November 20th-22nd 2017 – Occupant of Interplanetary Most Extraordinary Craft

Next week, Ido, “Beit Halechem’s” baker-man will be attending a short course in an organic bakery in Budapest. This is very rare for Ido, who never ever delays baking, but this is a golden opportunity to learn and improve. Which is why next week there will be no bread-baking on Monday the 27th and Wednesday the 29th. Baking resumes at the beginning of December. Yes, we will miss him terribly, but we wish him a great journey. Can’t wait to enjoy his tasty new products!

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Derech HaShatil is a small nursery in Shoham that grows organic vegetable plants, working together with the Shekel Foundation, employing only people with special needs. In the hothouse, the nursery cultivates organic high-quality plants for vegetable gardens, fastidiously maintaining the plants’ quality and health.

As winter approaches, Derech HaShatil is offering a planting kit for your winter vegetable garden with an assortment of 45 organic plants: red cabbage, kohlrabi, New Zealand spinach, parsley, coriander, red lettuce, bok choi, arugula. Price: only 50 NIS!

What a great chance to help plants, food and people grow!

You can order this planting kit via an email message to Chubeza, or add it to your boxes beginning next week via our order system (under the category of “Chubeza Vegetables).”

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Hilaf of “Melo Hatene” has renewed our supply of his absolutely divine techina and coffee. He hand-grinds organic whole sesame using 300-year-old millstones which originated in Syria, reaching their long journey to Land of Israel via Turkey.  Use our Order System now to add these great products to your box: Whole organic or regular techina, and coffee ground for coffee machines/macchinetta or “black coffee.”

We’ve missed this!! A warm welcome back to Hilaf’s amazing products!

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Hands Up, Veggies Hands Up!

kohlrabi-faces

Often the kohlrabi is likened to an alien, perhaps due to its green color and outreached arms. Our friend is indeed rather strange looking, and that is because he is a very unconventional phenomenon in the vegetable world. We know vegetables that are the fruit of the plant (tomato, cucumber, squash, pepper, eggplant etc.,) or the leaves (Swiss chard, cabbage, kale, arugula, parsley, etc.) or the flowers (broccoli and cauliflower) and even the roots (beets, sweet potato, radishes or carrots). But this little guy is a stem, a rarity shared by only two other vegetables, from other families: the celery and the fennel. But they’re a whole different story.

Kohlrabi is the son of a prominent family, the Brassicaceae’s, which count among their members such well-loved vegetables as the cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale and Brussels sprout. Though these are the family members that hog the spotlight, the bashful kohlrabi is delicious, and it chalks up a champion score in the medicinal value department.

In the beginning of its growth, the kohlrabi looks a lot like cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli or kale plants. It sprouts green leaves on an upright stem. But upon maturity, the kohlrabi searches for an individual identity, and suddenly its stem thickens, curves up and becomes ball-shaped until a round kohlrabi sits on the earth (not under it!), light green (or purple, depending upon the type), sweet and juicy.

The origin of its name derives from German: kohl=cabbage, rabi=turnip. But it isn’t really a hybrid of the two. The name was given perhaps because the vegetable belongs to the cabbage lineage, but looks like a turnip or a similar bulb. But that too is misleading, because the kohlrabi is neither a root nor a bulb, but rather a thickened stem.

kohlrabi1

The geographic distances the kohlrabi has traveled over the years wouldn’t shame the most frequent flyer. Like the rest of its family, the kohlrabi’s ancestor is the wild cabbage, or curly cabbage, whose origins are quite ancient. In the first century, Roman agronomists and cooks wrote about it.  Roman Emperor Karl the Great demanded that kohlrabi be planted in his kingdom. From Europe it traveled to North India in the 17thcentury, where it became a main component of the Hindu diet. From there, our vegetable migrated to Northern Africa, the Middle East, China and Africa, and later to the United States–specifically, to the southern kitchen. To this day, kohlrabi is a main favorite in Indian, Asian, German and Hungarian cookbooks.

The kohlrabi is speedier than the rest of his family, because we don’t have to wait for the plant to flower in order to get to the edible part (like the cauliflower or broccoli) or for the leaves to close (like the cabbage.) As a matter of fact, the kohlrabi should be picked early, when it hasn’t yet matured. A big kohlrabi means it was picked too late, and its texture is liable to be fibrous. This is also the reason you occasionally receive tiny kohlrabies. Sometimes the winter halts their growth, but a longer wait would have harmed the juicy, crispy texture, which is why they are picked small. The good news is that small-sized kohlrabis do not have to be peeled, as their skin is very soft and delicate.

Kohlrabi can be eaten in any form. It is customary to eat it raw, but it’s delicious grilled or roasted in the oven or on an outdoor grill. It is super tasty when cooked or steamed, not only in soup, but stir-fried in butter or baked with salt, white pepper and sage. Kohlrabi can even be pickled. In Chinese-food recipes, it can substitute for radish or turnips and for water chestnuts. Its leaves are similar in taste to kale and can be used similarly and added to soup, pasta sauces and stir-fries. The stems are hard and unusable. Take a peek at our recipe section to get ideas of non-conventional ways to use kohlrabi.

Health-wise, the kohlrabi possesses all the medical merits of the Cruciferae family. It is an outstanding source of Vitamin C (one cup of sliced kohlrabi supplies the recommended daily portion), and like the cauliflower, is a great source of nutritional fiber. Kohlrabi also contains high levels of potassium, folic acid and calcium. In folk medicine it is considered to cleanse the blood and kidneys, as well as being beneficial for the lymphatic system and for digestion. Nissim Krispil writes of Moroccan Jews who make kohlrabi and honey juice to remedy hoarseness and congestion. In natural medicine kohlrabi is mixed with other vegetables to make a juice that treats asthma, improves lung function, sinus problems and the thyroid gland. Adding carrot juice will improve the taste of kohlrabi juice.

kohlrabisSo the kohlrabi is picked young, in some seasons less than two months after being planted. But it is in fact a bi-seasonal vegetable, meaning that in order to arrive at a complete growth cycle climaxed by seed production, it must undergo two growing seasons. In between is a rest period, or “incubation,” after which it will flower and produce seeds over the following springtime.

Being a winter vegetable, Kohlrabi favors a cool climate. We try to lengthen the season as much as possible and begin planting it at the end of August. But we’re always plagued by doubts whether it’s the right time, as the first round of kohlrabi in our fields finds itself trying to battle the end of summer heat. When the poor vegetable suffers heat stress, it is more vulnerable to insects and other problems. The white fly is a most annoying tiny aphid that is very fond of kohlrabi and loves climbing all over it.

The white fly has a special passion for the brassicas, literally strangling them with love. It situates itself on their leaves, accompanied by its very-extended-family, and totally blackens their faces. The pest is nurtured by the plant and weakens it, while secreting large quantities of honeydew, a sticky sugary substance that attracts the sooty mold fungi which covers the leaves in black and decreases their ability to undergo photosynthesis. When this hits the kohlrabi, the result is white tasteless fruit and a very small yield. (Thankfully, we haven’t encountered that yet this year…)

The good news is that as the temperatures plunge, the fly becomes lethargic, and thus the later-growing rounds are much less infested. Our little friend must be snuggling tight under its winter slumber covers. The current kohlrabi yield is quite fine, and the vegetables are green, juicy and delicious. This is the present harvest of our cool-rabi, so give it due respect and make room for it on your plates. That kohlrabi overcame a great deal to reach your homes and make your hearts and bellies sing.

We’d like to take this opportunity to send our warmest wishes to Mohammed on the engagement of his youngest daughter (warm wishes to the proud brothers Ali and Majdi as well), and to Melissa on the occasion of the Bar Mitzvah of Itamar, her youngest son.

May happiness and love shower our days, and may this week be a calm and wet one!

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

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Coriander/parsley, Swiss chard/New Zealand spinach, lettuce, cucumbers, kale/arugula, tomatoes/cherry tomatoes, carrots, baby radishes/daikon/radishes, kohlrabi/fennel, red or green bell peppers/ eggplant.  Small boxes only: Jerusalem artichoke/ yard-long beans.

Large box, in addition:  Sweet potatoes, cabbage/broccoli, beets, celery/ leeks.

Wednesday: Coriander/parsley, Swiss chard/kale, cucumbers, mizuna/tatsoi/arugula, tomatoes/cherry tomatoes, carrots, baby radishes/daikon/turnip, kohlrabi/fennel, red bell peppers/eggplant, cabbage/broccoli. Small boxes only: Jerusalem artichoke/ yard-long beans.

Large box, in addition:  Sweet potatoes, beets, celery, scallions/leeks.

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