What Is a "CSA," and How Do I Use It Up?
A "CSA" or "Community Supported Agriculture" is essentially a farm share—subscribers purchase a "share" of the farm and receive seasonal produce in exchange (totally similar to Netflix, minus the whole movie thing...). In a CSA, different fruits, vegetables, and herbs come in your share each week, and it's a fun surprise to discover what's growing in your region. You can find your local CSA using the Local Harvest database to sign up for a fall CSA.
My local CSA comes from Johnson's Backyard Garden in Austin, Texas. They sent my first box directly to my door, including a bright and happy sunflower bunch! I was so excited to find beautiful poblano peppers, carrots, pickling cucumbers, eggplants, arugula, basil, a giant cantaloupe, okra, red potatoes, and zucchini. It was a total bounty in a box, but one question remained: How do I eat everything without going on cucumber overload? Since there are only two people in my house, it took a little bit of creativity to use up all the produce before it went south. Here are a few ideas, inspired by my Johnson's Backyard Garden box, to use up produce and saving the flavor of summer.
Unpack and Plan Your Attack I took all the produce out of the box and separated it, then put what I could in the fridge. Whenever you buy herbs, you should always cut the stems and place them in fresh water, kind of like flowers. My basil perked up quite a bit in fresh water and lasted about a week.
Cut, Chop and Prep I find that if I prepare fruit, I eat it faster. Cutting up melon, washing blueberries, slicing peaches--it's a matter of taking 10 minutes to prep food when you first get it, creating more of an incentive later to eat a healthy snack instead of reaching for chips.
Store for Later Got too many vegetables? Store or freeze for later! Make simple pickles: save okra for the winter with a hot paprika brine, or even try pickling carrots and hot peppers. Flash-steam vegetables and pack in zip-top bags to store in the freezer, or make soups and stews for later.
When In Doubt, Make a Salad A big, vegetable-filled salad.
Supporting your local farm is super important to your community! Sign up for a CSA or visit your local farmers' market to purchase your produce. The produce shown in this post was provided by Johnson's Backyard Garden in Austin, TX.