CUCUMBERS OR CUKES
We always get raves over our sweet, cool cucumbers! If champagne growers can attribute the taste of their product to the soil, then so can we! There really are the best cukes we have ever tasted! We don’t peel them . . . instead we take strips of the peel off for an interesting presentation; but the peels on our cucumbers are not bitter! We pick them small; however, when the end of these season arrives, everything goes into the boxes! We have found our members just can’t get enough and even the ugly ones are desirable at the end of the harvest season!
And, FYI, cucumbers are botanically classified as a fruit and not a vegetable because they have an enclosed seed and develop from a flower! So now you know!!
RED GARDEN BEETS
Sweet, garden beets are a frequently overlooked vegetable. Could it be because the fresh beet juice has a powerful red pigment which stains dish towels, wooden cutting boards and hands? I know from experience you can soak your hands in lemon juice to remove the colorful stain. I understand rubbing them with salt also works. These beets are so sweet they can be used in the place of cane sugar when making brownies and no one will be the wiser. “Beeturia” is the word used for the interesting stains fresh beets will give to the inside of your body!
Our cauliflower do well some years and not so good in other years! We have been told we cannot grow cauliflower in WNC! Some years we agree; but we keep on trying! Pictured is a large head still in the garden. Some heads are more white and some are more yellow. Some heads are Rosy! It all depends on the variety we are harvesting at the time.
The green beans we grow are stringless. We have tried many varieties over the years, but always get the most “raves” over these! We attempt to harvest all beans while they are still small. These beans may appear long, but they are sweet and tender with NO strings!
YELLOW OR WAX BEANS
Yellow beans, sometimes called wax beans, start out green and turn yellow when ready for harvest. They can be cooked the same as green beans. The farmer likes his steamed until fork tender and served with Smart Balance and Lemon Pepper. I love them raw! These beans make a pretty sight when mixed with traditional green beans.
ITALIAN ROMA BROAD BEANS
The first time Robert and I ate roma beans, we were skeptical because the bean was so long and flat. The restaurant had cut them into pieces about one-inch in length and served them with bacon drippings, I think. They were different—big, flat and no bean. As a rule, we like our beans tender, small and with no bean. But now we love Italian Roma Broad beans, too!
They are tender regardless of the size we have discovered. Treat them like any other bean. Leave then whole if you have a serving dish long enough and cut off a bite at a time . . . your meal will last forever! How’s that for a dieting tip?!
Ever heard okra called by the nickname “Slick Jacks?” They ARE rather slimy! We like ours tossed in Earth Balance until they are slightly browned and the slime disappears. Nothing else except a dash of lemon pepper. Or they can be steamed with the stem on. Use the stem as a handle when eating these fussy little veggies. Weather conditions must be absolutely perfect for them to grow!
The rutabaga is a root vegetable which originated as a cross between the cabbage and the turnip and has its origins in Sweden. In Scotland and Ireland rutabagas were carved out and used as candle lanterns in Halloween celebrations in the times before pumpkins were widely available. Rutabagas can be used in salads, thinly julienned as a side dish, in stews and casseroles. They are loaded with Vitamin C, have 1/3 the carbs of potatoes, and less than 1/2 the calories of potatoes with just a bit of spicy flavor!
The cantaloupe is one of the few fruits we grow besides tomatoes and cucumbers which are technically fruits and not vegetables. We are still experimenting with varieties to find the best for our soil conditions. We do know the melons like our deep-well drip irrigation system. The constant and continuous supply of water make a world of difference to this particular fruit.
These melons are vine ripened, so don’t leave them on the counter and expect to eat them a couple of days later. Please cut, seed, peel, and place in your refrigerator as soon as possible.
RED & WHITE POTATOES
The potatoes on the left are a red variety. The potatoes on the right are white potatoes. The reds are the first potatoes of the season. All of our potatoes are to be considered “new” because they are freshly dug each week through August. Store them in a cool, dark place; but not the refrigerator! Consider all of our potatoes new and treat accordingly. If exposed to sunlight in the field because they are close to the top of the soil or if simply left out on the kitchen counter, the new potato will turn greenish. This green color is actually TOXIC. If this happens, simply peel of the any green color before eating and all will be well.
These fat, oblong potatoes are called Fingerlings. Why are they so fat? Blame it on the fertile soil. Fingerling varieties can be red, white, pink or golden in color. French Fingerling Potatoes have a beautiful rosy color inside! They are considered a salad potato, but can also be roasted or steamed. Do not store potatoes in the refrigerator. Cold storage causes a natural reaction whereby the starches turn to sugars. We want you to taste your potatoes at their peak flavor!
RUSSET BAKING POTATOES
Russet Baking Potatoes are the last of the season and one of our favorites! They have the most delicious skin when baked in a hot oven. These potatoes will last all winter in a cool, dry, dark place . . . if it is possible to not eat them!
Potatoes come in all shapes and sizes. We trust you will be entertained and not annoyed with the occasional gremlin shapes and ducks and boats and faces, and whatever else your imagination may cause you to see in your potato bag this season!
SWEET, ORANGE TOMATOES
Vine-ripened tomatoes! Our sweet orange tomatoes are a favorite of one and all. These delicate fruits literally explode in your mouth . . . and often explode in one’s hand when being harvested. I suppose this is why they are not usually found in the markets.
These are small, oblong tomatoes. They have the shape of a miniature Roma tomato and are quite tasty as a salad tomato.
This is a funky, unique tomato with character! All tomatoes are botanically classified as fruits and not vegetables because they have an enclosed seed and develop from a flower!
These small, oblong heirloom tomatoes are another of our specialties! They are quite tasty.
BIG SLICER & SMALLER CLUSTER TOMATOES
And what would summer be without vine-ripened, sweet, slicer, sandwich tomatoes? These succulent fruits are truly one of God’s gifts to the dedicated gardener The smaller ones are of a cluster variety and not just small tomatoes All tomatoes can be roasted and stashed away for use at a later time. This is good to know if they are getting too ripe too quickly on your kitchen counter!
SWEET BELL PEPPERS
Our Sweet Bell Peppers start out green. When left to ripen on the vine, they will turn red, yellow and orange! The longer they spend in the garden and the sunnier the days, the thicker the walls develop and the sweeter the pepper becomes!
COLORFUL BELL PEPPERS
Interestingly enough, some bell peppers will continue to ripen even in your refrigerator. Of course, harvesting them colorful from the vine ensures the most nutrition. The only problem is the more colorful and sweeter they become, the more likely they are to be attacked by the garden insects!
OBLONG SWEET PEPPERS
You may look at the shape and think these oblong peppers are hot. They are not! We think they are even sweeter than our sweet bell peppers!
Many people are familiar with the traditional, large, purple eggplant. You will be happy to know the skin of our eggplants is NOT BITTER, so there is no reason to peel it off! All the more fiber and flavor to enjoy!! Eggplant are a tropical plant and very, very fickle. Some seasons are definitely better than other for growing this vegetable.
ASIAN & SPECIALTY EGGPLANT
The long eggplants are one of the Asian varieties we grow. The oblong-shaped eggplant in the basket on the right is a specialty with a delightful lavender color but similar taste. WARNING: Be careful of the spiny ends on all eggplant! I will try to point them downward when I pack your CSA Box to prevent your sticking your fingers into the spines.
Our blueberries are of the very late variety—as in early September. Only our farm share holders are invited to U-Pick our blueberries. We are not open to the general public. Our blueberries bushes are not groomed as nicely as the area U-Pick farms. There are only so many hours in any day and the vegetables come first on this farm! Always call for an appointment if you want an adventure and bring your own containers.
Eastern North Carolina is known across the United States for growing sweet potatoes. As it turns out, we do a very good job here on our WNC family farm, too! We attempt to grow different sweet potato varieties. All sweet potatoes are loaded with vitamins and fiber. Please try them “naked” before adding other sugars or sweeteners. I think you will discover they have plenty of healthy, natural sweetness all on their own–even if ugly!
This long, skinny variety pictured below may be the sweetest, if not the prettiest specimen! When roasted, we consider them another version of “farmer’s candy!”
ACORN WINTER SQUASH
Acorn Winter Squash (green and on the left in this photo) are a wonderful treat. They have a slightly nutty taste. Do not peel this winter squash before baking. The last time we entered these in the WNC State Fair we won the Best of Show Award! The orange winter squash on the right is called Sunshine.
LARGE SPAGHETTI WINTER SQUASH
The spaghetti squash come in two varieties. This is the large, family-sized version. Do not peel this winter squash before baking. After being baked, the flesh magically rakes out to look like spaghetti and can be eaten like spaghetti! The cooked pulp can also be frozen for a later meal.
INDIVIDUAL-SIZED SPAGHETTI SQUASH
This spaghetti squash is individual-sized when cut in half. The first year we grew these was the year of Hurricane Fran. Our CSA Members quickly figured out they could roast these on a grill and then eat the squash right out of the shell—no electricity or dishes needed!! That was the year we started calling this variety the “Hurricane Squash!” Do not peel this winter squash before baking! The baked flesh of this can be frozen for later use.
INDIVIDUAL-SIZED, GOLDEN SPAGHETTI SQUASH
This is an individual-sized, oblong, golden winter squash. Treat it the same way as the other spaghetti squashes.
BUTTERCUP WINTER SQUASH
In this photo the buttercup winter squash are the brilliant orange colored one. There are two varieties. The bright orange skin is like a neon light to the garden insects! They love its sweet flesh. We have also grown the deep green, blocky shape with a “button” on top variety. This green buttercup can be seen in the last photo on this page. Both have a sweet orange flesh. There is no need to peel this particular winter squash before baking. The baked flesh freezes well if you want to save some for later. Roasted and drizzled with maple syrup, the make a wonderfully, healthy dessert.
BUTTERNUT WINTER SQUASH
Butternut squash will come in a variety of sizes and will have a buff-color exterior. They may remind you of sweet potatoes! They have an excellent flavor and texture! These winter squash are easily peeled with a sharp vegetable peeler to remove any blemishes. Then cut open and remove the seeds before roasting or adding to recipes. We think they also make an unusual raw salad when shredded! They keep well into the winter when stored in a cool, dark place. Or, the baked pulp can be frozen and used for any number of dishes at a later date.
CARNIVAL WINTER SQUASH
There is no need to peel this particular winter squash before baking. The “ribs” or “ridges” actually make it a bit difficult to peel. The baked flesh freezes well if you want to save for later.
BLUE HUBBARD WINTER SQUASH
The Blue Hubbard squash has pulp which is darker than the rest. It has a delightfully, sweet and nutty flavor.
DELICATA WINTER SQUASH
My computer spell check does not like this name! The smallish, long, blimp-shaped squash is a cream to golden color with dark green stripes. It does have a “delicate” flavor; but the name is Delicata!! The Delicata Squash has a somewhat nutty flavor. These winter squash are easily peeled with a sharp vegetable peeler to remove any blemishes. Then cut open and remove the seeds before roasting or adding to recipes.
COLORFUL ARRAY OF WINTER SQUASHES
As the local harvest season moves into fall, look forward to a colorful array of winter squashes! These sweet and nutritious vegetables store better than most which is good considering the long, hard winter lies ahead. We love winter squash and use them in a variety of recipes. One can find recipes for soups, casseroles, roasted delights, souffles, and cheesecakes! Winter squash are hearty, versatile vegetables! They are on the Recipe Page under “W” for “Winter Squash” since many of the recipes are interchangeable with the various varieties. The size of the winter squash and how long they will last in their ‘natural state” will depend upon the growing conditions which vary each season!