Aley Chubeza #335, May 15th-17th 2017

Shavuoth is around the corner, and the Izza Pziza – Zaban Dairy invites you to a festive fair of cheese, wine, art and great music!

This will take place on Friday, May 26th, 2017 between 9am-4pm, in Moshav Tal Shachar.

Come one, come all!

See link for further details.

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It’s Mint to be Touched (and smelled and tasted)

 

This past few weeks you have been receiving “in-between-season” boxes, as the winter vegetables grow scarcer each day. This week we bade farewell to the fennel, kohlrabi and celery. The cabbage, too, has reached the end of its season. On the other hand, make way for the arrival on the scene of the spring-summer vegetables, albeit at a slower pace: the spring squashes, fakus and potatoes. Another harbinger of spring is the very fragrant mint. As spring approached, the mint beds burst into bloom and now need regular trimmings, which is why in the midst of a bountiful harvest and nice, full boxes, we’re adding a gift of mint as a fun bonus. At Chubeza, mint is an unmistakable sign of spring, living proof that the winter slumber is over and spring is here in all its glory!

Mint belongs to the Lamiaceae family, a prominent tribe containing such other important seasoning and medicinal herbs as hyssop, thyme, sage, Melissa, rosemary, white-leaved savor, basil and more. This family has an interesting characteristic: their square stem. If you haven’t yet noticed this phenomenon, it’s simply fascinating. Take a branch and look at it closely. The round part is not round, as you would expect, but rather has sharp edges that form a square.

Mint is perennial, growing repeatedly from year to year. Occasionally it may take a short leave of absence and shut down for the winter, but once spring arrives, that mint is totally out there. When you raise mint in a small-sized home garden, it is recommended to limit its growth to prevent it from taking over the rest of your plants. Mint is bounding with energy, strength and chutzpah.

At Chubeza, the mint bed belongs to the single perennial beds. In wintertime we mow it down and place a white Agril covering over it to allow the mint a good winter’s rest. In springtime, it bursts out in vivid fragrance and color that warms your heart, shouting out to the world, “Spring is here, and so am I!”

In Israel there are four types of mint: horse mint, squaw mint, water mint and fragrant mint. As a cultivated growth, many different varieties of mint have already been developed, with soft or hard texture, round or elongated leaves, plants that grow tall or those that spread out. In cooking, there are those who differentiate between nana and mint, but this is definitely an artificial distinction between the more mild-flavored varieties called nana and the piquant variety, rich in menthol, coined mint.

The fact that mint arrives with hot weather (sometimes in a major heatwave) is a blessing, as the menthol – which comes in assorted concentrations in the leaves of the various mint types – bestows the extraordinary characteristic of “cool spice.” We are used to treating spicy flavors as intensely hot, but the menthol molecule works on the endings that are sensitive to temperature, increasing their sensitivity to cold weather. This small molecule can penetrate the epithelium layer of the human pharynx and reach the nerves responsible for the sensations of warmth and cold. The slight cooling that occurs when inhaling after the menthol acts on the nerve endings will intensify to create a cool, refreshing sensation.

In the starring role of the myth about the creation of mint is a sharp-tongued girl named Minthe who lived in the underworld of the dead and demons. Minthe was the first girlfriend of Hades, the Greek Lord of the Underworld and Ruler of the Dead. She loved him a lot, but he preferred the prettier Persephone.

One day, Hades invited Persephone to his castle, kindling Minthe’s anger. “Who is this ugly witch?” she yelled at the king. “Am I no longer good enough for you?”

“And you,” snapped Minthe as she turned to Persephone, “You get the *** out of here or I shall personally rip you into small shreds!” Highly offended by Minthe’s nasty verbiage, the beautiful Persephone proceeded to slug Minthe and tore her to pieces. Hades regretted the misfortune he had caused Minthe, and turned her into a fragrant plant with a red-hot flavor that bears her name to this day.

Minthe’s power – formerly expressed in seething anger – is now channeled to healing, relaxation and health. Mint is known as a plant that can aid digestion (drink mint tea at the end of a meal), great for vanquishing heartburn and easing pain and spasms in the digestive system. Like the rest of its family members, mint is also an anti-bacterial plant and is thus an important component in the oral hygiene industry (toothpaste, mouthwash, etc.). It helps alleviate headaches, toothaches, earaches, stomach and joint pains by increasing blood flow to the afflicted area. (For that very reason, mint may stimulate contractions and therefore is not recommended in excessive amounts for pregnant women.)

This is a long list of medicinal uses of mint (Hebrew).

On the culinary end, we enjoy drinking mint in tea (or adding some tea to our mint, depending on just how much we adore it) but also adding it in cooking, baking, salads, desserts, etc. Mint will always enhance and enliven boring, all-too-familiar recipes, adding a touch of mischief and an unexpected twist. Check out our recipe section and recipes on the net for a wealth of ideas.

We are sending you great big bundles of mint, which don’t keep for too long. Just in case you don’t get a chance to use it all at once, here is how to dry the leaves so they don’t rot and blacken. Enjoy!

Wishing you days full of daring, freshness and renewal!

Shavua Tov,

Alon, Bat Ami, Dror, Yochai and the entire Chubeza team

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S FRAGRANT BOXES?

Monday: Mint, New Zealand spinach/Swiss chard, lettuce, cucumbers/fakus, zucchini, tomatoes, green garlic, onions, potatoes, carrots, beets.

Large box, in addition: Cabbage, parsley/dill, leeks.

Wednesday: Mint, lettuce, zucchini, tomatoes, onions, potatoes, carrots, beets, leeks. Small boxes only: New Zealand spinach/Swiss chard, cucumbers/fakus

Large box, in addition: Cabbage, parsley/dill, green garlic, cucumbers and fakus

And there’s more! You can add to your basket a wide, delectable range of additional products from fine small producers: flour, fruits, sprouts, honey, dates, almonds, garbanzo beans, crackers, probiotic foods, dried fruits and leathers, olive oil, bakery products, apple juice, cider and jams, dates silan and healthy snacks 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!