It's easy to eat seasonally when the fields are full of tomatoes and the trees are heavy with peaches, as I write in this week's review of Potager. But abundance, whether in August or May, brings its own challenges.
This counter-intuitive lesson is one I learned first-hand when I was a part of a CSA.
I remember one spring when I went to the farm to pick asparagus. Donning boots because the fields were squelchy with mud, I walked up and down rows, snapping all stalks thicker than a pencil and longer than my hand. My basket filled quickly, and while I knew it had been a good harvest, I didn't know how good until I got home and put it on the scale: eleven pounds, or roughly $70 worth of organic spears at a store.
Storing it proved to be trickier than navigating the mud. Gathering up all the Mason jars I could find, plus washed-out jam jars and sturdy plastic cups, I filled every shelf in my refrigerator with asparagus bouquets, and what wouldn't fit in the water-filled jars got wrapped in wet tea towels and tucked in the crisper.
Even harder was figuring out new ways of cooking the asparagus so that my family wouldn't revolt. Over the next few weeks, I served asparagus roasted, steamed and stir-fried. I froze numerous batches of asparagus soup to pull out the following winter. In the end, the recipe everyone loved most was one I found in a dog-eared, 1995 copy of Gourmet for lemon asparagus pasta.
For the first time this year, Teri Rippeto is offering farm shares through Potager; find more Colorado community-supported agriculture programs here. But beware excess asparagus.
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