Homegrown

fresh picks

July 19, 2017 - CSA Week 10
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Fresh from the Farm

Tomatoes, maybe you’ve heard of them?

Get ready, it’s tomato time.  Tomatoes produce over a long season and we have no choice but to keep picking them.  And if we’re picking them, they’re going in CSA shares.  We try to share the abundance while also not overwhelming you – if you want more, come to the Farm Stand and they’ll be here.  Generally, you’ll see 1-3 lbs. of tomatoes a week; if yields are as expected.  Some weeks we’ll load you up, and on occasion we’ll make you miss them, just for the effect.

Our tomatoes come in a variety of shapes, sizes, colors, and attitudes.  I tell you, the colors are my favorites: red of course, and also pink, purple, deep mahogany, white, yellow, orange, sunburst of orange and red.  I also like the lumpy ones, the igors with asymmetrical shoulders, bulbous sides and zippers and scars.  These departures from your supermarket tomato don’t in any way indicate quality.  In fact, they often indicate high quality.  These are varieties that haven’t been bred so much to look “right” as they are to live well in a soil, or express a color or shape that reminds us of where we came from, or to thrive in a climate.  Quality you’ll find in flavor, thickness of skin and flesh, juiciness, acidity, and stage of ripeness; but mostly flavor, which for many vegetables indicates the health of the plant, and often of the soil, though there are more variables at play

Tomatoes, maybe you’ve heard of them?

Get ready, it’s tomato time.  Tomatoes produce over a long season and we have no choice but to keep picking them.  And if we’re picking them, they’re going in CSA shares.  We try to share the abundance while also not overwhelming you – if you want more, come to the Farm Stand and they’ll be here.  Generally, you’ll see 1-3 lbs. of tomatoes a week; if yields are as expected.  Some weeks we’ll load you up, and on occasion we’ll make you miss them, just for the effect.

Our tomatoes come in a variety of shapes, sizes, colors, and attitudes.  I tell you, the colors are my favorites: red of course, and also pink, purple, deep mahogany, white, yellow, orange, sunburst of orange and red.  I also like the lumpy ones, the igors with asymmetrical shoulders, bulbous sides and zippers and scars.  These departures from your supermarket tomato don’t in any way indicate quality.  In fact, they often indicate high quality.  These are varieties that haven’t been bred so much to look “right” as they are to live well in a soil, or express a color or shape that reminds us of where we came from, or to thrive in a climate.  Quality you’ll find in flavor, thickness of skin and flesh, juiciness, acidity, and stage of ripeness; but mostly flavor, which for many vegetables indicates the health of the plant, and often of the soil, though there are more variables at play than just that.

Most of the tomatoes you see here are “slicers,” (I prefer a bread knife for cutting), or “beefsteaks.” They’re good for slicing and doing just about anything to: on and in sandwiches, eggs, pasta, salads, soups (think: gazpacho, it’s hot!)… even other tomatoes.  A pinch of salt on them brings out more flavor.  These are what you know.  They’re tomatoes.  You know what to do with them.  And if you don’t, you won’t go wrong trying them in any fashion.

We also grow cherry tomatoes, little balls of sweet, and paste tomatoes.  Unlike the beefsteaks, we’ve just about given up growing a wide variety of cherry tomatoes.  We found one we like and stick with it. Every time I try the Yellow Pears and Black Thumb and Super Sweet 100s I’m disappointed.  There is one variety, one seed that I’m trying to track down, but otherwise it’s Sungold or bust.  I admit there’s a lot of pressure to grow the rainbow of cherries and pack them in pints and show you how foodie we are, but we already do that with the oddball squash and Big Rainbow slicer and kohlrabi.  Our cherry tomatoes are orange and sweet.  Eat them or don’t.

Paste tomatoes have a thicker wall and less juiciness, and are used for making sauce, salsa and some soups.  Generally, paste tomatoes have a short season here, so if you’re looking for them, don’t waste any time when we announce their presence at the Farm Stand.

Storing tomatoes.

Keep tomatoes on the counter top.  Got it?  Don’t ever put our tomatoes in the fridge.  If you do you’re fired from the CSA.  Tomatoes keep best around 55°F.  Your kitchen counter will be fine.  Tomatoes with a deep color and skin starting to soften need to be eaten most quickly.  We also harvest some just before they’re fully ripe.  These ones will keep longer on the counter and continue to ripen, to be ready later in the week.  Unlike many vegetables, tomatoes ripen well off the vine – as long as they’re still picked when they’re a good ways through the process.  That is, the tomatoes you buy in the store are picked before they’ve ripened enough (if at all), so that they’ll ship better.  They get gassed with ethylene in the truck as they cross the country.  That turns them red but they’re not truly developed into what they could be (although they’re not bred to be as great as a fresh market variety).  That’s why they’re often white inside.  And taste like manila file folders.  Bleh.  Point is – don’t ever put them in the fridge.  If you’re in a rush and want them to ripen faster, put them in a paper bag.  More likely, though, they’re going to get real ripe and you just need to eat them when you get them.  Why wait, anyway?

Sweet corn.  

Alex R says the taste of our sweet corn right now rivals New Jersey.  Deb says she’s never tasted the state of NJ, but I have, and I know it to be true.  That’s (actually) a compliment.  But if you took that wrong and you like yours authentic NJ style, we can sprinkle some Turnpike on it.  EZ Pass for me.  Enjoy it now, our later plantings have experienced poor road conditions on the Garden State Parkway at the Everfield Drive exit and we may not have as long a season as we expected.

See you at the Farm Stand.  In the meantime, be great,

Mike, Deb, Annie, James, Nathan, Anya, Jennifer (and Greta her Come-Along baby), Alex, Alex, animals starring Bella the farm dog and Radish the ridiculous 1, Goats x how many now Deb?, chickens minus another one, pigs, turkeys (pretty cute) and surely something else that Deb bought and didn’t tell me about.  Oh, and Roscoe RIP and Popcorn, who sends his Greetings from Asbury Park.  Free pot pie to the best answer to What is he doing there?

 
 
Farm Stand Hours
Tues. – Fri.: 2pm – 7pm | Sat.: 9am – 2pm
 
 

In the CSA Bag This Week

LARGE SHARES:
Sweet corn, Red cabbage, Tomatoes, Basil, Garlic, Cucumbers, Summer squash/zuke, Salad mix, Melon and Cherry tomatoes

SMALL SHARES:
Sweet corn, Red cabbage, Tomatoes, Basil, Garlic and Eggplant

Weekly Features

Willowsford Honey
Commonwealth Joe Coffee

Featured Items at the Farmstand

Seasonal vegetables and fruit Willowsford Farm and Tuscarora Organic Co-op

Free-range eggs from Willowsford Farm

Milk, butter, yogurt and ice cream from Trickling Springs Creamery and Pequea Valley Farm

Fresh baked breads and sweets from Lyon Bakery

Goat Cheese from Georges Mill

Cows milk cheeses from Mountain View Farm Products

Sauerkrauts, pickles and relish from Sweet Farm

MTO Kombucha

Granolas from Cool Mama

King of Pops

Beef and Pork from Heritage Hollow Farm

Lamb from New Asbury Farm

Willowsford Farm Whole Chicken

Flowers from Greenstone Fields

All Natural Grains from Woodsons Mill

Commonwealth Joe Coffee

Prepared foods from Willowsford Kitchen

Seasonal fruit, ketchup and sauces from Three Springs Fruit Farm

Pure Love Macarons

 
 

All About Tomatoes

Soon tomato season will wind down for the year, so be sure to eat your fill because they are at their peak flavor. Nowadays, there are so many different varieties of tomatoes to choose from thanks to the popularity of heirlooms (varieties of fruits and vegetables that have been passed down from generation to generation by home gardeners; never grown on a commercial scale). Heirloom tomatoes often look homely, but they taste incredible.

You’ll find tomatoes in all shapes and sizes and in all manner of colors, from red to yellow and orange (both appreciated for their lower acidity) to purple and even white ones. Explore and experiment. There’s nothing quite like a sun-drenched, vine ripe tomato.

At the Stand

Tomatoes that smell good will taste good. Other than fragrance, try to pick rich-colored tomatoes that are firm but not rock-hard. Cherry tomatoes should be plump and feel heavy for their size. Avoid tomatoes with any blemishes, wrinkles or cuts.
how to store

Put tomatoes that aren’t ripe in a bowl or on a plate in a sunny spot in the kitchen, after a few days they’ll soften and improve in flavor. Always store tomatoes at room temperature. The chilly fridge saps their flavor and gives them a mealy texture. It’s best to use ripe tomatoes within a few days.

Easy Preparations

Tomatoes are absolutely delicious eaten fresh off the vine, but also do nicely broiled, baked, grilled, sautéed or stewed. A quick and painless way to remove the skin from a tomato is to cut a small “x” in the base then plunge it into boiling water for 10 to 20 seconds. When the “x” starts to loosen, remove the tomato with a slotted spoon and drop it into a bowl of ice water to cool. The skin will peel off easily afterwards.

Cherry tomatoes are wonderful eaten by hand. Keep a bowl of ripe, washed and dried tomatoes on the kitchen counter for easy, sweet snacking. At your next cookout, grill cherry tomatoes in a tin foil pouch with a touch of olive oil and salt.

Tastes Good With

  • Basil
  • Cheese
  • Eggplant
  • Olive oil
  • Onion
  • Parmesan
  • Parsley
  • Peppers
  • Thyme

From the Kitchen

Recipes and tips are created for each week’s harvest by Willowsford’s Culinary Director, Bonnie Moore.

CLICK on the links below for this week’s fresh from the kitchen recipes:

Grilled Garlic Bread with Tomatoes & Basil
This variation of the beloved antipasto from Italy makes a versatile end-of-summer dish. Any variety of tomato will work. The secret is to rub the warm, grilled bread with garlic lightly for a mild flavor and liberally for a sharper garlic bite. Serve it as a light lunch, appetizer or side dish. Makes 12.

Raw Zucchini & Tomato Salad
If you think you’re not a fan of summer squash, this fresh tasting salad will make you think again. It’s easy to overcook summer squash and end up with a mushy mess. Try it raw, you’ll appreciate the refreshing crunch on a hot summer day. Serves 4.

What's Happening

Willowsford Farm Volunteer Hours
Sunday, August 6 from 3 to 5 PM at Willowsford Farm in The Grange (23595 Founders Drive, Ashburn). Top jobs around the veggie farm in August may include: tomato harvesting, weeding and then more weeding. This is a volunteer session for heat and insect tolerant young adults and adults. Tomatoes are a high-value crop for us, so the harvest will begin with detailed instructions and require grit and the physical strength to carry 50 lbs at a time. And weeding in the dog days of summer is no easy task so if you are looking for a challenge, come on by! Wear sunblock, put a hat on, and bring lots of water.

Create an account and register.

Willowsford Farm Tour
Sunday, August 6 from 5 to 6 PM at Willowsford Farm in The Grange (23595 Founders Drive, Ashburn). August can be hot and buggy, so join us this month for a twilight, evening tour of the Grange Farm. You’ll see melons, squash and our later successions of peppers and tomatoes in the fields. We’ll talk about what’s happening in the crop calendar in late summer, what’s being or soon-to-be seeded, harvested, preserved or stored. This is a great tour for veggie-loving neighbors, beginner farmers, scout groups, and local food aficionados. *Note: The tour begins in the Farm Garden. Please park in the lot on Founders Drive, across the street from the Farm Stand.

Create an account and register.

 

CSA Pick Up Hours & Locations

FARM STAND: Tuesdays & Wednesdays 3:30 – 6:30 PM, Saturdays 9:00 – 2:00 PM

BOAT HOUSE: Wednesdays 3:30 – 6:00 PM, Saturdays 10:00 – 2:00 PM

Willowsford Conservancy

44095 Pipeline Plaza, Ashburn, VA 20147

Phone: 571-252-3727

info@willowsfordconservancy.org

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Willowsford Farm Stand

23595 Founders Drive, Ashburn, VA 20148

Phone: 571-297-6900

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