CSA Notes Extended Week 2

In your share Extended Week 2:

 Carrots
Onion
Yacon
Fennel
Pepper
Kale
Cilantro
Lettuce
Brussels Sprouts (Trillium) or Salad Mix (Farm and PC)

Rain, rain, rain this week!  I’m sure many of you have breathed a sigh of relief, as we got over 10 inches in the last week at the farm.  The river has risen higher than it has in almost a year, and I expect the salmon are on their way.  With that much rain that quickly, we did have a few spots of erosion in the field, but for the most part our cover crop did its job.  Most of the erosion happened in mole tunnels that allowed the water to build up speed on its way through the field.

There’s a new crop today, which is probably a new vegetable for most of you.  It is yacon (pronounced yah-CONE), a member of the sunflower family from the Andes.

This is the tuberous vegetable that looks like a sweet potato, oblong with dark skin.  We like to eat it raw, and it is sweet, tender, mild flavored, and juicy.  Think of jicama or even a cucumber.  We most often slice it up and eat it plain as a refreshing snack or side dish.  I like the flavor of the skin (it’s earthy and somewhat bitter), but you may prefer it peeled.  It will brown soon after cutting, you can toss it with a bit of lemon juice to keep it white.  It can also be cooked, though we love it’s crunchy texture so much that we never do.  We hear it’s excellent juiced, but we haven’t tried it yet.  Store it in the fridge in a plastic bag, it will dry out and soften if left on the counter for long.  One thing worth noting is that yacon’s sweetness is from inulin, which makes it extremely low in calories and a better choice for diabetics.

This is a crop that Mike has been excited about for years.  It grows like a weed here and lacks pests or diseases.  We grew a few plants last year, and got several pounds of tubers from each plant.  We then overwintered the crowns, split them in the spring, and grew the plants all summer.  They were probably the healthiest plants on the farm, around 7 feet tall and completely unblemished.  Mike finally went to dig them up a couple weeks ago, and we were shocked to collect 20 pounds of tubers per plant!  The largest plant had 25 pounds, making it one of the highest yielding crops we have.  After harvest, the tubers were cured in the greenhouse to sweeten them.  Now we have the first ones ready to eat, and you should expect to see it again.

Other than yacon, I don’t think there’s anything unfamiliar in the share this week.  There’s more excellent cilantro, which is really thriving in the cooler temperatures of the last couple weeks.  It’s always surprising to me that even though cilantro is a key ingredient in many cuisines from hot climates, it seems to grow best in cooler weather.  The fennel was a bit of a surprise: these are actually heads that regrew from plants I cut earlier in the season and never tilled in.  They got huge, as well as being extra tender in the cool weather.  They’d probably make a great salad with yacon.

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