Easy spring recipie of Fava Bean and Radish.Read More
The 2016 Field To Fork CSA program is Full! If you would like to be added to the wait list please email us at: http://email@example.com
We want to Thank everyone who is joining us for the 2016 CSA (community supported agriculture) program. Whether you buy organic and local for your health, the health of your community, or the health of the planet, today we're commending you! Let's continue to inspire and challenge each other to do everything we can to make this a healthier place to live.
The farm has been coming to life and the farm crew has been working hard! The first planting of broccoli, kale and cabbage has been planted. The onion field has been planted. We planted 400 peach trees. The first salad bed succession is planted with our amazing heirloom lettuce, carrots, radish, beets and more. The green house is keeping all our summer transplants safe from our variable Colorado spring weather. Many warm loving plants are thriving and we are anxious to get them in the garden soon. The rain we are expecting this week is fantastic and helps give us some more time to continue setting up our irrigation. So far we are on target with the 2016 farm plan. The only set back we have had lately is the amount of wind that we have all been enduring. Despite some of the set back from the weather we are having a great spring. The fruit trees are full of fruit and the veggies are sprouting. We are looking forward to filling your fridge with local, organic fruit and veggies, see you soon!
GET INVOLVED - WORK OR VOLUNTEER AT FTF!
We've got lots of opportunities to get involved at the farm right now.
Work Trade Member: Interested in trying your hand out working at the farm? This is a one day a week Monday-Friday commitment for the entire season. We're looking for hard workers who can commit, love organic food, and work well in a team environment. Some of the duties will include helping us wash, sort, process and pack vegetables for our CSA program! Candidates should be dedicated, timely and ready to jump right in to a bustling local farm. Also looking for artists to help with signs.
Volunteer! We need fresh energy on the farm through out the season please email if you have time to volunteer.
Spring is quickly approaching and we are very busy on the farm planting seeds, ordering seeds and growing plants in the greenhouse. The fruit trees are prunned and the vegetable fields are being disked and prepared with compost for the future crops we will be planting very soon. We feel so fortunate to have choosen this life of growing high quality nutrient dense food for our local community of Mesa County. We love the friends we have made over the years who have participated in our CSA program and have watched us change and grow. Most of our original CSA members are still standing tall right next to us and some of these key members are people we confide in. One member once said to us after we bought the farm and land we now grow on, "We miss riding our bikes or walking to your house and picking up our CSA in your driveway but the food is way better now."
In todays society the one stop shop has become the norm. And we all know the tricks the stores play on us to buy stuff we dont need. Vegetables and meat are usually what pulls us to the store and then we leave with more then we planned. I love going to the grocery store in the summer I love walking right past the produce stand and purchasing the other neccessaties we need for the week. I dont like the check out point of the grocery store. Food prices are increasing and I dont know where my money is going. Joining a CSA is so much more then a value of fresh produce. Everytime you buy something you are voting and I hope you consider what vote you are making each week as you are checking out. This topic is deeply rooted for small farms and the hardest hurdel farms deal with. Our competators are powerful and as consumers we have a resposibilty to make a choice. One way to speak up is to ask your local store to carry more local foods. In Mesa County we dont have a independant grocery store that supports small farms. The small grocer has a big impact on small farms and a crucial point in what keeps small farms operating.
Many of our long time supporters are avid gardeners which I always find interesting and they love the CSA because they can still recieve the weekly bounty and not have to thin out their gardens to fast. They still have the enjoyment of gardening and can really maintain and grow full mature plants. If you have ever grown a vegetable garden it can be a bit expensive and time consuming. Seeds, soil, plants irrigation and more quickly add up. Many times our customers are inspred to grow a garden and by the time the spring season approaches houndreds and even thousands of dollars are invested in a garden. In our spring share everyweek we offer plants as part of the CSA share to help encourage the members to grow a small garden or a few plants at home. We enjoy providing heirloom tomatoe plants and basil plants to the members who support us. Many times someone who felt they did not have a green thumb found enjoyment and success in the garden after talking with us or spending a season with the CSA. We have also seen and heard members encouraged to grow a garden and come to us in the middle of the season saying they made to many mistakes and will leave the growing to us.
Farming and gardening can be a gamble and many times we are crossing our fingers the outcome is greater then the risk. I feel this is how CSA's become such a benefit to each and every household we touch. Together we are growing a farm and every year we get better and sustain so much more then a pocket book. If you love fresh greens and cherries in the spring and watermelon, tomaotes, peaches and sweet corn in the summer as well as carrots, apples and pears in the fall the Field To Fork CSA will fit into your lifestyle. If you grow a beautiful garden and love the benefits of gardening in your life and know that many weeks your garden is short what you love our CSA will definantly fit into your lifestyle. If you are an adventurous cook who likes connecting with new and freh ingredients as well as share cooking techniques we hope to see you at our farm!
Please check our current gallery and web site for more information.
On the farm we are gearing up for the 2016 growing season and as I'm sure you can guess this is our slowest time of the year. We can use some help and would love the opportunity to have you join our CSA program. Your early support helps the farm with purchase of seeds, greenhouse supplies, tractor and equipment repairs and improvements. Below are a few encouraging reasons to gift a share for the holidays. The gift that really does keep giving! Support local economy local agriculture and support your own personal health.
As a CSA member, you know that you’re eating healthier. As a good friend or family member, you know you want the best health for your loved ones. It’s an easy call. Plus, a CSA share is less expensive than a treadmill!
It Lasts All Year Long
Whether munching crisp greens in springtime or roasting hearty squash in the fall, they’ll remember your thoughtfulness all through the seasons.
Fresh food just tastes better and there is nothing fresher than something picked and eaten soon after. As a bonus, you'll probably get invited to a few good meals, yourself.
It Supports Local Business
Buying local helps your community’s economy and the environment. Plus, maybe your gift recipient will make some new friends and connections they never would have without joining.
It Has No Wasteful Packaging or Clutter
Besides maybe some corn and tomatillos, there won’t be anything to unwrap with this gift. No one will get stressed out by having more “stuff” around the house, either.
It Keeps You Connected
Give someone a CSA share and you can pretty much guarantee you’ll be hearing from them. Whether it’s sharing recipes, asking for advice, or telling you how much the kids love those kale chips, it gives you a chance each week to stay a part of their lives.
Thank you, thank you, and thank you to everyone who came out to the farm Sunday for our annual Hoedown. I must say I think this was the best celebration yet! I know the reason I enjoyed it so much was because we hosted the event with so many of our close friends and CSA members. I loved that many of the crops were still growing for everyone to see the food in the fields. I had a blast and really enjoyed the time we all shared.
What do they say in farming? You reap what you sow! For this Hoedown we timed it so all the food prepared was directly from the farm we used only a few special items and those items consisted of lunch box peppers grown by Blain at Blains Tomatoes. We found some local sweet corn grown around the corner and local pinto beans produced in Fruita. All other items on the menu were grown at Field To Fork. This year all our hard work really paid off and we enjoyed sharing all the bounty our farm has to offer. I also want to thank the musicians for making this a fun celebration. The music was fantastic. Great job, GJ Wild Strings and We Speak Imaginese and friends!
Thank you Chefs! We are so fortunate to have a few relationships with local Chefs. Farmers and chefs make great friends and we both need each other to sustain our livelihoods. It is easy for chefs to buy products from the large food delivery trucks. I know they like the consistancy of the larger distribution. It takes a big commitment for a chef to turn away from the normal routing and build a relationship with a farm and its farmers. Local restaurants have it just as hard with stiff competition and need to stand out from the chain type restaurants. This gives local restaurants the edge in being able to highlight or feature specials with farm fresh ingredients.
We are a small farm and mainly a CSA so we don’t have much to offer for large distribution all of our crops are purchased in the spring by community members who join our farm. Together we are building a farm. At Field To Fork we grow specialty ingredients and have been lucky enough to meet some chefs in Mesa County who really want fresh food for taste and quality. In turn this helps the bottom line of the farm and the restaurant. A few of the wonderful local restaurant owners and talented chefs who enjoy our produce helped make this years Hoedown really stand out and I am thankful for our relationship. To me CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) is many things including working with other local businesses that want or support farm fresh food. It does not make sense for a restaurant to buy a CSA share for the restaurant but when we have an excess of a certain crop the support of the restaurant helps our farm as well as reduce waste. This is very beneficial in many ways.
On Sunday the menu started with Matt Chauser from High Lonesome Ranch he opened the event with his “Canapés in the Canopies” he used all farm produce and took us on a whimsical dance through the orchard of taste and surprise. Each taste was hung in a small vessel, which was a surprise of flavor in each bite. “We wanted to hang the “Canapés in the Canopies” of the orchard so the actual act of picking the fruit was mimicked” Matt explained”.
Local restaurant 626 on Rood created a wonderful Panzanella salad using fresh apples, baby butternut squash and fresh greens from the farm. They too wanted to capture the season of a classic fresh modern fall dish. Farm Chef Griff Chiono prepared the fire roasted pigs, old fashion sauerkraut, local pinto beans with Blains fire roasted sweet peppers, quinoa, fire roasted sweet corn and fresh raw salads. We had a selection of sauces including a farm seracha made with black garlic, fresh tomato salsa, and for the veggies a blood plum vinaigrette.
The Apple crisps prepared by Chez Lena pastry chef Beth Branscum were fantastic! The pie contest was so much fun and the pie entries were outstanding! The food, the company, the weather everything was out of this world!! We could not be happier and thankful the food we grew on the farm was prepared with such respect and honor. The main ingredient we enjoyed on Sunday was heart and soul. We all put our best foot forward and felt very accomplished as we watched the Harvest/Blood moon phase into a lunar eclipse. At that moment we all literally put our Hoes Down and our feet up. This was such a special day on the farm!
All photos were taken by our CSA members at Hoptocopter Films.
Where is the event?
Field To Fork Farm 3526 Front Street Palisade Co
How much does it cost?
$30 for Adults $5 for kids includues beverages and food
When does it start?
Starts at 3pm and ends at 8pm
What is the event about?
The Hoedown is a celebration of local chefs sourcing from local farms – Chefs will prepare samplings for folks to enjoy.
Do I need to buy a ticket in advance?
Yes, this helps us plan and prepare enough food for everyone.
Do I need to bring a Pie?
No, but if you want a chance to win local prizes it does not hurt to try.
Will there be live music?
Yes! The band, GJ Wild Strings & We speak Imaginies
What can I bring?
Blankets, lawn chairs, sunblock, and bug spray
What can’t I bring?
dogs, outside food and drinks, weapons, and illegal drugs
Will you accept credits cards?
Yes. Both credit cards and cash will be accepted. All tickets are availble at www.Fieldtoforkcsa.com please call for questions.
Can I purchase tickets day of?
Yes, we will have a few tickets available a the door but come early.
$35 day of for adults $5 kids
What is the refund policy?
All purchases are non-refundable
What happens if it rains?
Rain or shine we will be prepared for the best and the worst!
We are honored to introduce writer and blogger Hannah Wilson to our blog Hannah has taken the time to capture our latest farm dinner and current growing season in words. We are so appreciative of her time and talent and she has become a great addition to our farm!
Thank You Hannah! xxoo Field To Fork
Tuck a seed into the earth, settle it in a womb of soil, watch over it, care for it, water it, sing to it. With the proper nurturance, it will grow into something delectable—a sweet tomato, earthy beet, or a juicy peach. What you have nurtured, the plant you’ve watched over, will nurture you in return.
Scott and Jessica Washkowiak, the owners of Field to Fork, believe in nurturing the land. Their passion is evident in their treatment and knowledge of the plethora of plants they grow. When I went to the farm to harvest peaches earlier this summer, music lilted from Scott’s truck.
“When you’re harvesting peaches, you need classical music,” he said. “Harvesting peaches is a real art.” In the Washkowiaks’ hands, the earth is encouraged to make its own raw art—vegetables and fruit whose cells have absorbed the trills and arpeggios of arias.
On Saturday, August 22, the Washkowiaks’ farm became the canvas for a more polished, practiced art. A long table was set in the furrows of a quiet corner of the peach orchard. The fruity floral aroma of peaches drifted on the breeze. Mt. Garfield and the Bookcliffs stretched in the distance. The table was set for thirty guests who would partake in a nine course tasting menu prepared by accomplished local chef, Griffith Chiono.
After studying at the Art Institute of Colorado, Chiono worked in a number of restaurants in Colorado and the Pacific Northwest. Chiono most recently held a brief post as Sous Chef at the High Lonesome Ranch in DeBeque, and he worked as Bin 707 Foodbar’s Chef de Cuisine for about three years.
The farm dinner was Chiono’s debut as Executive Chef. It was also the culmination of weeks of working at the farm. He had a hand in planting and harvesting some of the very produce featured in the dinner. He’s become acquainted with the plants, and with the devotion and care the Washkowiaks pour into them.
“Working with Scott and Jess was incredible. They were really encouraging, and they’re really good at what they do. Their product is great,” Chiono said.
Chiono envisioned the meal and its execution—a process which apparently “just happens” for someone who actually has talent and skill in the kitchen. Beth Branscum, Clint Schaefers, and Craig Dobson, also accomplished chefs and friends of Chiono, rallied to realize the execution of the meal.
The fresh produce on the farm, of course, guided the menu, which was printed on the back of a card of Jessica’s design:
Tomato Field to fork heirloom tomatoes, fresh basil, crispy opal basil, homemade farmer’s cheese, aged balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, and maldon salt. Greens Mixed baby head greens, sweet pepper puree, roasted tomato powder, confit garlic, citrus vinaigrette and crispy veggie strings. Beets Confit beets, lemon chevre puree, cured orange peel, micro mustard greens. Carrots Poached heirloom carrots, tallow béarnaise, sunflower shoots, nasturtium flowers, rosemary salt. Eggplant Caramelized eggplant jam, roasted eggplant, homemade ricotta, crispy pearl onion rings, parmesan cream, herb flowers. Lamb Grilled apple and big jim merguez, confit potatoes, smoky artichoke puree, tobacco salt, cilantro curls, coriander seeds. Beef Braised brisket, toasted rosemary sprigs, sautéed sweet corn and pickled garlic, crispy herb, flower petal confetti, carrot demi, coriander flowers. Melon Homemade melon soda, with lemon mint ice cubes and rhubarb curls. Peaches and Cream Vanilla bean crème anglaise, marinated cookie crusted peaches, tart peach puree, plum powder, and cardamom cookie crumbs.
“I wanted to showcase the produce Scott and Jess grow, and show off skill in plating. I didn’t want to over-process the produce,” Chiono said.
The farm’s packing shed housed a makeshift kitchen for the evening. Here, for the first course, tomatoes were deftly sliced, stacked on planks of reclaimed farm wood, and paired with a few choice accoutrements. No further processing was required to create a stunning riff on caprese salad.
Chiono prepares the dinner's first course
The first course of the meal, featuring tomatoes and fresh herbs from the farm.
Even outside the context of their dishes, each element was honed. Raw garlic sings a wild, pungent tune.
“When you cook it confit, which just means “with fat,” it takes that bite out of the garlic,” Chiono said as he placed a clove on a salad of fresh mixed greens. Chiono’s confit garlic was recognizably garlicky, but its ditty was softer, sweeter.
With each course that emerged from the kitchen, the aria was still audible in the produce. It had simply been enhanced by Chiono’s handling. The trills were crisper, the harmonies more textured. As the meal reached a crescendo, growing in complexity and richness, even the sunset intensified. Its red glow, bent by the branches of peach trees, was visible from the table in the orchard.
Guests enjoy the farm dinner with the Washkowiaks' dog, Ella, nearby.
At the meal’s end, a chilled peach, crusted with crunchy cookie crumbs, was placed before each guest. The scent of the sweet breeze that surrounded them all evening had been gingerly scooped into a bowl. It was layered with harmony, a dusting of sugar and cream, and punctuated with percussive cookie crunch. With each bite, the peach’s song, learned from seed, reverberated in the small corner of the orchard.
Photos and Story by Hannah Elizabeth Wilson
As everyone's gardens start flourishing with Zucchini it is always a challange to figure out what to do with them. I like to chop and coat with olive oil and freeze some so I can use them in the winter for soups stews and bread. Freezing is very fast and easy for me and my schedule. When I have a little time I make zuccini bread and freeze them too. We love fresh bread at my house especially zucchini bread so below is a sweet chocolate zucchini bread that I was inspired by at our potluck the other night.
2 cups sugar
1 cup canola oil
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup baking cocoa
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups shredded peeled zucchini
In a large bowl, beat the sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla until well blended. Combine the flour, cocoa, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and baking powder; gradually beat into sugar mixture until blended. Stir in zucchini. Transfer to two 8-in. x 4-in. loaf pans coated with cooking spray.
Bake at 350° for 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely. Yield: 2 loaves (12 slices each).
Not sure what to do with beets. Here are a few tips and how we enjoy them.Read More
Thank you so much for your interest and early support with our farm. We are happy to announce that the Field To Fork CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program is full. I don’t think we have ever filled up so fast and we feel so lucky to have a secure market for our fruits and vegetables. Having a direct relationship with our customers is such a privilege and being able to focus on the growing end of our produce for our customers is our number one priority. Most farmers grow food and then try to find a customer or market once the crop is producing. With fresh produce being a perishable product we cannot take the risk of waiting. Operating a CSA program is so rewarding for the farmer and for the customer and the community that builds it. Together we are all taking a risk; together we all reap the reward.
If you are not able to join us this year or waited to long we will be at:
*The Sunday Palisade Farmers Market
*The Thursday Grand Junction Farmers Market.
Cream of the Crop Produce Stand @ Field To Fork 3526 Front Street Palisade Co.
*Monday and Tuesday we will be available by appointment
*Wednesday-Friday 2-dusk, Saturday and Sunday 9am - dusk.
Come by the farm and say hi!
You will also find our products available to the local chefs and restaurants that enjoy featuring crops our valley produce's. Please stay informed with the farm through the growing season as we plan to have fun farm dinners, potlucks and the end of season 2015 Hoe Down!
March 29 10am-1pm
Family & Friend Portraits:
by Audrey Carlson
Fruit Tree Workshop: Pruning, Thining & Pest Managment
Field To Fork
3526 Front Street
It's that time again! Time to sign up for the 2015 CSA season with Field To Fork CSA.Read More
At Field To Fork we take the most pride in seed selection. We choose only the best seed for our customers and purchase Organic, Heirloom and Open Polinated seed. We do this for the fact that we belive in Organic Agriculture and strive to grow food that we know is safe. We also know that our customers believe in us and know that we are making good choices. So we are making a pledge to you below you will see the safe seed pledge.
The Safe Seed Pledge:
Agriculture and seeds provide the basis upon which our lives depend. We must protect this foundation as a safe and genetically stable source for future generations. For the benefit of all farmers, gardeners and consumers who want an alternative, we pledge that we do not knowingly buy or sell genetically engineered vegetables or plants. The mechanical transfer of genetic material outside of natural reproductive methods and between genera, families or kingdoms, poses great biological risks as well as economic, political and cultural threats. We feel that genetically engineered varieties have been insufficiently tested prior to public release. More research and testing is necessary to further assess the potential risks of genetically engineered seeds. Further, we wish to support agricultural progress that leads to healthier soils, genetically diverse agricultural ecosystems and ultimately healthy people and communities.
HEIRLOOM: Heirlooms are open-pollinated varieties
that either pre-date or are unaltered by the last 60 years
of modern breeding work. These varieties have been
passed down from neighbor to neighbor or through
families for generations, and are prized for their unusual
appearance, genetic diversity, and superior flavor.
OPEN-POLLINATED (OP): These varieties have
more genetic diversity and often more variation than
hybrids and can be pollinated by another plant of
the same variety to produce seeds that are “true to
type” – just like the parent plant. If an OP is cross pollinated
by a different variety of the same species,
it will produce seeds that are hybrids.
HYBRID: Created by deliberately crossing two different
parent varieties from the same species, they combine the
best traits of these varieties to produce greater disease
resistance, yield, and uniformity. F1 means “first generation
offspring”. These are not genetically modified but are
created through traditional plant breeding techniques.
WHAT ARE GMOS?
Genetically modified organisms (or GMOs) are varieties that have been
created by adding genetic material from one species into the DNA
sequence of another species, with the intention of introducing new
traits that would not normally exist. The result of genetic modification
by laboratory methods is a combination of genetic materials that could
never occur naturally. This is unlike traditional breeding, wherein
pollen is moved between closely-related plants. Traditional plant
breeders carry pollen from one plant to another by hand or with the
help of insects to produce controlled crosses of two individuals
Seed Companies we support:
My thanks go out to all of you who joined us at our 4th Annual Fall "Hoe Down". It was a beautiful afternoon, and the music, food, and company couldn't have been better. We were so lucky to have The Junk Town Wild Strings, Russ Chapman and We Speak Imaginese perform at our farm and to us these artists are true supporters of the farming community here in Palisade Colorado. We want to thank them for their time talent and generosity. We also want to thank West Slope Supper Club for helping with much of the event organizing. Over the last few years the Hoe Down has become more then I can handle alone and having dedicated help to organize is exactly what we have needed. I want to take this time to especially thank Robin Brown and Jodi Niernberg the founders of West Slope Supper Club for helping us this year. Please take the time to follow them with many more events focused around food and friends in Mesa County.
I also want to thank Josh Niernberg, Nic Santos, Cowboy and the Rose, Jill Peters and all the volunteer culinary talent that helped prepare food for everyone. The Roasted pigs were perfectly prepared and all the side dishes feed a small army. These Chefs own or grace the kitchens of Bin 707 Foodbar, Cafe Sol, Cowboy and the Rose and 626 on Rood. We feel so luck to work with these chefs and restaurants you can find our produce at these restaurants through most of the year. Kannah Creek Brewery provided great brews, The Peach Street Distillery cocktails were a hit and Mesa Park Vineyards wines were much appreciated in helping everyone get loose!
As I have mentioned this Hoe Down was at our "new" farm. Over the last few years we have been leasing land in Palisade and carefully tracking every cent and pound of produce that the CSA has brought in. We do this for two reasons 1. To show the USDA we use Organic-growing methods in hope of receiving our Organic Certification. 2. To qualify for a agriculture loan you need to show you can financially support the agriculture. We worked our way into this property this last spring and we now have a farm to continue hosting the CSA and continue growing food for our community of Mesa County. The emotion of reaching this goal and being able to continue our Agriculture practice is very emotional and exciting for us. Many of you have watched our growing pains and have supported every move and decision we have made. Thank you CSA for all your interest, support and love. We love farming and growing food for you and the best is still to come. I am amazed at how far we have come. I say "we" because Field To Fork CSA really couldn't have done this without you and the collective support of this community. To me, it's a testament to the power of community, and I thank you for being a part of this incredible process.
If you missed this fun event I am sorry but there is always next year. If you have interest in joining the CSA for next year please contact us!
Or reserve your spot for 2015 today!
Below you will see a few pictures of the Hoe Down.
Pictures by Cat Mayer
Please Join us as we put our "Hoe Down" and our feet up October 19, 2014. We will be offering two free gardeing seminars in the morning startin at 10:00 and 11:00 as well as a lovely Taco Feast dinner at 4:30. Live music is planned as well as spirits and fermentations poured. Local talent from the great chefs in Mesa County will prepare delicious bites. Rain or shine this event is not one to miss! Adults $25.00 Child $5.00 Tickets available at www.westslopesupperclub.com
3526 Front Street Palisade
Please contact us for more information!
At Field To Fork we are currently looking for a few more good volunteers to help us finish out the growing season. Currently we are looking for people Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 9-2. In exchange for your time you will recieve a share of the weekly CSA bounty. If you are intersted in dedicating some of your time and gaining experince on a working organic farm please contact us. If you are intersted in getting closer to your food and have a good work ethic we would be interested in meeting you. Please read our work and volunteer page for more information regarding working on our farm.
Jessica & Scott Washkowiak
Here is a guide to freezing veggies. With the garden bounty growing each week start freezing what you cant eat. I found this great article on the Colorado State University Extension web site and wanted to share it with you. What is better then eating fresh local food in the winter and not spending money at the grocery store on veggies?
- The quality of frozen vegetables depends on the quality of the fresh produce.
- Blanching and prompt cooling are essential in preparing most vegetables, except herbs and green peppers, for freezing.
- Blanch vegetables by placing them in boiling water or steam.
- There are two basic packing methods recommended for frozen vegetables: dry pack and tray pack.
- Most vegetables maintain high quality for 12 to 18 months at 0 degrees F.
Freezing is an excellent way to preserve fresh vegetables. The quality of frozen vegetables depends on the quality of the fresh products and how they are handled from the time they are picked until they are ready to eat. It is important to get the product from the garden to the freezer in as short a time as possible. It is important, also, to start with high-quality vegetables, as freezing will not improve the product’s quality.
Blanching and prompt cooling are necessary steps in preparing practically every vegetable, except herbs and green peppers, for freezing. The reason is that heating slows or stops the enzyme action. Enzymes help vegetables grow and mature. After maturation, however, they cause loss of quality, flavor, color, texture and nutrients. If vegetables are not heated enough, the enzymes continue to be active during frozen storage and may cause the vegetables to toughen or develop off-flavors and colors. Blanching also wilts or softens vegetables, making them easier to pack. It destroys some bacteria and helps remove any surface dirt.
Selecting Freezing Containers
Select containers best suited to the vegetable. Square or rectangular flat-sided containers make the best use of freezer space. Good quality moisture- and vapor-proof packaging materials made of glass or rigid plastic are best. They prevent drying of the food during freezer storage. Moistureand vapor-resistant bags and waxed cartons designed for freezing also retain satisfactory quality.
Selecting and Preparing Vegetables
Use vegetables at peak flavor and texture. When possible, harvest in the cool part of the morning and freeze within two hours. Wash vegetables thoroughly in cold water, lifting them out of the water as grit settles to the bottom of the washing container. Sort by size for blanching and packing.
Most vegetables may be blanched in boiling water or steam.
Blanching in Boiling Water
To blanch vegetables in boiling water, bring at least 1 gallon of water to a rapid boil in a blancher or large kettle with a lid. Lower a pound of prepared vegetables placed in a metal basket or cheesecloth bag into the boiling water and cover with a lid. Start counting time as soon as the vegetables are in the boiling water. Keep heat on high for the total blanching time specified in Table 1.
Follow the recommended blanching time for each vegetable. Under-blanching may stimulate enzyme activity and could be worse than no blanching. Prolonged blanching causes loss of vitamins, minerals, flavor and color.
Heating in steam is another way to blanch vegetables. Steam blanching takes somewhat longer than water blanching but helps retain water-soluble vitamins. Steam-blanching times are given in Table 1 for those vegetables that steam most successfully.
To steam vegetables, bring 1 to 2 inches of water to a rolling boil in a kettle with a tight-fitting lid and a rack that holds a steaming basket or cheesecloth bag at least 3 inches above the bottom of the kettle. Put a single layer of vegetables in the basket or bag so steam can reach all parts quickly. Place the basket or bag on the rack in the kettle, cover and keep heat on high. Start counting steaming time as soon as the lid is on.
After vegetables are heated, cool quickly and thoroughly to stop the cooking. To cool vegetables heated in boiling water or steam, plunge the basket of vegetables immediately into a large quantity of cold water that is 60 degrees Fahrenheit (F) or below. Change water frequently or use cold running or iced water. Use about 1 pound of ice for each pound of vegetables. It takes about as long to cool the food as to heat it. When vegetables are cooled, remove from the water and drain thoroughly.
Pre-Cooking Prior to Freezing
Some foods are best preserved by pre-cooking prior to freezing. Pumpkin, sweet potatoes and winter squash may be heated in a microwave oven, pressure cooker or oven until soft, then chunked or pureed or for storage in meal-sized portions using the dry pack method. Mushrooms may be lightly sautéed in butter or margarine, then cooled and dry packed. Stewed tomatoes may be prepared ahead, then frozen in meal-size portions. See specific directions in Table 1.
There are two basic packing methods recommended for frozen vegetables: dry pack and tray pack.
To dry pack, place the blanched and drained vegetables into meal-sized freezer bags or containers. Pack tightly to cut down on the amount of air in the package. Leave 1/2-inch headspace at the top of rigid containers and close securely. For freezer bags, fill to within 3 inches of top, twist and fold back top of bag, and tie with a twist tape or rubber band about 1/2- to 3/4-inch from the food. This allows space for the food to expand. Provision for headspace is not necessary for foods such as broccoli, asparagus and Brussels sprouts that do not pack tightly in containers.
To tray pack, place chilled, well-drained vegetables in a single layer on shallow trays or pans. Place in freezer until firm, then remove and quickly fill labeled bags or containers. Close and freeze immediately. Tray-packed foods do not freeze in a block but remain loose so that the amount needed can be poured from the container and the package reclosed.
Labeling and Storing
Label packages with the name of the product and the freezing date. Freeze at once at 0 degrees F or lower. Because speed in freezing is important for best quality, put only as much unfrozen vegetables into the freezer at one time as will freeze in 24 hours, usually 2 to 3 pounds per cubic foot of freezer capacity.
For quickest freezing, place packages at least 1 inch apart against freezer plates or coils. After vegetables are frozen, rearrange packages and store close together. Most vegetables maintain high quality for 12 to 18 months at 0 degrees F or lower. Longer storage will not make food unfit for use, but may impair quality. It is a good idea to post a list of the frozen vegetables near the freezer and to check off packages as they are used.
Freezing of Vegetables, FDNS-E043-5. J.A. Harrison and E.L. Andress. University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service, Athens, GA, 2000.
Table 1. Vegetable freezing guide. (Note: Blanching times given are for 5,000 feet or higher. At altitudes below 5000 feet, subtract one minute from times given.)
Asparagus Select young, tender stalks with compact tips. Remove or break off tough ends and scales. Wash thoroughly. Sort for size. Cut to fit containers or in 2-inch lengths. Blanch medium stalks 4 minutes in boiling water, 5 minutes in steam. Blanch large stalks 5 minutes in boiling water, 6 minutes in steam. Cool and drain dry. Pack without headspace, alternating tips and stem ends of spears.
Beans, green Select young, tender stringless beans. Wash thoroughly, remove ends, sort for size. Cut into 1- to 2-inch pieces, leave whole, or slice into lengthwise strips. Water blanch 4 minutes. Chill and drain. Dry pack with headspace, or tray pack.
Beans, lima Select well-filled pods containing green beans. Wash, shell and sort. Water blanch 3-5 minutes, depending on size. Cool and drain dry. Tray pack or dry pack with headspace.
Beans, green soybeans Select firm, well-filled, bright green pods. Wash. Water blanch 6 minutes. Cool and drain. Squeeze soybeans out of pods. Dry pack with headspace, or tray pack.
Beets Select beets 3 inches in diameter or less. Wash; sort for size. Remove tops, leaving 1/2-inch stems. Cook in boiling water until tender: 25-30 minutes for small beets, 45-50 minutes for medium-sized beets. Cool and drain; peel, slice or cube. Dry pack with headspace.
Broccoli Select tender, dark green stalks. Wash; peel and trim stalks. To remove insects from heads, soak 30 minutes in a solution of 4 teaspoons salt per gallon of water. Rinse and drain. Split lengthwise into pieces not more than 1 1/2 inches across. Blanch in steam 6 minutes or boiling water 4 minutes. Cool and drain. Dry or tray pack without headspace.
Brussels sprouts Select green, firm, compact heads. Wash, trim. Soak in salt solution (see broccoli) 30 minutes to drive out insects. Rinse and drain. Water blanch 4-6 minutes depending on size of head. Cool and drain. Dry pack without headspace.
Cabbage Wash. Trim coarse outer leaves of solid heads. Cut heads into medium or coarse shreds, thin wedges or separate into leaves. Water blanch 2 1/2 minutes. Cool and drain. Dry pack with headspace.
Carrots Select tender, mild-flavored carrots. Remove tops; wash and peel. Leave whole if small; dice or slice larger carrots 1/4-inch thick. Water blanch whole carrots 6 minutes, diced or sliced carrots 3 minutes. Cool and drain. Dry pack with headspace.
Cauliflower Choose firm, tender, snow-white heads. Break or cut into pieces 1 inch across. Wash well. Soak 1/2 hour in salt solution (see broccoli) if needed to drive out insects. Rinse and drain. Blanch 4 minutes in boiling water containing 4 teaspoons salt per gallon of water. Cool and drain. Dry pack without headspace.
Corn, cut Husk, remove silk, trim ends and wash. Water blanch 5 minutes. Cool and drain. Cut kernels from cob. Dry pack with headspace, or tray pack.
Corn-on the-cob Husk, remove silk, wash, and sort for size. Water blanch small ears 8 minutes, medium ears 10 minutes and large ears 12 minutes. Cool and drain. Pack in plastic freezer bags without headspace.
Eggplant Peel, cut into slices 1/3-inch thick. To preserve color, drop pieces into a solution of 4 teaspoons salt per gallon of water. Water blanch 5 minutes in the same proportions of salt and water. Cool and drain. Tray pack or dry pack in layers separated by sheets of locker paper.
Greens Wash young, tender leaves well. Remove tough stems and imperfect parts. Cut in pieces, if desired. Water blanch tender spinach leaves 2 1/2 minutes; beet greens, kale, chard, mustard greens, turnip and mature spinach leaves 3 minutes; and collard greens 4 minutes. Cool and drain. Dry pack with headspace.
Herbs Wash, drain, trim or chop. Tray freeze. Use in cooked dishes, as product becomes limp when thawed.
Mushrooms Select mushrooms free of spots or decay. Sort for size. Wash and drain. Trim off ends of stems. Slice or quarter mushrooms larger than 1 inch across. Dip mushrooms to be steam blanched for 5 minutes in a solution of 1 teaspoon lemon juice or 1 1/2 teaspoons citric acid per pint of water. Steam whole mushrooms 6 minutes; quarters or slices 4-4 1/2 minutes. Cool and drain. Mushrooms also may be lightly sauteed in butter or margarine and cooled. Dry pack with headspace.
Onions Wash, peel and chop fully mature onions. Water blanch 2 1/2 minutes; cool and drain. Also may freeze without blanching. Tray pack or dry pack with headspace. Use in cooked products. Will keep 3-6 months.
Peas, green Select bright green, plump, firm pods with sweet, tender peas. Shell. Water blanch 2 1/2 minutes. Cool and drain. Dry pack with headspace.
Peas, sugar, or snow podWash, remove stems, blossom end and any strings. Leave whole. Water blanch 3 1/2 minutes. Cool and drain. Dry pack with headspace, or tray pack.
Peppers, green, sweet Select firm, crisp, thick-walled peppers. Wash; cut out stems. Cut in half, remove seeds. Cut into strips or rings, if desired. Water blanch halves 4 minutes, slices 3 minutes for tighter packing and use in cooked dishes. Cool and drain. Freeze without blanching for use in salads and as garnishes. Dry pack blanched peppers with headspace. Tray or dry pack unblanched peppers without headspace.
Peppers, hot, condiment Wash and stem peppers. Dry or tray pack in small containers without headspace.
Peppers, chili Wash. Make a small slit in the side for steam to escape. Heat in 400-450 F oven 6-8 minutes or until skins blister. Cool in ice water for a crisp product. For a more thoroughly cooked product, wrap in a hot damp towel and allow to steam 15 minutes. Freeze without peeling or slit side, peel off skin and remove stem, seeds, membranes. Flatten to remove air, fold in half. Dry pack with waxed paper between single layers leaving headspace, or tray pack.
Pimentos Wash. Roast in oven at 400 F for 3-4 minutes. Rinse in cold water to remove charred skins. Drain. Dry pack with headspace, or tray pack.
Potatoes Wash and peel; remove eyes, bruises, green spots. Cut in 1/4- to 1/2-inch cubes. Water blanch 4-6 minutes. Cool and dry pack with 1/2-inch headspace, or tray pack. For hash browns, cook in jackets until almost done. Peel and grate. Form in desired shapes. Pack and freeze. For French fries, peel and cut in thin strips. Rinse and dry. Fry in fat heated to 360 F for 4 minutes or until golden. Drain and cool. Dry pack with headspace, or tray pack.
Pumpkins and winter squash
Hubbard, buttercup)Wash; cut into pieces and remove seeds. Cook pieces until soft in boiling water, steam, microwave oven, pressure cooker or 350-400 F oven (cut side down). Cool. Scoop out pulp; mash, blend or put through sieve. Chill thoroughly. Pack with headspace.
Rutabagas Cut off tops of young, medium-sized rutabagas, wash and peel. Cut into cubes and water blanch 3 minutes. Cool, drain and dry pack with 1/2-inch headspace, or tray pack. For mashed rutabagas, cut into chunks and cook until tender in boiling water. Drain, mash, cool thoroughly and pack in containers with headspace.
(zucchini, yellow, white scallop)Select young squash with small seeds and tender rind. Wash, cut in 1/2-inch slices. Water blanch 4 minutes. Cool summer and drain. Dry pack with headspace.
Sweet potatoesSelect medium to large mature sweet potatoes that have been air-dried (cured). Sort for size; wash. Cook until almost tender in water, steam, pressure cooker or oven. Cool at room temperature. Peel; cut in halves, slice, or mash. To prevent darkening, dip halves or slices in solution of either 1 tablespoon citric acid or 1/2 cup lemon juice per quart of water for 5 minutes. For mashed sweet potatoes, mix 2 tablespoons orange or lemon juice with each quart. Dry pack with headspace.
Tomatoes, juiceWash, sort and trim firm tomatoes. Cut in quarters or eights. Simmer 5 to 10 minutes. Press through sieve. Season with 1 teaspoon salt per quart of juice, if desired. Pour into containers, leaving 1 1/2-inch headspace.
Tomatoes, stewedWash ripe, blemish-free tomatoes. Scald 2-3 minutes to loosen skins; peel and core. Cut into pieces and freeze or simmer 10-20 minutes until tender. Cool and dry pack with 1/2-inch headspace.
Turnips; parsnipsSelect tender, firm, mild-flavored small to medium turnips or parsnips. Wash, peel, cut into 1/2-inch cubes. Water blanch 3 minutes. Cool and drain. Dry pack with headspace.
Myth Busting: Soil Health and Crop Rotation
“The rotation of crops is designed to nourish, exercise and rest the soil.”
In our last blog we talked about large scale organic agriculture and how those farmers nurish their soil and maintain plant health. Now lets discuse small farm soil and crop health. At Field To Fork CSA we have a integrated soil health and pest managment plan. We divide our fields into sections and have a three year plan for most crops. Those crops are moved throughout the field beds based on plant family and season. Our crop rotation is on a cycle.
For example let’s say tomatoes, which are in the nightshade family, were planted in bed #1 this season. They will grow in bed #1 until they stop producing in early fall and will be pulled out. Next year, tomatoes will be planted in, say, bed #2, and something else, like peas, which are in the legume family, will be planted in bed #1. And the next year, both crops will be moved again. Bed #1 will not be planted with another nightshade plant, like tomatoes, peppers or eggplants, for three or more years after the tomato crop was pulled. Same goes for the legumes, and every other plant family. It is even three or more years between plant families being grown in the same bed.
This kind of crop rotation helps balance the biological health of the soil, for different plants and families give and take different nutrients from the soil. Even over the winter, when not all of the beds are growing crops we think of as harvestable, the beds are planted with cover crops to perpetuate the nutrient exchange and to protect the soil from erosion.
With balanced, nutrient-rich soil, we are building the foundation of a healthy farm and food system—one that is sustainable, flourishing with seasonal and regional crops, and does not rely on chemical inputs.
Myth #1: Organic Farms Don’t Use Pesticides
When the Soil Association, a major organic accreditation body in the UK, asked consumers why they buy organic food, 95% of them said their top reason was to avoid pesticides. They, like many people, believe that organic farming involves little to no pesticide use. I hate to burst the bubble, but that’s simply not true. Organic farming, just like other forms of agriculture, still uses pesticides and fungicides to prevent critters from destroying their crops. Confused?
Turns out that there are over 20 chemicals commonly used in the growing and processing of organic crops that are approved by the OMRI Listing US Organic Standards. And, shockingly, the actual volume usage of pesticides on organic farms is not recorded by the government. Why the government isn’t keeping watch on organic pesticide and fungicide use is a damn good question, especially considering that many organic pesticides that are also used by conventional farmers are used more intensively than synthetic ones due to their lower levels of effectiveness. According to the National Center for Food and Agricultural Policy, the top two organic fungicides, copper and sulfur, were used at a rate of 4 and 34 pounds per acre in 1971 1. In contrast, the synthetic fungicides only required a rate of 1.6 lbs per acre, less than half the amount of the organic alternatives.
The sad truth is, factory farming is factory farming, whether its organic or conventional. Many large organic farms use pesticides liberally. They’re organic by certification, but you’d never know it if you saw their farming practices. As Michael Pollan, best-selling book author and organic supporter, said in an interview with Organic Gardening,
What makes organic farming different, then? It’s not the use of pesticides, it’s the origin of the pesticides used. Organic pesticides are those that are derived from natural sources and processed lightly if at all before use. This is different than the current pesticides used by conventional agriculture, which are generally synthetic. It has been assumed for years that pesticides that occur naturally (in certain plants, for example) are somehow better for us and the environment than those that have been created by man. As more research is done into their toxicity, however, this simply isn’t true, either. Many natural pesticides have been found to be potential – or serious – health risks.2
Take the example of Rotenone. Rotenone was widely used in the US as an organic pesticide for decades 3. Because it is natural in origin, occurring in the roots and stems of a small number of subtropical plants, it was considered “safe” as well as “organic“. However, research has shown that rotenone is highly dangerous because it kills by attacking mitochondria, the energy powerhouses of all living cells. Research found that exposure to rotenone caused Parkinson’s Disease-like symptoms in rats 4, and had the potential to kill many species, including humans. Rotenone’s use as a pesticide has already been discontinued in the US as of 2005 due to health concerns***, but shockingly, it’s still poured into our waters every year by fisheries management officials as a piscicide to remove unwanted fish species.
The point I’m driving home here is that just because something is natural doesn’t make it non-toxic or safe. Many bacteria, fungi and plants produce poisons, toxins and chemicals that you definitely wouldn’t want sprayed on your food.
Just last year, nearly half of the pesticides that are currently approved for use by organic farmers in Europe failed to pass the European Union’s safety evaluation that is required by law 5. Among the chemicals failing the test was rotenone, as it had yet to be banned in Europe. Furthermore, just over 1% of organic foodstuffs produced in 2007 and tested by the European Food Safety Authority were found to contain pesticide levels above the legal maximum levels – and these are of pesticides that are not organic 6. Similarly, when Consumer Reports purchased a thousand pounds of tomatoes, peaches, green bell peppers, and apples in five cities and tested them for more than 300 synthetic pesticides, they found traces of them in 25% of the organically-labeled foods, but between all of the organic and non-organic foods tested, only one sample of each exceeded the federal limits8.
Not only are organic pesticides not safe, they might actually be worse than the ones used by the conventional agriculture industry. Canadian scientists pitted ‘reduced-risk’ organic and synthetic pesticides against each other in controlling a problematic pest, the soybean aphid. They found that not only were the synthetic pesticides more effective means of control, the organic pesticides were more ecologically damaging, including causing higher mortality in other, non-target species like the aphid’s predators9. Of course, some organic pesticides may fare better than these ones did in similar head-to-head tests, but studies like this one reveal that the assumption that natural is better for the environment could be very dangerous.
Even if the organic food you’re eating is from a farm which uses little to no pesticides at all, there is another problem: getting rid of pesticides doesn’t mean your food is free from harmful things. Between 1990 and 2001, over 10,000 people fell ill due to foods contaminated with pathogens like E. coli, and many have organic foods to blame. That’s because organic foods tend to have higher levels of potential pathogens. One study, for example, found E. coli in produce from almost 10% of organic farms samples, but only 2% of conventional ones10. The same study also found Salmonella only in samples from organic farms, though at a low prevalence rate. The reason for the higher pathogen prevalence is likely due to the use of manure instead of artificial fertilizers, as many pathogens are spread through fecal contamination. Conventional farms often use manure, too, but they use irradiation and a full array of non-organic anti-microbial agents as well, and without those, organic foods run a higher risk of containing something that will make a person sick.
In the end, it really depends on exactly what methods are used by crop producers. Both organic and conventional farms vary widely in this respect. Some conventional farms use no pesticides. Some organic farms spray their crops twice a month. Of course, some conventional farms spray just as frequently, if not more so, and some organic farms use no pesticides whatsoever. To really know what you’re in for, it’s best if you know your source, and a great way to do that is to buy locally. Talk to the person behind the crop stand, and actually ask them what their methods are if you want to be sure of what you’re eating.
Please look at the beautiful pictures Cat Meyer shared with this last weeks photo contest. She wins a box of cherries! Thanks for playing! More photo contest to come.