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Tools to maximize your CSA share

It's still a couple of months before CSA deliveries will be hitting the streets, but never too early to prepare. I thought it might be a helpful to share a few ideas of products that can enhance your CSA experience. Below are three items that I recommend you consider, in order to optimize the value and enjoyment of your share...

1. Fermentation Kit

Garlic scapes and red pepper flakes

Pickling is a great way to preserve the harvest. Specifically, pickling via lacto fermentation preserves garden veggies while providing a tasty treat - full of healthy probiotics. Kimchi and sauerkraut are classic examples of fermented pickles - but it can be rewarding and challenging to ferment many different foods such as radishes, garlic scapes or even extra summer squash. We recommend Kraut Source as great place to get started with the know-how and basic tools to get started. A canning jar and simple stainless steel airlock is really all you need to get started, and I guarantee you will marvel at this novel expansion of your culinary prowess! And (if you're half as easily amused as me) you may just find yourself trapped with eyes at kitchen counter level, counting the bubbles dancing off the bottom of your pickle jar.

2. Beer Can Chicken Rack

When we started raising chicken for meat, it changed how we looked at meal preparation. While it is absolutely doable to partition chicken breast, legs, and thighs, most often we just cook a whole chicken. This way, there's plenty for dinner, sandwiches tomorrow and the carcass for stock. Hands down, the best way to cook a whole chicken in the summer is on a can of beer. Seriously. If you haven't tried beer can chicken then I am honored to be party to your first encounter. Rub the bird with olive oil and your house seasoning blend, shove a beer can up the cavity (drink half first) and stand it upright on your grill (indirect heat) until the inner thigh hits 180 degrees. You can't mess this up. Some tips: charcoal beats propane, PBR beats coors, and low and slow is the way to go - remember, we're talking pasture raised poultry here; these chickens are lean and mean, and you will be rewarded if you take the time to let the meat fall from the bone. As far as tools go - you can get away with propping up the chicken on a tripod of one beer can and two legs. However, i'd recommend any of the widely available racks that help hold everything together - this way, when you're finishing the 6-pack of PBR and playing lawn darts, the bird won't fall over into the charcoal and catch the new pergola on fire.

3. Salad Spinner

A lot of salad spinners looked like 'as-seen-on-tv' gimmicks to me when I first heard of them. But there's no quicker way to rinse (and dry) lettuce and greens for salad. If our CSA is successful, you'll be going through some serious greens this summer - so if you don't already have one, maybe consider something like this one available on amazon. Besides, it's a cool way to teach the kids about centrifugal force.

Just some ideas. Of course you won't really need any new gadgets at all, but half the fun of fresh food is learning new ways to prepare it. I hope these items spark your interest and get your creative juices flowing - please share any other ideas you may have about helpful tools or ways to prepare real food!

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