Aley Chubeza #233, January 26th-28th 2015

The month of January is nearing its end. At the end of this week we will bill your cards for this month’s purchases and endeavor to have the billing updated by the beginning of next week. 

You may view your billing history in our Internet-based order system. It’s easy. Simply click the tab “דוח הזמנות ותשלומים” where the history of your payments and purchases is clearly displayed. Please make sure the bill is correct, or let us know of any necessary revisions. At the bottom of the bill, the words סה”כ לתשלום: 0 (total due: 0) should appear. If there is any number other than zero, this means we were unable to bill your card and would appreciate your contacting us. We always have our hands full, and we depend on you to inform us. Our thanks!

Reminder: The billing is two-part: one bill for vegetables, fruits and sprouts you purchased over the past month (the produce that does not include VAT. The title of that bill is “תוצרת אורגנית”, organic produce). The second part is the bill for delivery and other purchases (This bill does include VAT. The title of the bill is “delivery and other products.”).

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Tu B’Shvat is near, and Melissa of Mipri Yadeha offers holiday baskets from the best of Israel’s products: organic dates, naturally dried raisins, carobs, nuts in their shells, and of course, her home products: naturally dried fruit and fruit leather with no additives, in a wide range of amazing flavors (clementine, fennel, apples and dates, guava and more.)

Each basket costs 60 NIS. Orders can be made via our order system. Happy Birthday, dear trees!

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Rooting for the soup!

Chubeza’s winter soup is super rich. It contains potatoes, of course, and carrots, pumpkin and leeks. But there are new kids on the block to join the broth. These include turnip, kohlrabi, fava beans, peas, cauliflower and cabbage, seasoned by Jerusalem artichokes, savory greens, and this week’s celeriac and parsley root. Hardly any room left for water in the pot…

Both the celeriac and parsley roots belong to the umbelliferae family (along with the carrot, coriander, dill, fennel and others.) They perform double duty for your soups: yummy and filling to munch on, as well as adding fragrance and flavor. Each of these roots has a green, stalk-like and faster growing “twin brother” that grows above earth, which has different uses in the kitchen. This week we’ll go a few feet under and talk about each member of the root duo.

Every plant needs roots and leaves, of course. The roots draw up the nutrients from the earth, and the leaves act as conduits to transform sunrays into available energy for the plant. This is why all parsley leaves have a root, and every parsley root has leaves (which look like… parsley, of course.) But not every parsley variety produces the root we call “root parsley.” The leaf parsley is satisfied with modest, thin roots and does not develop a thick root. The parsley root was developed over the years by farmers in the ongoing process of selecting preferred species and cultivating them. Thus, alongside the seeds kept from year to year from the plants boasting the biggest leaves or best taste or highest durability to extreme temperatures or pests, other seeds were kept as well– those of plants whose roots thickened. The “cultivated” result is the species we call “root parsley,” a savory delight to add to the soup. Today it is a totally different species than the parsley grown for its leaves.

The flavor has been described as a combination of celery, carrot, parsley and turnip. In short, a distinctive and indefinable flavor. It is somewhat sweet, but also earthy (as are most roots). Those of you who are familiar with the parsnip, note that the parsley root is not a parsnip! Though it looks a lot like the parsnip, the parsley root’s flavor is very different (not as sweet.)

Parsley greens probably originated in the European Mediterranean area, but the root was cultivated in northern Europe, perhaps due to the fact that roots can be stored for longer periods during the harsh winters of the region. The earliest we hear about the parsley root is in 16th century Germany. Other names for the root attest to this geographic connections: “Dutch Parsley” and “Hamburg Parsley”. Because it was so loved in the cold European countries, it earned a nickname: Petoushka

The root parsley only grows in wintertime. Unlike its sister which grows leaves in summer as well–even under the scorching Israeli sun–the root parsley hates heat, and grows in winter’ low temperatures and high humidity. It also needs a lot more time to reach maturity. The roots appearing in your boxes were seeded in autumn and have been growing underground for some five months now (leaf parsley is ready in two to three months). The main challenge in growing it is the thinning-out process. This parsley’s elongated roots need space to grow and fatten up, so it’s crucial to thin the bed which was manually seeded and thus grows plants in dense proximity. When we thin them, we remove some of the young sprouts, allowing their siblings some more “growing space.” We do not always do this in time, and therefore we pack a bunch of some smaller parsley roots in order to reach at a suitable-sized portion.

Like its brother the stalk celery, the celeriac is a cultivated species, meaning it was cultivated over hundreds of years. Farmers sought its thickened root, selecting from season to season only the celery varieties which produced the chubbiest, biggest roots. In this case, the stems remained short and thin, with a taste far more prominent than that of stalk celery. Often the stems are hollow, like a straw. When you look at a bed of stalk celery alongside one of celeriac, it’s easy to identify them by the different way the leaves grow. The former are erect and long, the latter chubby and spread out.

Celery is a plant which grows slowly. It starts with its teeny, tiny seeds which take their time, two-to-five weeks, till they sprout. After their diminutive sprouting, they need at least another two months of devoted care in the warm, protected temperature of the plant nursery. Only after three months are they ready to be planted. We receive the young’uns when they’re approximately three months of age and ready to be lifted out of their black plastic cube and placed in the fertile earth of Chubeza’s field.

Celery loves fertile earth and lots of water. As a plant which originated in the swamps, it likes humidity in the earth and also in storage, which is why it grows in wintertime in Israel. The Israeli summer is difficult and dry for the crisp celery plant. After three months in the nursery, it needs another three months to reach the prime age at which its leaves and stems can be harvested. The species which develops a thick root is even more patient, waiting another month under the warm cover of Mother Earth and refusing to be coaxed out of its warm bed to the cold, raging winter. A simple calculation leads to the conclusion that the lovely celeriac visiting your boxes this week was created seven months ago!

And though its time has come, the celeriac still holds on to the earth with all its might, and is not easily convinced to emerge. When we harvest the celeriac, we use a knife and gently release it by cutting the surrounding slender roots. Upon retrieving it from the earth, we attempt to shake it well and cut off the remaining clumps of earth still caught within.  After this initial cleansing, we lead it to our vegetable washing tubs where it soaks for a while. Even so, when it arrives, you may still see remains of dirt. Immerse in water for some 30 minutes to expedite the final cleaning.

So holding these two yummy roots in your palms, you must want to rush to the kitchen to prepare some soup. But wait! First have a look at our recipes for delectable uses of these roots in a host of ways. A must!

Lastly, in honor of our distinguished root vegetables, I remembered this charming picture sent two years ago by Daniel from Modi’in. The caption read: “Do Chubeza vegetables have a secret, enchanted life where they dance the night away?”

Wishing you a sunny winter week, awaiting return of the rain,

Alon, Bat Ami, Dror, Maya and the Chubeza team

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES? 

Monday: carrots/pimpkin, spinach/kale, tomatoes, potatoes, broccoli, celery/celeriac, cucumbers, kohlrabi/fennel/turnip, lettuce, small boxes only: parsley root

Large boxes, in addition: green garlic, Jerusalem artichoke/peas/fava beans, green or red cabbage, beets with greens

Wednesday: Potatoes, leek, spinach/kale, tomatoes, thyme, parsley root/celeriac, cucumbers, broccoli, lettuce, kohlrabi/fennel/turnip/peppers, small boxes only: pumpkin

Large boxes, in addition: Peas/Jerusalem artichoke, beets with greens/Swiss chard, green garlic, cabbage/cauliflower

And there’s more! You can add to your basket a wide, delectable range of additional products from fine small producers: flour, fruits, honey, dates, almonds, garbanzo beans, crackers, probiotic foods, dried fruits and leathers, olive oil, bakery products, pomegranate juice and goat dairy too! You can learn more about each producer on the Chubeza website. On our order system there’s a detailed listing of the products and their cost, you can make an order online now!