Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Extra stuff from the CSA

Yesterday, Ms. Sotorrific Twins asked a question about what you should do with stuff you get from a CSA that you don't want. I was going to just email her, but then I decided this could be part two of my CSA decision making series. Whoa, don't get me going, I might just post once every 6 months about CSAs!

The fact of the matter is, with many CSAs, you end up with vegetables you don't want. Some CSAs are structured where you get to choose what you want, but many just give you a box of whatever is ripe on the farm that week. So what do you do with the vegetables you don't like?

The first thing I'd suggest is TRY THEM! Search around for a different recipe that uses the vegetable in a way you've never tried. You're getting the most fresh of the vegetables...it hasn't been trucked across the country or sat in a warehouse for a week. You might be pleasantly surprised by a vegetable you thought you didn't like.

But, there's probably no way you're going to like everything. Kohlrabi is my veggie I don't want anywhere near me...I tried it a few times last year, and never liked it. I'm not sure yet if I'll even bother taking it at this year's CSA pickups. Icky! So here some ideas of what to do with those extras:
  • Talk to your CSA about setting up a "trade table", where people leave things they don't want and take something they do want. I mean, you're probably never going to find the popular veggies on the trade table, but you may be able to swap out your kale for kohlrabi or something. The CSA I belonged to tried this one week last year, and unfortunately, at least when I was there, the "trade table" just became filled with kohlrabi. I guess I'm not the only one who isn't a fan! But in theory this might work.
  • Talk to your CSA about the possibility of organizing a donation to a local food pantry or hunger relief agency (if any can use fresh veggies). People can just leave whatever they get too much of, or don't want, and then a volunteer (probably you, if it's your idea!) can deliver it to the charity. Our CSA donates to hunger relief agencies, and I absolutely LOVE this about them, and it was one of the main reasons I chose them. If there's stuff in our pickup I don't want or know I won't be able to use, most times I just don't take it and know it'll go to good use.
  • Offer the vegetable(s) you don't want to someone else who is there picking up at the same time. One week last summer, a family with a child with soy allergies offered us their edamame. I love edamame, so was quite excited! That vegetable you hate may be a favorite of the person standing next to you.
  • Bring the vegetables home and offer them to friends/neighbors/coworkers/family. Someone will probably want it.
  • If all else fails, start composting. I mean, I would never take veggies with the intent of just throwing them on the compost pile, but if all else fails, and despite your best efforts you can't get rid of them and just can't eat them before they go bad, well at least with a compost bin/pile, it's not a complete and total waste.
One of the things I love about a CSA is getting to try all different veggies and getting a big variety. I think a traditional CSA works best for people who aren't overly picky about their vegetables. If you and your family are exceedingly picky, then a CSA that offers you choices of what to take would probably be the best bet for you. Or shopping the farmers' markets, where you have total control of selection and quantity.

What other suggestions do you have for using up those unwanted veggies?

So who else is CSA'ing this summer? Or farmers' market'ing? Yay, I love summer!


Rhonda said...

We'll take your kohlrabi and you can have ALL of our zucchini and summer squash. :)

Sotorrific Twins said...

Thanks for that info!! I'm just doing a half share because I am a bit picky but am trying to beless so. My husband is not picky at all and we are trying to eat healthier as a family so we think this will be a step in the right direction.
I'll have to steal some good recipes from you once I get my first box this weekend!!

LauraC said...

Great write up! I also email ALL of my friends to tell them I have tons of xxx coming and does anyone like it? You would be amazed at how quickly you can pawn off stuff.

Right now I'm doing that with my fresh basil. Too much growing in the backyard. Tons of friends who want it. I'd rather they enjoy it than try to freeze it right now.

I am still CSA!!! Our local selection is insane right now!

Another good way to get rid of vegetables you think you don't like: gratin. I think everyone likes vegetables covered in cream and cheese.

T. said...

I am sticking with the farmers market for my veggies, but I am doing a "CSF" half share this year. Very excited - any tips on what I can do with 4-6 pounds of fish/week?? I think most I can prep and freeze, with the exception of haddock - I see a lot of "chowda" in my future!


Donna said...

Please send me your kohlrabi!!! I can't get enough of it!!! I'll give you my swiss chard and dandelion greens. P.S. I'll take all of Rhonda's zucchini & squash too!

Anonymous said...

Flashbacks! ARGH!! My parents...ok, Dad...had a HUGE garden every year. I remember 2 or 3 yrs in a row they planted Kohlrabi...blech, blech, blech. But funny, when I remember it and mention it to someone, they've never heard of it.
I'm actually growing my own (small) garden this year. Wish me luck!

Sheri-ct said...

Did you get any pea? My crop is just coming in, but a bunny got to most of the plants when they were a few inches tall and killed them:(. It's one of my favorite veggies this time of the year.......so yummy.....I love to eat them raw.


jules said...

Okay all of you kohlrabi lovers, spill your favorite recipes!

Our first CSA pick-up is Saturday - I can't wait!

Small Footprints said...

I adore CSAs ... we've been members for a few years. We're vegetarian so between the CSA and the tailgate markets in the area ... we get a huge selection of wonderful veggies all summer long.

I love your ideas for the veggies one doesn't like. Another idea if there's no one who will take them ... and probably the step right before composting them ... would be to make vegetable stock with them. Sometimes a vegetable that isn't great on the plate will, when added to other veggie bits and pieces, make a fabulous stock for use in all kinds of things.

Thanks for the ideas!

Small Footprints

What A Card said...

Rhonda, you're on! I don't think we'll need ALL of your squash, but you're welcome to our kohlrabi!

Laura, mmmm, gratin!

T, I'd love to hear how the CSF goes. I was very tempted when I heard about it...

Sheri, we got sugar snap peas. Yum!

Small Footprints: Stock! What a great idea! I don't know why, but I find the idea of making stock kind of overwhelming. I love to cook though, so this is the summer I'll try it! Thanks for your comment :)