It is distribution day. You arrive at the CSA. The parking lot is filling up and there is excitement in the air. Perhaps there is a produce tasting table or a freshly made salad with key ingredients from the distribution. Bonus points if there is a recipe or two available for all of that fresh produce. You excited pick up all of the bundles of kale, beans, beets, arugula, basil, dill, peas, and lettuce. Once everything is safely stowed away, you head for home.
Now home, you stare at all of that fresh produce sitting on your kitchen counter. Wow. That is a lot of fresh produce. Frantically, your mind begins to race… just how are you going to use all of it before it spoils? Do you really want to make a dinner salad for the 15th night in a row? Just how can you handle all of that produce before the next distribution? Do you give some to neighbors? Feed some to your chickens? Or do you just eat a big bowl of mixed vegetables with a sprinkling of fresh herbs?
Don’t worry. You are not a freak. It is a lot of produce. But with some smart planning and a willingness to preserve in small batches, you can easy use all of the produce before it spoils.
10 Ways to Use CSA Produce
- Mince herbs finely and mix in good olive oil. Freeze in cubes, then package in large bags and keep in the freezer. This is a great way to use herbs all year-long. Simply toss a cube (or two) into sautéed vegetables, sauce, or roasted meats/vegetables.
- Dehydrate herbs for later use. Herbs can easily be dried in a dehydrator, in an oven placed on the lowest setting, or tied into a bundle and hung up to dry. Once they are completely dry, crush the leaves and store in an airtight container away from direct sunlight.
- Root vegetables can be roasted with a little olive oil and a few grinds of pepper and a sprinkling of salt. Once roasted, the root vegetables can be diced and frozen or canned (pressure cooker). Other vegetables, such as tomatoes can be processed in a water bath canner.
- Tender vegetables such as peas can be blanched, strained to dry, then placed in the freezer.
- Greens such as arugula make a wonderful pesto. Thoroughly blend the greens with olive oil, salt and pepper to taste as well as a handful of nuts, such as walnuts. Freeze pesto in small containers or cubes. Once the cubes are frozen, place in freezer bags.
- Make a mixed vegetable soup. Enjoy your soup and then freeze leftovers to enjoy later in the year.
- Finely mince herbs and use in baked goods such as cornbread, rolls, bagels, English Muffins, and loaves of bread. Your baked goods will take on a lovely seasonal flavor.
- Juicer. Yes, use some of that lovely produce in the form of juice. The peppery bite of arugula can be tamed with the sweetness of beets, peas, carrots, or other sweet vegetables.
- Plan meals with a starch (such as pasta, potatoes, rice, etc…) Vegetables can easily be worked into starch dishes (risotto with spring peas is excellent).
- Make egg dishes such as omelets, frittatas, or quiches. sautéed vegetables are great additions to egg dishes.
Fresh produce is a wonderful thing. CSAs offer such variety and is picked at the peak of flavor. While eating fresh can be the most enjoyable, it can sometimes be difficult to use a large quantity of produce before it spoils. So set aside some space in your freezer, be prepared to do some dehydrating, and get out your canner. Your fresh bounty can be preserved allowing you to enjoy it later in the year without anything going to waste.