In This Small Kitchen: Help! We Joined a CSA!

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On a whim and a tip from Tim of New York Pizza Project, we just signed up for a half share of a nearby CSA. In a little more than a month, we’ll be making biweekly trips to pick up organic vegetables trucked to Brooklyn from upstate New York. Suddenly, instead of choosing to cook with chard or kale, we’re going to be dreaming up ways to get through what I assume will be an unimaginable surplus of greens.

My family belonged to a CSA for a little while when I was in high school. I remember carrying such an abundance of apples home one fall day that they escaped from the bag and rolled down the driveway in a dozen different directions, making me curse those apples instead of cherish them. So while I love fresh produce (and sometimes feel like I don’t get enough of it) and adore making improvisational meals from whatever food happens to be around, I have to say, I’m terrified for the cornucopia of produce that’s going to be overflowing on our kitchen counters soon.

So, tell me, have you ever belonged to a CSA? Do you have tips for getting through the growing season without overdosing or getting frustrated with the yield? I can’t wait to hear, and of course I’ll be sharing the recipes that result from our half-share harvest.

P.S. How to appreciate the spring fruits and veggies that are already (or almost) here.

  • Tori @gather_living

    I can’t wait to hear some ideas! I joined a CSA last month and am overwhelmed by lettuce. I know it’s a good thing to be eating a lot of salads and stuffing mounds of lettuce into pitas, on top of pizzas, and stacked on top of every patty you can imagine. I’m also rolling in citrus since I live in Southern California. Not a problem for a lot of people and the lemons I get through really quickly but the oranges and blood oranges prove a challenge as I don’t love them just to eat. My use so far is for salad dressings and marinades. Before the fruit goes bad, my goal is to get it all squeezed into ice cube trays and frozen for later defrosting for more marinades/dressings but also as ice cubes for sangria and other cocktails!

    • http://www.biggirlssmallkitchen.com/ BGSK

      I’m just picturing you swimming in a pool of lettuce – did I get that image right?

      • Tori @gather_living

        absolutely. I’m rolling in green!

  • crisduh

    I just signed up for a CSA, as well! It starts in June. I am super excited and a little nervous. I’m so happy to see that you’ll be sharing your experience with us.

    • http://www.biggirlssmallkitchen.com/ BGSK

      Exactly! Half excited, half nervous. Can’t wait to hear how yours goes.

  • http://twitter.com/lisaathome215 Lisa

    Funny, I just wrote about this recently! a CSA is tough but so amazing. We participate in a year-round CSA and love it… my only complaint is the amount of herbs I get so I suppose I need to get better at freezing/drying doing something with them!

    https://lisaathome.wordpress.com/2013/04/23/making-your-csa-work-nyt-health-slaw/

    • http://www.biggirlssmallkitchen.com/ BGSK

      I’ll go check out your post! And look into freezing/drying herbs.

  • Katie

    I love being in a CSA! It’s introduced me to vegetables I’d never tried and now love: turnips, sunchokes, garlic greens, etc. It forces me to be mindful of seasonal cooking/eating and to try new things (when I might just fall back on classics). Having turnip risotto for the first time was mindblowing, and I would never have done it without my CSA. :)

    • http://www.biggirlssmallkitchen.com/ BGSK

      Mmm, turnip risotto!

  • http://profiles.google.com/elizabethwcrew Elizabeth Crew

    My friends and I just signed up for one as well; here in New England, they don’t start until June, but we’re already thinking about what to do with the bounty. I’m hoping to learn a few things about canning and preserving.

    • http://www.biggirlssmallkitchen.com/ BGSK

      Yes! Pickling will probably be a good option for excess vegetables. You’ll have to share updates once deliveries start.

  • cupcakemuffin

    I belong to a CSA. It took me a while to get into the right rhythm of it…definitely makes you re-think the way you cook. But, after a few months it is much easier/more natural to do meal-planning around what comes in the box. One resource that helps is “Eat Your Books” where you can enter in your cookbooks and then search them all by ingredient, and another is having a solid collection of fruit-and-veggie focused cookbooks. I have especially used Nigel Slater’s Tender as a great resource (his chocolate beet cake = incredible!).

    Another thing I really like about the particular CSA we get, which you might look into with yours, is the ability to exclude foods that you know you don’t like/won’t use. Even though I’m not a picky eater, there are certain things I just know I’m not going to use up, like bunches and bunches of radishes. (I like radishes fine, but don’t need enough to eat them 3x a week.) If you have this option, use it – has definitely led to a lot less food waste for us.

    • http://www.biggirlssmallkitchen.com/ BGSK

      I see what you mean about their being a rhythm–seems that’ll definitely help avoid waste. I’ll also check in with the CSA about excluding foods. Three bunches of radishes does seem excessive!

  • Kat

    you are right about being up to your eyeballs in greens! here in the nw, that’s all we got for months :) one thing that got me through our CSA season was the cookbook “Simply in Season” which is split up by ingredients, so you can find just the recipe for whatever mystery ingredient showed up that week, whether it be garlic scapes or kohlrabi.

    • http://www.biggirlssmallkitchen.com/ BGSK

      That’s a great tip. (By the way, I love garlic scapes – hope I get lots!)

  • Ellie

    I joined a csa where I live in Israel and it had totally opened me up to the local style of eating. Because in Israel you can only get produce that is in season, traditional foods were built around the seasons. It has led to a lot if Internet recipe searches and a lot of healthier veggie-based eating. Also the farm we get our vegetables from has the best corn I have ever tasted. I can’t wait for the summer!

  • Catherine

    My family did a CSA share for a couple of summers and we ended up doing lots of sauteed greens and other veggies with poached eggs on top or non-traditional pestos using arugula or garlic scapes that could be frozen for later!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1074450145 Loren Guerin

    I used to work at a CSA and take my biweekly basket as well. Definitely start experimenting with canning, pickling, and freezing. Also ask the people running your CSA…trust me those people have a deep love and appreciation of food and what they’ve grown and its exactly what they are eating so they’ll have great recipe ideas and storage techniques

  • http://www.foxeslovelemons.com/ Lori @ Foxes Love Lemons

    Oh, you’re going to have so much fun! I subscribed to a CSA a few years back, and I loved it. One trick that I had just involved scheduling my grocery runs around the CSA box. For example, I picked up the box on Tuesday evenings. Instead of trying to bring it home and immediately start using it, my husband and I just went out to dinner on Tuesday. After dinner, I would come home and start making a plan for how to use all the produce. Then, I would stop by the grocery store on Wednesday to get any missing ingredients I needed for meals using the produce, and I was all set for the week! This REALLY helped!

    • http://www.biggirlssmallkitchen.com/ BGSK

      This sounds like a perfect routine – thanks for sharing! You’re making me even more excited for our first delivery.

      • http://www.foxeslovelemons.com/ Lori @ Foxes Love Lemons

        Oh, and I’m sure you’re aware of this, but if you get any berries, they will be ULTRA perishable! Just eat those for dessert the night you get them :)

  • Katelyn Buress

    I joined one for the first time too! Looking forward to learning together!

  • http://twitter.com/melhicken Melanie Hicken

    I also just signed up for a CSA so I’m excited for some inspiration!

  • Hezra

    I belong to a seasonal CSA at beautiful Appleton Farms in Ipswich Ma. I go to the farm once a week and pick up the harvest and am able to select what I want to fill my bag, unless they specify a limit on a certain veggie. If I want only arugula and garlic scapes to make a big batch of spicy pesto, no problem. A suggestion: If folks are looking to find CSAs in their area there is a iPhone app out there called Local Pickins, that can help locate farms stands, CSAs, farmers markets, pastured meats, etc. Worth checking out.

  • Trish

    We’ve been getting a CSA bin for about 3 years now. It’s incredibly rewarding in the late spring through fall, but man is winter tough to get through. The greatest tip I can give is to wash and store everything well the day you get your bin. Sometimes we get lazy about it, and we wake up to wilted greens in just a few days. Also, I make a smoothie with what we have left the night before we get our new bin. Dark greens and all! Super delish.
    Trish

    http://www.jellybonesblog.blogspot.com

  • Peeve

    I joined my first CSA this spring. I call it ‘Veggie Christmas’! Yes, the greens do get a little overwhelming, but I found a Lettuce and Garlic Scrape Soup on the Serious Eats website that uses up 3 bags of lettuce if you’ve gotten sick of salads. It’s been fun discovering Rainbow Chard and Kohlrabi, things I’ve never eaten before. I’m also very lucky–I work for my county government, and there are so many of us in the CSA that the farm delivers our shares weekly to our building. Then I go back to my office, and we all ooh and ah over what’s in the crate. I’ve been giving a lot away, but also making new recipes and bringing back some for people to try at work. It’s been fun, so far. Can’t wait for tomatoes and eggplant!

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