Arugula

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Arugula (Eruca sativa)

a.k.a. "rocket," is a native of Europe and western Asia. It is a cruciferous plant; whose leaves resemble those of the radish and provide tender, slightly bitter, mustard-flavored greens for salads and then some.

Arugula is full of vitamins A and C and-like many greens-provides much iron and calcium as well.

Storage Tips:

 

  • Arugula is best used fresh.
  • You can keep arugula for a few days in the refrigerator. Wash arugula, let it dry (use a colander or spinner).
  • Place in a plastic bag and into the crisper drawer in the fridge.
  • A paper towel in the bag helps to keep excess moisture to a minimum as well.

Basil

Basil (Ocimum basilicum)

An aromatic herb used in Italian and Asian cooking, basil is a member of the mint family. Ayurvedic tradition uses basil for its calming effect on the nervous system -- no wonder we eat it with comforting food!

Basil is often used fresh. Chop the leaves and incorporate at the last moment, as basil loses flavor with cooking.

Storage Tips:

  • Basil is best used fresh.
  • The best way to preserve basil is to make a pesto! Basil can also be frozen, but dried basil is bland and tasteless.

Beets

Beets (Beta vulgaris)

Wild beets have existed since prehistoric times. The first cultivated beets were apparently tended only for their leaves, which were eaten like spinach. It wasn't until the early Christian era that their yellow, red, and white roots became appreciated.

A much under-appreciated vegetable, beets are beginning to make a much deserved comeback. Beet greens are a source of riboflavin, iron, and vitamins A and C. Beet roots are high in folacin and vitamin C.

Storage Tips:

 

  • Beet greens are best used fresh, as their integrity will diminish rapidly, as with other fresh greens.
  • Store greens wrapped in a damp cloth or in a plastic bag in a drawer in the refrigerator.
  • To maintain firmness of beet roots, cut off leaves and stems 1-2 inches above the root crown. Store in a plastic bag and refrigerate n the hydrator drawer. Beet roots will retain their integrity for three months or longer if stored under optimum conditions.

Bok Choy

Bok Choy (Brassica rapa var. chinensis)

a.k.a. "bok choi" or "pac choi" is a traditional stir-fry vegetable from China. The taste of the stalks is something like that of romaine lettuce, while the leaves have a cabbage-like flavor. Bok Choy is a fine source of vitamins A, C and calcium.

Storage Tips:

 

 

  • Wrap bok choy in a damp towel, or put in a plastic bag and place in the hydrator drawer of the refrigerator.
  • Store for up to one week. Leaves will lose integrity and wilt if allowed to dry out.

Broccoli

Broccoli (Brassica oleracea)

Broccoli began as a wild growing native of the Mediterranean region. The Italians gave broccoli its name; brocco means "sprout" and the Latin brachium means "arm" or "branch". The vegetable only became popular in the U.S. after World War II, when returning GIs, who had eaten broccoli abroad, created a demand. Broccoli is an especially good source of vitamin A, C, calcium, potassium, and iron. Broccoli is also considered to aid in fighting cancer due to an enzyme called sulforaphane.

 

Storage Tips:

  • Broccoli is best used within a couple of days. Store in plastic bag in the hydrator drawer of the refrigerator.
  • For long-term storage, broccoli freezes well. Cut into florets and slice stems. Blanch for 2-4 minutes, rinse in cold water to stop the cooking process, drain, and place in an airtight container such as a freezer bag.

Brussels Sprouts

Brussel Sprouts (Brassica oleracea var. gemnifera)

Brussels sprouts are immature buds, shaped like their tiny cabbage ancestors. They cluster on the main stem of the plant that they grow on. They were originally cultivated somewhere in the vicinity of--you guessed it--Brussels, Belgium, and are just brimming with good stuff-vegetable protein, carbohydrates, vitamins A and C. They also have the reputation of preventing cancer and lowering low-density lipoprotein.

Brussels Sprouts is considered by some a controversial vegetable that has as many detractors as promoters. We leave the sprouts right on the stem - just break them off, peel off any old leaves off the outside, slit the bottoms with a sharp knife, and steam. These get sweeter as they stay in the field longer.

Storage Tips:

 

  • Refrigerate unwashed sprouts in a plastic bag.
  • Best if used fresh, but sprouts should retain their integrity for up to one week.

For long-term storage, Brussel sprouts may be frozen. Blanch sprouts for 3-5 minutes, rinse in cold water, drain, and pack into an airtight container. Place in freezer.

Cabbage

Cabbage (Brassica oleracea var. capitata)

Cabbages are the great-grandparent of cauliflower, kale, broccoli, collards, and Brussels sprouts. The wild cabbage purportedly grew along the Mediterranean in ancient times, but was also mentioned in China by Confucius (d. 497 B.C.). Cabbage contains fiber, reduces cholesterol, and contains vitamins A,C, calcium, potassium, and magnesium.

Storage Tips:

 

  • Refrigerate cabbage in hydrator drawer. A plastic bag will help retain moisture but it is not necessary. Do not remove outer leaves before storage.
  • Properly stored, cabbage can last three weeks to two months in the refrigerator. It can last much longer in optimum root cellar conditions.

Carrot

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Carrot (Daucus carota)

 

Originally from Afghanistan, carrots traditionally came in the colors red, black, purple, and pale yellow.  The first orange varieties were not cultivated until the 1600's-in Holland. Carrots became popular in America after World War I, and now they are a favorite for everything from juice to bread. They contain beta carotene (the precursor of vitamin A), are high in fiber, calcium, and potassium.

Storage Tips:

  • For winter storage, pack carrots in a barrel of moist sand and keep in a cool location.
  • Carrots can be frozen: blanch for 3 minutes, rinse in cold water, drain, and pack into airtight containers.
  • Remove greens and refrigerate in a plastic bag. Will last 2-4 weeks.

Cauliflower

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Cauliflower (Brassica oleracea var. botrytis)

 

Cauliflower is yet another member of the massive cabbage family. This particular variation has been bred for its white heads, which is achieved by growers who cover the flower with the outer leaves, thus blocking sunlight and the production of chlorophyll. Cauliflowers are very low in calories, but rich in vitamin C, the B complex, and vitamin K-which helps blood clotting).

Storage Tips:

  • Caulifower doesn't keep very well.
  • Refrigerate cauliflower in a plastic bag, and it should stay good for a week
  • For long term storage, blanch cauliflower for 2-4 minutes, rinse, and freeze in airtight containers. Thawed cauliflower will not be firm, use for soups and stews.

Celeriac

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Celeriac (Apium graveoleus var. rapaceum)

Celeriac has been cultivated especially for its gnarly edible root that can be --with proper storage -- enjoyed all winter long. Celeriac is very popular in Europe and Russia. As a matter of fact, in Germany and France, our commonly known stalk-type celery is barely used. Celeriac is high in carbohydrates, vitamin C, phosphorus and potassium.

 

Storage Tips:

  • Do not wash celeriac before storing. Place it in a hydrator drawer or store it in a plastic bag and refrigerate for up to one month.
  • Celeriac may be stored for 6-8 months under proper root cellar conditions.
  • Celeriac may be dried and made into an excellent seasoning.

Celery

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Celery (Apium graveoleus)

Wild celery was one of the first vegetables to appear in written history. In ancient Greece, celery had a medicinal reputation. In Egypt, its seeds were prized as a spice. In China, Confucius wrote about wild celery around 500 B.C. In America, celery has been cultivated since 1874, when Dutch farmers gave celery samples to train travelers to popularize the vegetable. Celery is a good source of fiber, and is reputed to lower blood pressure.

Storage Tips:

 

  • Refrigerate as soon as possible or celery will go limp. Warp in damp towel or place in a plastic bag and store in the hydrator drawer of the refrigerator. It should keep for up to two weeks. Retain maximum crispness by storing stems upright in a container with an inch of water.
  • For long-term storage celery can be frozen. Slice into rounds, then spread out on a cookie sheet and place into freezer. When all is frozen, place into airtight container or zip-lock bag and return to freezer. Celery pieces will be soft when thawed and are best used in soups or stews.

Chard

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Swiss Chard (Beta vulgaris)

 

Indigenous to the Mediterranean, chard is often referred to as Swiss chard, after a Swiss botanist wrote of it in the 16th century. Chard is a dark leafy green similar to beet greens and spinach, but chard contains no oxalic acid, which tends to bind minerals during digestion and make them unavailable. These greens are packed with vitamins A, E, C, iron, and calcium.

 Storage Tips:

  • Wrap chard in damp towel or place in plastic bag and keep in the hydrator drawer of the refrigerator.
  • Chard is best used fresh but will keep for 2-4 days if kept moist and refrigerated.
  • Chard freezes well. Blanch chopped leaves for 3 minutes, rinse in cold water, drain, and place in airtight container or zip-lock bag. Freeze.

Chinese Cabbage

Chinese Cabbage (Brassica rapa var. pekinensis)

Also called Napa cabbage, hakusai and pe-tsai, Chinese cabbage is among the first transplants of spring. This vegetable has been cultivated throughout Asia since 500 AD In Korea, it is pickled to make kimchee, and it is important in Japanese cuisine as well.

The name "Napa" comes from Napa Valley, California, where the cabbage was first cultivated in the US. It is high in folic acid, potassium, and fiber.

Storage Tips:

 

  • Do not remove all of the outer tough leaves before storage. They will help retain moisture, keeping the inside crisp and fresh.
  • Keep Chinese cabbage in the hydrator drawer of the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Collards

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Collard Greens (Brassica oleracea var. acephala)

Collard greens are one of the oldest members of the cabbage family. They probably originated in the Mediterranean region, then spread all over much of the tropical and subtropical world. Collards first came to America on slave ships from Africa and are mostly consumed in those regions where slavery existed. A crucial ingredient of southern "soul food," collards supply folic acid, calcium, potassium, iron, and vitamin A.

Storage Tips:

 

  • Refrigerate collard in the hydrator drawer. A plastic bag to retain moisture is helpful.
  • Properly stored, collard can last up to three weeks in the refrigerator.

Corn

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Corn (Zea mays)

 

It is usually accepted that maize was growing in Mesoamerica by between 8000 and 5000 B.C. Christopher Columbus first brought maize to Spain, and from there, the grain has traveled all over the world. Although the flavor and nutritional value of old maize varieties have been sacrificed in the search for sweetness, corn is a great source of complex carbohydrates.

A few suggestions from shareholder Judy Demerath about freezing sweet corn: Don't boil it for two minutes--just drop it in boiling water and as soon as the water boils again, it is done! Also, she tells of a friend who has been freezing it without cooking it first for years and gets excellent results. Just cut it off the cob, place in freezer bags, and put it in the freezer.

Or, if you have a lot of space, just put the whole ear in--that works too, but takes up a lot of your freezer.

Cucumber

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Cucumbers (Cucumis sativa)

Cucumbers were enjoyed by the ancient Egyptians, Romans and Greeks; though they were first cultivated in India nearly 3,000 years ago. As they are 95% water, cucumbers are a refreshing, cool fruit-just like their melon relatives. Cucumbers' high vitamin E content makes them an effective skin conditioner as well.

Storage Tips:

 

  • Cucumbers can be stored in the fridge for a week or so.

Dill

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Dill (Anethum graveolens)

This feathery herb has blue-green leaves with a bright, clean, summery taste. It has an assertive but clear aroma like celery, with a freshness like parsley and a hint of anise-like sweetness. It is common in European cooking and is the standard flavoring for pickles. It also combines well with green beans, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, tomatoes, parsnips, potatoes, spinach, squash, eggplant, and eggs.

Try adding it to yogurt sauces or baking it in bread.