Getting more bang from your box

Some of you may be old hands at using vegetables to their fullest in your kitchen.  Some of you may not have seen carrot leaves before this season of CSA and farmer’s market shopping.  I keep finding new ways that I’m underutilizing the veggies that I bring home, and most of what I don’t eat is fed to my chickens and turned into eggs!  Here is a short list of tips and tactics to get more bang from your box (and for several items you might not have seen yet but that you might have brought home from the market).

* Compost it.  If you don’t already have a compost bin or don’t have room, but you do have a flower or garden patch, try burying your veggie scraps in strips between your plants.  Bury a little, then move over six inches and bury the next batch.  Your soil will improve.

* Soup stock it.  The bottoms of lettuce, peels of carrots, ends of bok choy, wilted but not liquified spinach leaves, outsides of onions, and general leftovers from chopping things up have a lot of flavor and nutrients in them.  Save them in a bag in the freezer until you have several big handfuls, then boil them for half an hour or so in water to cover.  Strain it, salt it, and freeze it in baggies, and you’ll have flavorful stock that beats a bouillon cube any day.

* Drink the broth.  Any time you’ve blanched or steamed a veggie, a significant portion of the nutrients have gone into the water.  Drink that as a clear soup, or use it to start a soup stock (see above), so that you’re not losing all those healthy bits.  At the very least, let it cool and water your houseplants.  (This is one of my guiltier items — I always get lazy and just drain the veggies so I can eat them.)

* Eat the tops.  Beet greens are a lot like chard — be sure to cut them off before storing the beets, and you can simmer, sauté, or turn a soup red.  Carrot greens are remarkably tasty and hold up well to all kinds of treatment — soup additions, mixed into a stir fry, or tempura battered and deep fried.  Onion tops are just as edible as leeks and scallions, though they get a little sunburned and thick late in the season.

* Freeze it.  Squishy or bruised fruit isn’t a pleasure to snack on, but it eats all the same because it is just very ripe.  Freeze apricots and berries that arrive too ripe and put them into muffins or smoothies later.

Do you have any tips or ideas?  Post them in the comments!

3 thoughts on “Getting more bang from your box

  1. These are good suggestions for people in the midst of a potato famine. However, I'm sad that it has come down to this for what was billed as a premium CSA though.This week was the heaviest for sure, but we are still (at best) getting 4 days of vegetables for 2 people in a small share. Not the promised 7.


  2. You'll find this will average for the season into the expected week of veggies. Spring is always lean and full of things that don't make full meals (greens and scapes don't fill you up), summer builds quickly, and the fall is full of things that keep well for months. Within the next few weeks, you will be getting things that will be more than you need and you'll be storing them for later.I think you'll also find that some of the small share holders are having problems using up all of their veg before the next week. People who cook using only the box are going to go through it with ease, but most people aren't cooking that way. And good on you for doing it! Stop by the booth and talk with David — it is important to him to hear this feedback and to help to make it right for you, the member.I'll put a little of my personal politics out there as well and say I think using your vegetables this way is important regardless, and doubly important/enjoyable to do with a premium CSA like this one. We know the farmer that grew these carrots and beets, that the greens/pea shells/onion tops weren't sprayed with anything, and that the nutrition and quality are as high as they get (as is the price we pay for them). This isn't potato famine eating — this is how the rest of the world eats, using food entirely, whether it be a Paris market or a farmer in rural China. This is how gourmet restaurants operate.


  3. Here is a tip for people who may have trouble using items that appear in very small portions: Broaden your view of pesto and other spreads. This week, I put the fava beans, a few chocolate mint leaves, almonds, salt, pepper, and olive oil into a food processor and made a great sandwich/cracker spread. If I needed a bigger portion, I could use some of the spinach too. Most any of the greens and scrapes can be used this way, even if there is only a small amount of one item. If you have pesto/dip recipes that call for other greens, substituting typically won't change the recipe at all as long as you substitute herb for herb, oil for oil, etc.


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