Tips and tidbits for using produce from the garden:
Here are some helpful hints and information about most of the crops we grow. This doesn’t include any herbs, or any of the new things we are trying each year, but we hope it is a place to start.
Leeks: substitute for cooking onions in most dishes. Very nice in soups, quiches, tomato and white sauces. Firmer green parts can go in soup stocks.
Too many? Just chop and freeze in bags, no blanching necessary.
Onions: Keep best at room temperature with air movement. Early onions and red ones are sweeter. Small ones are great for roasting or marinating in salad dressings.
Scallions: Also known as green onions. Ready before any onions and can be substituted. Add green parts to the end of cooking process or top on soup or potatoes.
Garlic: Scapes are the top flower stalks and buds, they are strong raw, but mild when cooked. Freshly harvested garlic should be used within a week. Stores best like onions, at room temperature, but needs lots of air around it.
Cabbage: Summer ones are more watery, very good for coleslaw. Savoy cabbage is mild. Try quartering it and steaming, then add butter. Fall/winter cabbage is more firm and can hold its form in soups.
Broccoli: Is often either abundant or scarce, depending on the season. Summer plantings have green cabbage worms in them. Soak in salt water to get them out. CSA broccoli stems are often much sweeter than store bought.
Cauliflower: In hot weather they tend to discolour and are often small.
Cauliflower requires lots of fertility, so we don’t do too much.
Brussel’s Sprouts: We harvest after a good frost in fall. We give out the whole stalk for ease of harvest. Use the very smallest ones too. Don’t overcook, they should be bright green, but tender.
Kale: Is always sweeter after frost. Siberian Kale is more tender and we grow it in summer. Fall kale is good in soups and quiches, try steaming it with leeks.
Kohlrabi: Cut away the fibrous outer skin. White interior should be crisp and sweet, eat raw or cooked.
Rutabaga: Fall/winter root. Often called ‘turnip’ in stores. Parboil and roast with other roots, or mash with potatoes.
Tatsoi: Dark green spoon shaped mustard. Can be used like spinach, but with a little zing.
Bok Choy: Mostly used in stir fries, use the green leaves at the end of cooking time.
Chinese Cabbage: Like bok choy, but also nice in salad. Best leafy storage crop for winter.
Mustard Mix: This mix varies depending on the time of year, and what has grown well. Can be salad, braised, or steamed.
Turnip: We just grow the summer variety. Just steam quickly until tender and eat like candy.
Radishes: Summer radishes for salad are sporadic due to organic growing requirements. Mostly grow the ‘French Breakfast’ type, known to be thinly sliced on bread with butter. Fall/winter varieties are denser and can be cooked as well as grated into salad.
Beets: Summer beets are sweeter, more tender, and take less cooking time. Tops have an earthy chard taste.
Swiss Chard: Try substituting them for any cooked spinach dish. Grows well during hot summer months. The stems are some peoples favourite part.
Spinach: It quickly goes to seed, so sometimes we have to harvest a lot at once. Easy to freeze, just blanch for a minute, cool, drain and put into bags.
Endive: A.k.a. Frisee, salad with bittersweet crispness. Add to finely grated carrot and sweet onion vinegrette. Also added to mashed potatoes.
Raddicchio: Salad with striking red colour, usually mixed with other greens. Liver tonifying bitterness mellowed if sliced thinly.
Chicory: Belgian Endive grown in the dark in winter. Eaten as salad or steamed.
Lettuce: Early and late plantings have many varieties. In the summer heat, only crisphead or iceberg types don’t turn bitter. If the heat has made it bitter, use a creamy dressing, or finely grated carrot to mellow.
Lettuce Mix: Easy tender salad of immature cut leaves. Hot weather also makes this bitter.
Melons: Canteloupe do best here, but all melons need hot weather to ripen and sweeten up.
Cucumbers: American slicing kind is easier to grow, European types need trellising.
Peel them starting at the flower end, towards the stem end. This keeps it sweeter.
Sometimes they are abundant. Try making a cool cucumber soup with yogurt, garlic and dill.
Pickles: These can also be used in salad. We try to grow enough for you to make pickles, but it can depend on the year.
Winter Squash: Roast them cut in half face down on a greased cookie sheet. Try a squash pie instead of pumpkin. Each type has its own character, and appeal to different people.
Pumpkin: One small one does two pies. Roast and add to soup, or a tomato sauce to thicken it.
Summer Squash: these are the zucchinis and other varieties. We harvest them ever day and a half to get them small and tender. If too many, try grating and freezing in bags for soup, bread or sauces.
Beans: We grow green and yellow fresh beans, just steam and eat. These are easy to freeze too.
Peas: All the peas we provide are edible pod – do not take them out of the shell. Snap and snow peas can be eaten as a raw snack, just destring and munch. Both are great in stir fries too.
Peppers: Red sweet Italian type we grow in the greenhouse, so supply is limited. We grow green bell peppers outside, which subjects them to Ontario weather. The large sweet thick walled type we only grow a bit since they do nothing in cool summers.
We try a number of different hot peppers each year, but the small red chilies always do well. Dry the chilies on a plate or tied up out of direct sunlight.
Tomatoes: The first ones from the greenhouse bring that long awaited fresh tomato flavour. Try all the different kinds, they each have a distinct taste. We generally give out the non-red tomatoes “Free Choice” try a mix in a salad. A food mill that takes out the seeds and skin is not all that expensive and makes great sauce. Processing tomatoes are a pick your own crop. If we have them in abundance we may pick for
Owen Sound members. Cherry tomatoes can be picked by members who come to the farm.
Eggplant: Very sensitive to weather, so not always abundant. Try roasting with sesame, peppers tomatoes and garlic.
Tomatillo: Slice into fresh salsa. If there are a lot, make ‘salsa verde’ by cooking with onions, garlic and hot peppers, and blend.
Potatoes: We don’t grow these. The scale of our garden does not lend itself to potato growing. To provide enough for everyone would be too demanding to do by hand, but not enough to justify the machinery required. For the winter shares we contract with a local organic potato grower who we buy from to distribute.
Celery: It is a challenge to produce pale raw celery in a humid climate. If the season isn’t just right, it is either very strong flavour, or has “black heart” a plant disease.
Any celery is good in soups and sauces, just slice thinly. Dry the leaves for a nice celery flavour in soups in winter.
Celeriac: Celery root – peel, cube and add to any soup. Parboil and roast with other winter roots. Grate into salad for an earthy celery taste.
Fennel: We grow the Florence bulbing type with a licorice taste. Break off the ‘scales’ and dip into olive oil and salt. Slice like celery and add to coleslaw. Add to tomato sauces and potatoes.
Carrots: We have good carrot soil, and aim for a constant supply over the season.
Summer carrots are never as sweet as in the fall after a good frost. To make them sweeter in a salad, grate very finely.
Parsnips: Fall and winter crop. Parboil and roast for ‘parsnip fries.’ Try a creamy parsnip soup, or how about a parsnip pie?
Corn: Sweet Corn has given us trouble over the years. If the crows don’t eat the seedling out of the ground, the raccoons eat the ears before they are ripe. Of the garden crops, corn requires the most compost. If we don’t get a crop at least the cows get to eat the stalks. We will keep trying different methods, since it is so good!