Get ready for CSA season

Hi, folks, Emily Freehling here. I am a returning member of the Snead’s CSA and former writer for The Free Lance-Star. I’m going to be sharing recipes and kitchen strategies this year for making the most of your CSA share.

Look for my posts each week. I cook for a family of four that includes two small children. My style is simple, homemade and relatively healthy.

We are just two weeks away from the first CSA pickup of the year, and I wanted to offer a few tips for preparing your kitchens and your cooking routines for the volume of farm-fresh goods that will be coming into your house very soon.

Here are a few things I’d recommend having around:

A large salad spinner – You will receive a lot of beautiful bunches of greens in the first weeks of the CSA, from chard to bok choy to mustard greens to kale. I like to keep them wrapped in paper towels, unwashed, in my crisper drawer (or the general fridge, when that fills up) until I’m ready to use them. Then I chop them and place them in the salad spinner, fill it up with water, swoosh the leaves around, drain and spin. I do this two or three times if the leaves seem extra dirty (Incidentally, don’t worry if you find a friendly inchworm or two amid your greens, these DO come straight from the farm.). Then they’re ready for my recipes. Make sure to get a larger salad spinner. Aim for one that says it’s for 4 to 6 servings or more.

Assorted colanders – You will want to have plenty of other colanders on hand for washing and holding snap peas, green beans and other veggies, and for washing berries.

A good knife – You’re a lot more likely to cut yourself with a dull knife than a sharp one. Make sure yours is up to the task, and make sure you store it where the kids can’t find it.

A large, steady cutting board – You will be processing a lot of fresh produce, so make sure you have a good-quality cutting board that won’t slide around, and that can hold a large quantity of chopped vegetables. I like a thick wooden block, about two feet on each side.

A notebook for meal planning – The best way to make sure you use what you bring home is to plan your meals around the weekly allotment. Snead’s usually posts a sneak preview of what you’ll be receiving on Tuesday night, so you can start planning then.

A clean fridge – Now is a great time to clean out your crisper drawers and otherwise spruce up your fridge and food storage areas. This is on my to-do list before the first pickup. The vegetables you are going to bring home from Snead’s are so much more beautiful than the wilted ones you’ve been staring at in the supermarket all winter long. I like to have a clean space to bring them home to.

I’ll be back next week with some last-minute tips for what to expect at pickup and how to get the most out of your Snead’s experience!

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