CSA Food Storage tips…

Reposted from: alliesanswers.com
Posted on April 2, 2008 by Allie


When we talked about joining a CSA a few weeks ago, The Modern Gal, and Mickey asked about ways to make local produce last all year long.

CSA’s are notorious for providing more veggies than any small family could possibly eat in a week, and it doesn’t feel good to let food go to waste. I learned a lot last year, and plan to approach my weekly bag with gusto this year.

When you get your bag, examine what you have and plan out your meals for the week based on how long everything will keep. Use up what won’t store well first.

Wash and cut up lettuce and store in a container in the fridge. Wash and cut up veggies you will snack on. If they’re easy to eat, you’re more likely to use them up. Juicing is a great way to use up a lot of veggies and add nutrients and fiber to your diet.

Think about what you’ll be able to freeze and what form is best. Here’s a good guide for food storage.

Eggplant freezes really well if you make it into eggplant parm. You can cut it into meal-sized squares and have easy microwave meals in late fall. Make zucchini soup. Bake zucchini bread or carrot cake. We had a bumper crop of zucchini this year, and my husband is still enjoying zucchini muffins (even though lots of people think they only freezes well for a few weeks). If you don’t feel like baking that week, shred and freeze instead. You can thaw what you’ve shredded to use for baking later.

Chili freezes well. Make a big batch in your crockpot. Add fresh tomatoes, peppers, onions, potatoes, even spinach. It’ll make a great hearty winter meal.

Blanche green beans and freeze on a cookie sheet. Once frozen, you can bag them and store in the freezer.

Winter squashes store well in a cool dry place, but you can also bake them, scrape out the insides and freeze them all mashed up.

Potatoes, yams, and onions also last a long time in a cool dry place. We made sweet potato fries last week from sweet potatoes that had been sitting in our pantry since last fall and they tasted great. When you buy them at the grocery store, they’ve been in someone else’s storage space for just as long (and probably traveled a long way to get to you).

We have a freezer in the basement, so there’s lots of room to store frozen food. If that’s not an option for you, consider using a dehydrator. You can dry berries to add to your morning cereal, make your own “sun dried” tomatoes to sprinkle on salads and top pizzas, onion powder to flavor soups. Beets, and other root vegetables can be dried into veggie chips, (Dianne did this in her oven a few months ago).

I’m not brave enough to get into canning food yet, but here’s a great tutorial if you are.

I think the most important part of food storage is acting fast. Don’t wait until the end of the week and then try to freeze what you haven’t used. Plan and store before things wilt, brown and loose nutrients. Remember that if your CSA is organic, the vegetables you’re getting don’t have the same preservative coatings and waxes as the veggies you may be used to getting at the grocery store. This is great for your health and the health of the environment, but it means that some foods will have a shorter shelf life.

Storing CSA veggies isn’t as convenient as buying a bag of frozen peas at the grocery store, but it’s a great way to reduce your food miles, eat affordable organic food, and preserve the nutrients that are often lost when food travels great distances to get to you.

If you can’t eat or store all of your veggies, share. I’m not a big fan of yellow summer squash, but a good friend of mine was thrilled when I dropped them off. My neighbor took on zucchini. And this year, I’m planning to drop off some of our surplus at a local organization that makes meals for local kids in need. Our CSA would be a bargain at twice the price, so passing the food we can’t use on to others is easy to do.

Oh, and I probably shouldn’t admit this, but when we got a lot of bok choy (not my favorite) one week last year, I added it to the CSA bag sitting next to mine at the pick up spot. Hopefully, they enjoyed it.

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