Since we aren’t particularly focusing on one crop this week, I though I would just write a little bit about what is going on in my kitchen with our crops.
Right now we are seeing curly leaf kale added into our mix, and don’t you love it? The flat leaf kale is easy to fold over and slice out the stem if you don’t care for it, but the curly leaf is even easier. Just run your fingers down the stem and watch all the leaf fall away around you. My kale gets a wash and then a chop up and goes straight to the freezer. I would hope that some of you have tried the recipes I’ve shared here of the kale variety, but the truth is mine never makes it to the pan. I like my fruit and greens smoothies in the morning and these kale bits make for a healthy start. The best thing is that if you properly dry the kale leaves with paper towel or a dish towel, you can simple pop the chopped leaves into a bread or English muffin wrapper and tie it off to pull out later. Great way to reuse those bags!
The herbs have arrived. Dill and cilantro are making an appearance. I love the dill with the beans we’ve been getting. If you aren’t using your herbs right away you can always save them for later. There are a couple of ways to do this. If you think you are going to use them the same week, place them in a baggie or small container with a bit of paper towel and set in the refrigerator. I put mine in the butter compartment so they don’t get lost. The bit of paper will help soak up any moisture that remains. If you want to save them a little longer term, you have a couple of options.
You can air dry your herbs, choosing bunches with only about 5-10 stems each, this allows for air circulation. Remove the lower leaves and tie together, hanging them somewhere in the house that is warm, dry and dark. Ideally you would like the temperature to be around 68 degrees. The herbs can hang anywhere from 1-3 weeks, you can check them by rubbing a bit to see if they are dry and crumbly. Once dried you want to remove the stems and woody pieces and store the leaves in spice jars or recycled bottles. (It’s all about recycling here too).
The other method is to freeze the herbs. This method is good for softer herbs such as basil, tarragon, parsley and chives. Just like my kale, you can wash and pat dry your herb leaves and place them in a bag in the freezer. These should last about three months. If you want a little longer lasting herb, you can blanch your herbs in hot water, move straight to ice-cold water, pat dry and store for up to six months. The truth is, herbs don’t last that long around here, and really do you want to blanch and ice that many? I guess if you had a bumper crop! The last freezer method (and my favorite) is to freeze one-third chopped herbs to two-thirds water and freeze in ice-cube trays. Pop out the cubes once frozen and store them in the freezer. Basil and olive oil works well with this method!
Lastly, don’t forget all these green tops you are getting are edible. Radish greens, carrot greens, beet greens. If you have rabbits, my goodness, they would love these treats, but we lost ours last year and so now we are looking at ways to incorporate our tops into our meals. Add them to salads, sautéed vegetables or soups, or just about any green tops can make a pesto for sauces and soups. All you need for pesto is a bit of oil, a bit of nuts and perhaps lemon, garlic or parmesan. Here are a few ideas….carrot top pesto, radish greens pesto and an all-purpose collection of recipes for all three crops and their tops at White on Rice.
That’s it for this week. More crops next week friends!