Surplus Season

by Zoë Abram

I love to hear the reasons people participate in CSA. As a former CSA member, I know logistics are important; deciding to join a CSA is a commitment that means thinking about your schedule, about the price or the work/share exchange, and about the amount of food you receive. Joining my first CSA was the first time I really felt awash in produce. It can be overwhelming, but it’s a welcome reminder about the nourishing nature of CSA. The CSA model contains ideas about how we should relate to each other, to what we eat and to the soil. There are never-ending big questions to tackle: how to structure the share to make it accessible and affordable, about outreach and how to foster an invested and involved community. These questions encourage us to dig deeper, to fine-tune the model so it works best for our community. For me, CSA  has the potential to radically change the way we manage risk for farmers, the way farmers can prioritize biodiversity and soil improvement. It transforms the economic interaction of purchasing food from an opportunistic one to one that includes a concept of enough, a mutually beneficial relationship. The security CSA provides farmers allows members to experience the growing season in ways they might not otherwise. The fresh and spicy tasting vegetables in spring, the joy of first fruits harvest, the sweet abundance of summer, and the storage vegetables in fall.

We’re in the abundance stage, and we hope you rejoice in it! As unit sizes increase for peak season summer crops, members get to share in the surplus of the season. Especially at this point in summer, when second and third successions of the same crop catch up quickly to older plants in the heat.

So what do you do with 2 pounds of squash, for example? Or the 4 slicing cucumbers you’re offered each week?  Squash is tasty in frittata, ratatouille, roasted, in salad, on pizza … and in countless other ways.  But if you can’t eat it all now: preserve it!  It’s quick: grate zucchini and pack it in a freezer bag. Frozen zucchini is good for baking, and for fritters or zucchini patties in winter. It’s fun to look up quick and simple ways to preserve many vegetables; the internet is full of people with ideas for preserving. Frozen peppers and corn are precious and sweet in March, when I’ve forgotten how plentiful they were.

One idea for your slicing cucumbers:

Cucumber Soup
4 large cucumbers, peeled
1 tablespoon fine-chopped fresh dill
1 tablespoon fine-chopped fresh mint
2 teaspoons champagne vinegar
24 ounces plain yogurt
2 tablespoons olive oil oil
1/4 cup soda water
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper

Chop 3 of the cucumbers and throw them into the blender. Remove the seeds from the third cucumber. Throw the seeds into the blender, then fine dice and set aside the rest of the cucumber for garnishing later. Put the rest of the ingredients into the blender and mix it all up. Season to taste.

Refrigerate the soup for at least 1 hour before eating, and preferably overnight. Top each bowl of soup with a handful of fine-diced fresh cucumber.

(Savory and sweet ice pops seem to be a big trend these days …  to make these into popsicles, pour some of the chilled soup into ice pop molds or paper cups and let them freeze for at least 4 hours.)

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