I love my CSA, for getting the freshest local veggies, knowing that I am supporting the farmers in my community, connecting with likeminded neighbors and investing in my local food system – it’s the best. But sometimes I get a little overwhelmed with just how many gorgeous veggies I come home with every week, and I know I’m not alone. Here are a few tips and tricks, if you’re like me and you love your CSA, but need strategies for using everything effectively.
Here’s how to handle your CSA overload:
- Plan Ahead: A little bit of planning can go a long way. Most CSAs will send you a list of what you are going to get in advance, and it is great to start thinking about what other ingredients you might need to get those beautiful veggies on your plate and avoid an extra shopping trip.
- Prep and Store: Most veggies like to be stored dry and in an airtight container or plastic bag in the fridge to maximize their shelf life, but when you are prepping for one meal, do yourself a favor and prep some extra items for the next one. They won’t last as long one they are washed and sliced, but it majorly streamlines your prep time. Plus, I know I am much more likely to cook if half the work is already done. Suddenly that frozen pizza is much less appealing…
- Lighten Your Load: Most CSAs offer a half share, if you find that you consistently have too much fresh produce to handle, see if you can reduce your share.
- Phone a Friend: If you are only overloaded some of the time, find someone who will be happy to share with you. Community building is part of the fun of being a CSA member, right?
- Preserves, no canning required: I usually don’t have time for elaborate preserve making, so I utilize my freezer and some quick, pickling techniques. When you have a large batch of something, freeze the extra in manageably sized portions while it’s fresh. (If you wait until it’s past its prime, you won’t want to thaw it later.) For pickled veggies, I will pack them in a jar with peppercorns and cover with a boiling solution of vinegar, salt and water then keep it in the fridge once cooled, you have yummy pickles in a couple days that will keep for weeks. Other times, if I know I won’t get to something for a while – I will toss it with a little salt and lime, lemon or vinegar to slow down spoilage. This is great for steamed green beans, broccoli or carrots- put them in a salad or top with some chopped herbs or nuts. Stews are also very forgiving for less than perfect produce.
- Don’t beat yourself up! Nobody is perfect and we can only do our best. If you have to toss some things out sometimes, it’s not the end of the world – I promise.
Mieko Diener is a dietetic intern from the University of Michigan School of Public Health, she has an MPH in nutritional science. Find your CSA farm at localdifference.org