Friday, May 27, 2005

Tomatoes, Canning and Another Peek at the CSA

It has been a chilly, rainy week in the New York. I gave up waiting yeseterday and planted my tomatoes outside. They had outgrown their containers and weren't doing well indoors so I don't think they'll be any worse outside. I had already begun to sit them outside a few hours each day so the shock shouldn't be too great. I'm hoping to sneak some time in to plant a few more things before heading north for the weekend.

Why would I bother to plant my own garden after extolling the virtues of a CSA? I had seeds leftover from a garden 3 or 4 years ago. I decided to see if they would sprout or if they were too old. Once they sprouted, my husband and I realized that by growing a few of our favorites in addition to our CSA membership, we might be able to make it through the whole winter without running out of organic produce.

I canned for the first time last fall and it went realy well. The sauce was delicious, although I was a little heavy handed with the crushed red pepper. The sauce lasted until January.

I also made tomatillo salsa. The tomatillos were a pick your own vegetable at our CSA. At the end of the season, nobody seemed to want them anymore. I picked whatever was left because I remembered seeing a tomatillo salsa recipe in the Ball Canning Book. We had salsa until January as well.

Carrots were the final thing I canned. It was almost November and the freezer was packed but I couldn't resist the buckets of "seconds" outside the distribution room at the CSA. Many of those carrots were considered seconds because they looked funny not because of bad spots or nibbles. The carrots lasted into late February.

Perhaps you are wondering why pay for the CSA membership? Why not just grow everything myself? As a mother of four, I have neither the time nor the expertise to grow the variety and bounty that the farmers at our CSA grow. Each time that I help harvest I learn something new. One day when my kids are older and require less of my time, I hope to put that knowledge to use. For now, I love our CSA and the people involved in it. Now that's real value for your dollar.

Have a great weekend.

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