Last week we got another one of those “hail Mary” rains that gives you a break from irrigating but moves through quickly enough not to bring on lots of foliar diseases in the crops. This gave us some time to put down the pipe and catch up on some weeding. With so many planting and harvesting tasks each day, weeds do more than sneak up on us, they announce their presence with towering four-foot stalks and big flower heads filled with thousands of seeds ready to sow next years problems. We pass the leeks or the fall broccoli every day, see weeds flaunting their advanced stage of development, and say to ourselves, “got to get that pigweed out of there!” as the crew sets about to another round of tomato picking.
And tomato picking has become a full time occupation! Our intrepid crew has been sweating it out in the high tunnel to bring them into the barn for sorting. We’ve got a big crop of heirlooms, and have lots of firsts at the August price, along with full trays for saucing or canning available for a special price at the farm stand. Sungold cherry tomatoes are peaking and are available pick your own or already harvested. Lots of basil too, now is the time to freeze pesto for the winter. Eggplant is coming in strong, we have the classic black Italian, thin Asian varieties, super tender Rosa Bianca, and a few psychedelic purple and white varieties that we are trialing. Peppers are beginning to come in, a welcome site after last year’s wash out.
The dry weather has sweetened up some very large cantaloupes and we’ll have them for one more week, and the watermelons are just starting to come in now, right on schedule. And don’t forget to check out the flower patch! It’s a bit hidden behind the tall sunflowers but has dozens of varieties of cut flowers that are peaking now. We’ve put the flowers on sale as well to entice you to make a trip to the patch.
We hope you enjoy the farm and the harvest,
Paul, Rebecca, Lauren, and the Fort Hill Farm crew
Featured this week:
Fresh Baby Ginger: You’ve been asking and it is here! No peeling, no fibers, just pure flavor and joy! (Prices will be higher because we are pulling the crop very early… there will be plenty of ginger in the coming months at the usual price.
Summer Leeks: We’re pulling early thetasty member of the onion familythat adds that unique onion-esque but not quite onion-y flavor. We get requests for leeks every year at this time (see the grilled leek recipe below), and my, they are looking good out there! Clean carefully, as soil sometimes soil gets tucked into the leaves. (I just slice in half lengthwise and run the ends under cold water as I fan them out.) Store in the fridge for up to three weeks.
Tomatoes: Yes, we are featuring them again, because that bumper crop of heirlooms are continuing from from the high tunnel, and we will have flats of “saucing/salsa” tomatoes at the barn as long as supplies last!
And as per last week:
We are able to put our certified organic tomatoes on SALE, so those of you who want to can, freeze, or otherwise process, NOW is the time to do it. Here’s a quick way to freeze tomatoes courtesy of our friend Megan Haney up at Marble Valley Farm in Kent:
Quick & Easy Guide to Freezing Tomatoes, by Megan Haney
Cut or pare off any questionable bits
Cut tomato in half, angle knife around the core of the stem to remove tough flesh there
Hold tomato over a compost bucket and gently squeeze, to persuade some of the juice and seeds away
Throw tomatoes in zip-lock bag and freeze
When making sauce or soup in the winter, use as you would canned whole tomatoes, keeping in mind that you might want to puree them if you don’t like how the skin curls up
If your freezer space is limited… and your time less so:
Cut or pare off any questionable bits
Cut tomato in half, angle knife around the core of the stem on each half to remove tough flesh there
Throw tomato in a stockpot with sturdy bottom
Keep going until stockpot is full
Bring to boil then simmer for 6-8 hours or until desired reduction is achieved (no need to add water … juice will prevent scorching); stir once in a while
Puree tomatoes if you don’t like how the skin curls up (an immersion or wand blender is easiest)
Let cool, then pack in plastic containers (quart-sized yogurt containers, eg), leaving one inch headroom, label, freeze
salad mix, pea shoots, head lettuce, curly green and lacinato kale, rainbow chard, fresh herbs, salad turnips, Tendersweet cabbage, red cabbage, garlic, carrots and rainbow carrots, red and chioggia beets, Classic Italian and Rosa Bianca eggplant, mixed Asian and Graffiti eggplant, Red Gold potatoes, Ailsa Craig and Red Torpedo fresh onions, jalapeño, shishito, and poblano hot peppers, green bell peppers, cucumbers, zucchini, zephyr summer squash, frozen baby ginger, cantaloupe, sungold, red, and specialty cherry tomatoes, and heirloom and beefsteak tomatoes
Watermelons! Sweet peppers
Pick Your Own:
Sungold Cherry Tomatoes are OPEN while they continue to flourish! Everyone’s favorite.
Sunflowers: get them while they last
Flowers 🌸 … it’s a bonanza of color out there. ON SALE THIS WEEK!
Fresh herbs: parsley, thyme, sage, oregano, marjoram, chives. We’ve had a number of failed cilantro and dill plantings are waiting for the next to come in.
*** Just like last year, CSA members may take a small (mixed or not) PYO herb bunch for free, one bunch per share per week! Please see sample sizes in the barn.
PYO begins 30 before and goes 30 minutes beyond barn hours.
Recipes, suggested by Rebecca Batchie. For more recipes, check out the Fort Hill Farm Recipe Database
Cantaloupe Salad with Lime, Mint, and Ginger
Recipe by Charlotte Fekete
1 cantaloupe, halved, seeded, peeled
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
2 teaspoons grated lime peel
2 tablespoons sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger
2 teaspoons honey
Cut cantaloupe into 3/4- to 1-inch cubes (about 5 cups) and place in large bowl. Add lime juice, mint, and lime peel; toss to blend. Mix in sugar, ginger, and honey. Refrigerate salad until ready to serve, stirring occasionally, up to 3 hours. Yields 4 to 6 servings
Grilled Leeks With Crispy Fried Egg
From the Washington Post
FOR THE LEEKS
8 to 10 young, slender leeks
Generous 1 1/2 tablespoons plain rice vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
Generous 2 tablespoons Golden Mountain Seasoning Sauce (You can replace this with 1 T soy sauce, 1 T veg or chicken stock, and 1/8 tsp. sugar)
1 heaping teaspoon fresh peeled ginger root, grated
1 heaping teaspoon minced or grated garlic
1 heaping teaspoon finely grated shallot
Scant 2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil, plus more for brushing
1 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil
Very small pinch crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 or 2 teaspoons unsalted butter
2 large eggs, preferably farm-fresh
Freshly ground black pepper
Trim the root ends of the leeks. Fill a large container with lots of ice and cold water. Stand the leeks, dark green sides down, in the ice-water bath for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the dressings: Whisk together the rice vinegar, soy sauce, Golden Mountain Seasoning Sauce, ginger, garlic, shallot, sugar, grapeseed oil, sesame oil and crushed red pepper flakes in a medium bowl, until emulsified.
Whisk together the mustard and soy sauce in a separate medium bowl, until blended and smooth. Spoon the mustard dressing on one side of a platter large enough to hold the leeks, then use the back of the spoon or an offset knife to spread the dressing across, forming a wide base.
Lift the leeks out of the ice water and pat dry. (Drain/discard the ice water after you’ve removed the leeks, or some of the dislodged grit may get reintroduced into the leeks.) Place a large grill pan over high heat. Once it’s very hot, lightly brush it with grape seed oil, then place the leeks on it; cook for 5 to 6 minutes, turning them as needed, so they get a good char on all sides and are slightly wilted.
Use tongs to transfer the grilled leeks to the mixing bowl with the rice vinegar dressing; toss to coat thoroughly. Transfer to the platter, arranging the leeks on the mustard dressing.
Melt the butter (to taste) in a small nonstick skillet over medium heat. Gently crack in the eggs; cook just until the whites are set and their edges are crispy but the yolks are still runny. Transfer the eggs to the top of the leeks. Serve warm. Serves 2.