rack set 5 to 6 inches over glowing coals, or in a hot well-seasoned ridged grill pan, covered, over moderately high heat, for 5 minutes on each side, or until it is cooked through. Cut the chicken on the diagonal into 1/4-inch-thick slices and serve it with the salsa.
Yield: 2 servings
Via Michael Pollan
For those with an adventurous spirit — try your hand at fermentation with the last of your cabbage!
Active time: 1 hour
Total time: 1-2 weeks
4 pounds cabbage (or a mixture of mostly cabbage, plus fruits and vegetables, such as apples, onions, daikon radish, carrots)
6–8 teaspoons fine sea salt Spices (1½ teaspoons juniper berries, 1 tablespoon coriander seeds, or 1 tablespoon caraway seeds for Old World kraut, or whatever spices and quantities you like)
One (½- to 1-gallon) wide-mouthed glass or ceramic container fitted with a lid, or two to three 1-quart containers, or a sauerkraut crock
Thinly chop or shred the cabbage into roughly ¼-inch thick slices and place in a very large bowl or tub. Shredding the cabbage on a mandoline gives the best result. If using other fruits and vegetables, slice them to about the same thickness as the cabbage and add to the bowl. For odd-shaped vegetables like carrots, using a thick box grater is easiest. The rougher the cut, the better as more surface area is exposed to the salt.
Add the salt (1½ to 2 teaspoons per pound of cabbage mixture) to the cabbage mixture, mixing it into the shredded leaves with your hands, squeezing the cabbage and pounding on the mixture as you go. (It’s best to start by adding 1 teaspoon of fine sea salt per pound and then adding another half or whole teaspoon extra per pound if needed.) Within several minutes, the salt will begin drawing water from the cabbage leaves. Continue to squeeze, bruise, or pound the cabbage to speed up the process. You can also place a weight on the mixture to drive out liquid.
Wait until the vegetables are dripping wet, like a sopping sponge. Taste the cabbage. It should taste salted but not salty. If it’s too salty, add more shredded cabbage or briefly rinse with water to remove. If it’s not salty enough, or not wet enough, add a little more salt. Add the spices, if using, and toss. Pack the mixture tightly in a glass jar or crock fitted with a lid that can hold at least 8 cups, making sure all the air is squeezed out and the vegetables are completely submerged in their liquid. (If you don’t have a large container, use two or three smaller containers, about 1 quart each in volume.) There should be at least 3 inches between the packed cabbage and the top of the jar. Push the vegetables down tightly using your fist. They should be covered in their liquid. Before sealing the jar, either weight the vegetables down with a small ceramic or glass jar or insert something nonreactive between the lid and the vegetables to keep them submerged in the liquid: a plastic bag filled with stones or PingPong balls works well or lay a large cabbage, fig, or grape leaf over the shredded cabbage and weight that down with clean stones or other heavy nonreactive objects. There should be enough liquid to cover, but if not add a little water. (Cabbages can lose cell water depending on growing and storage conditions.) Any vegetables exposed to the air will rot. If surface molds form, scrape them away and remove discolored sauerkraut. The kraut may smell funky, like a gym locker, but it shouldn’t smell rotten.
For the first few days, store at room temperature, ideally between 65°F and 75°F, then move to a cooler location, such as a basement. That’s it: The mixture will ferment on its own; the necessary microbes are already present on the leaves. If you’re making kraut in a sealed glass container, make sure to release the pressure every few days, especially the fi rst couple of days, when bubbling will be most active. In a mason jar, you’ll know pressure is building when the metal top begins to bulge; open just enough to release the gas and reseal. Those old-timey glass crocks with the hinged tops held in place by a metal clasp work well since they will release pressure along their rubber gasket. Easiest of all is a ceramic crock designed for making sauerkraut. Available online in various sizes, these crocks have a water lock that releases bubbles of gas while keeping air out. If at any point water seeps out of the jar during fermentation and the cabbage mixture is not fully submerged in liquid, dissolve ½ teaspoon of fine sea salt in a cup of water. Add enough brine to keep the sauerkraut submerged in liquid.
How long before the kraut is ready? It depends—on the ambient temperature, the amount of salt used, and the local population of microbes. Taste it after a week, then two weeks, and then weekly after that. When the level of sourness and crunchiness is to your liking, move your kraut to the refrigerator to put the breaks on the fermentation.