Week 35, 2022|Kristin Kimball|September 2, 2022

We’ve arrived at the delicious time of year where the tide of summer crops and the tide of cool weather crops converge. It’s also the prime moment to think forward to late winter and early spring when you will be eager to have some of this bounty stored in your freezer or lined up in pretty glass jars. This week’s star, in its annual moment of perfection, is broccoli rabe. Also known as rapini, this is a green with a strong personality, most often found in Italian cuisine. It’s a closer relative to turnip than to broccoli, and the dominant flavor is sharply bitter. Some people (maybe the ones with larger brains?) enjoy bitter flavors, especially when paired with strong-willed companions like garlic and hot pepper, but if you want to tone it down and make it more palatable for those who don’t love bitter, you should blanch it in heavily salted water before sauteing it. As long as you have the water boiling, you might as well blanch a little extra for the freezer.  Here’s a good rundown on basic rapini facts and preparation, and here for freezing.

    I have sung their praises earlier this season but I have to repeat: this is the best pepper year in Essex Farm history. The sweet varieties, the hot varieties, and those in between are ripe, thick-walled, and beyond delicious. At the morning meeting today Bethany urged me to tell you this is the time to put some of these pepper beauties in the freezer, or make your supply of hot sauce. They won’t be around much longer. If we run out this week, she offered to personally go to the field and harvest more for you, because she wants them to be loved in the way they deserve. Love you Bethany! Other highlights of the week are arugula and a new variety of sweet corn called Sugar Buns. These ears are on the smaller side, but sweet and delicious. Yesterday was the plant team’s last day of transplanting. The final round of greens went in, along with a last planting of beets, overwintering scallions, and a hail Mary planting of fennel.

    In animal news, the dairy cows are still hiking long distances twice a day to get to green grass. They have been the ones who show it first when forage quality is decreased by drought. We are feeding them some of the precious winter hay. Pigs are loving the pasture! And Anne, Nick and Tully were at Lewis Family Farm yesterday to sort the ram lambs out of the ewe/lamb flock. Have I mentioned that this flock has been grazing those gorgeous fields all season, under Paul Versnick’s watchful eye? They left here as soon as the lambs could follow their mothers, and will come home this fall, transformed by grass from little white fluffy babes to sturdy sheep. It has been an enormous blessing to have them there, especially this year, with rainfall and hence forage very scarce all over the neighborhood. Thank you to everyone at LFF for building a grazer’s paradise and making it available for a lot of hungry ovine mouths this year. Now, let’s just hope my record keeping and castration were on point this year, and we have no stray testicles or surprise lambs this spring.

    Mark’s gearing up for tomorrow’s farm tour, which happens at 11:00. The focus is on diversified small scale agriculture, what it looks like, and why we do it. Please join us if you can, and thanks to Adirondack Harvest for sponsoring this tour as part of Open Farm Weekend. And then, remember our auction is happening next Saturday, September 10, beginning at 9:00. We can accept some farm items on consignment, so text Mark at 518-570-6399 if you have something you’d like to get into the lineup. That’s the news from Essex Farm for this glorious labor day weekend, the 35th week of 2022. Find us at essexfarm@gmail.com, on Instagram at essexfarmcsa, or on the farm, any day but Sunday.

-Kristin & Mark Kimball