What's In Your Basket?
Sugar Buns Sweet Corn
Zucchini & Summer Squash
Produce Tips - How to Eat It, Cook It and Keep It!
If I had to guess, I’d say that the molecular make-up of my body is at least one tenth Italian plum. And not just any Italian plum; I mean these Italian plums. The farm driveway is lined with a half dozen crooked, lichen-covered Italian plum trees that have stood there for decades – pre-dating my birth on Floras Creek, my sister’s birth on Floras Creek, and even my parents’ arrival on Floras Creek in the early 70s. These are wise old trees.
And each year come September, they are prolific bearers of honey-hearted, dusky purple plums. Abby and I were raised on these plums: fresh in September, and dried, canned and frozen the rest of the year. My mom’s dried plums have saved me from the brink of many a blood sugar crash on backpacking adventures, roadtrips, and bleak, late-night strandings where Cheetos and Sprite would have been the only thing to eat at a gas station, were it not for the jar of dried plums in the backseat. When Abby and I were at college on the east coast, Mom would FedEx bags of them to us – along with half gallon tubs of Nancy’s Honey yogurt.
In record-breaking plum years, we have harvested up to 1000 pounds of fruit off of these few trees. This year, the harvest was moderate at about 400 pounds. I missed the picking because I was in D.C. this weekend, but have been in full-on plum gorge mode since my return on Sunday.
We’ve sent you a sampler basket of them this week and my suggestion to you is straight-forward: just eat them (mind the pits). If you want to get a little fancier with them, try this Rustic Plum Cake recipe. And after tasting them, if you decide you want a higher percentage of your molecular make-up to be Italian Plum like us, contact us. We have bulk plums available by the pound for canning, drying, freezing, baking, and plain old munching.
As for storage, leave your plums on the counter. They are soft to the squeeze when ripe. The firm ones will ripen up over a couple of days (faster if you put them in a brown paper bag).
Sugar Buns Sweet Corn
Oh heavenly sweet corn. In our microclimate, sweet corn is an exercise in delayed gratification. While everyone else in the Willamette Valley has been gnawing fresh corn on the cob for the last month (or more), Abby’s corn has been slowly, steadily inching towards maturity. Cooler days and nights near the coast usually mean that her corn is only shin high by the Fourth of July, but it also means that September is a glory month if you are a corn-o-phile. The only downside of our late corn season is that as organic growers we are more susceptible to corn earworm, a gross, juicy larva that likes to nestle into the tip of the corn cob and munch away at the kernels. You may encounter a corn earworm or two this week. If you do, simply cut the tip off the cob. The worms usually only affect the tip.
After years of trialing lots of different varieties, Abby mainly grows Sugar Buns, a sweet, tender yellow corn. She also plants her corn in succession, so there should be more to come in the next couple of weeks.
If you’re not going to eat your corn right away, store it in the fridge in a plastic bag. Remember that once picked, the sugars in sweet corn begin to convert to starch – so eat it soon!
You are not hallucinating. Some of the tomatoes in your share this week are indeed green, purple, orange, striped, or somewhat contorted-looking. We grow a handful of heirloom tomato varieties in the greenhouses, including:
- Cherokee Purple: A deep, purple-brown variety with green shoulders and sweet, tangy flavor
- Green Zebra: A greenish-yellow tomato with zebra stripes and tangy flavor
- Tigerella: A red and orange striped tomato, on the small side, with tangy flavor
- Brandywine: A big, beefy pink-red variety with greenish shoulders and sweet flavor
- Striped German: A big tomato with all the color of the sunset marbled into its sweet flesh
- Persimmon: Bearing a striking resemblance to its namesake, this is the meatiest, sweetest tomato we grow!
- Valencia: A medium, deep orange tomato that won our blind taste tests last summer.
Heirlooms are a little finicky to grow, maturing later than many tomatoes, yielding less, and straying far from the uniform. It’s why they are more expensive in the store. But fundamentally, heirloom tomatoes are the populists in the Solanum family. What makes an heirloom an heirloom is the fact that they are open-pollinated (as opposed to hybrids) and you can save your own seed from the fruits you grow. The official definition of an “heirloom” also has to do with how many generations it’s been saved for, where it originated, etc., but at core it is a variety that anyone can grow, save seed from, and share with others.
Store your tomatoes on the counter – NOT in the fridge (!). They are great sliced in rounds, fanned out on a plate, and drizzled with olive oil and salt. Take it a step further with some fresh mozzarella and basil for a fresh caprese salad…
On the Farm....
I have shaken off the jetlag, coaxed my bones back into the strawberry-picking crouch, and traded the ironed business attire for the perma-stained farmwear again. It’s good to be home.