My cooking muse has returned! Even after going to the farmers market, all the fresh produce has me in the cooking mood. But, I need to get my pantry ready for spring–especially since our first CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) pickup is this week. If you’re not familiar with CSAs, you pay a lump sum at the beginning of the season and then throughout the season you get a “share” of the produce every week.
We took a “sabbatical” last year and I really missed it. We didn’t eat nearly the amount of vegetables as when we had the share. I decided I’d rather sleep in on Saturday morning than fight the crowds at the farmers market, and then I couldn’t bring myself to buy vegetables at the grocery store. Yes, I know, I have issues.
Anyway, this week is our first pickup back at Groundswell. I’m kind of bummed because I’ll be out of town on a work trip so DH will be picking it up for me. So I want to be doubly sure I’m ready to dig in when I get back.
Here’s how I get ready for the CSA season – however, it’s a great practice for the spring produce/garden/farmers market season in general:
- Clean the refrigerator. Seriously, the amount of vegetables coming in will be overwhelming. And some nights, when there is something else going on right after pick up, you will need all the space you can possibly get to stuff the bags in there before you get a chance to prep everything and condense it into smaller containers. So throw out the expired condiments, the fuzzy stuff growing way in the back, and make it all shiny and new.
- Find (or make or buy) reusable bags. You can buy all sorts of expensive reusable bags, or you can sew your own. They are a really quick project and there are oodles of free patterns out there (gotta love the interweb and Pinterest!). If you want to splurge, baskets are pretty handy in the garden and at the pickup for bulkier items that don’t want to fit in the bags. Most of the CSAs I’ve been a part of have extra plastic bags that people bring to recycle, but part of the fun is using a reusable bag! Don’t ask me why, it just is. Oh, if you’re digging out your stash from last year, you’ll want to thoroughly wash them. They get icky.
- Find or buy storage containers. Shhh, I like to use gallon size Ziploc bags. They keep greens for a long time. But if you shudder at the thought of the ecological impact of plastic, wide mouth canning jars and/or plastic or glass food storage containers work too. I also consider my salad spinner a storage device – right when I get the salad greens home I give them a spin and store them right in it.
- Sharpen your knives. There is a lot of chopping in your future. Make sure you know where your cutting board and sharp knives are!
- Have a plan for composting. I have a handy dandy plastic container that goes in the freezer so I can dump it out whenever it’s full and it doesn’t stink up the kitchen. I eat the greens off of almost every vegetable, but there are sometimes bad spots or rooty bits or you might forget about something in the back of the refrigerator that goes past its prime.
- Get ingredients for your go-to “use up the CSA” meals. For me, this includes rice and bottled Asian sauces (for quick stir fry); salad dressing (I like to make my own but in a pinch store bought will do); eggs (for a veggie scramble); and oil, pine nuts (or walnuts), Parmesan cheese for making pesto (you can use up just about any herb this way).
Do you have any favorite tips to share for getting ready for spring?