June 18th-20th 2018

Eliezer and Rose of Shorshei Zion have prepared beautiful packages for their excellent chocolate bars.

They have also reduced their sizes, and reduced the price accordingly. Shorshei Zion chocolate bars contain 75% organic raw cocoa melted at a low temperature, making it an ideal source of magnesium, and sweetened with unprocessed cane sugar. Healthy and delicious! Check out these chocolate delicacies on our order system, available in six distinctive flavors: natural, ginger and turmeric, coffee, Mexican chili, orange and raspberry.

It’s the Moment We Have All Been Waiting For:

Tomer and Hamutal’s famous apple cider vinegar is back in town!

After a long, patient (until we became impatient!) wait as it took its sweet time to ferment and sour, this absolutely amazing product has returned to us at last!

If you haven’t yet experienced this absolutely remarkable natural vinegar prepared by Tomer and Hamutal from surplus apples of the Tzuba orchards, join the crowd rushing to order it via the Chubeza order system! You’re in for a treat………….

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What a Melon!

Last Wednesday, as we were packing your boxes, rain started pouring in our field. The raindrops pelting on our tin roof made a tumultuous roar and for almost half an hour we felt that winter had returned. Of course, an hour later the skies cleared up, and two days later came the Return of the Heatwave, reminding us that this is indeed the middle of June. So confusing. And yet, most of the vegetables now growing in the field and adorning your boxes are fluent “summer” speakers: squash, fakus, various pumpkins, melons, eggplant, garlic, cherry tomatoes, first stalks of corn (!), and making their debut in this week’s boxes: watermelon and Thai yard-long beans.

Meanwhile, at Chubeza we remain vegetable-growing farmers, though for a minute or two we considered planting a small fruit orchard. We have since reconsidered, opting to remain close to the earth, and compensate you with fruit boxes from various organic orchards cultivated by other farmers throughout the country.

And yet, we are very pleased to claim the glory of a couple of fruits that have become regulars in our summer boxes, because they grow calmly across the open field, not on a tree or bush. They are, of course, the melon and watermelon. Of the two, the melon precedes his tough brother, so he rates the first Newsletter spotlight.

The melon is a member of the Cucurbitaceae family, a prominent summer clan whose relatives include the squash and pumpkin, cucumbers and fakus. As for the latter, although it pretends to be a cucumber, the fakus is really a melon harvested before it had time to ripen (and to all of you who still think we’re sending you two bags of squash, kindly take a second look at the recent Fakus Newsletter). Which is fortuitous indeed, for unlike his melons brothers, the fakus will not get sweeter as he ages. But the melons will! As they advance towards ripening, the sugar level in the fruit increases. At that point, they unfortunately become desirable not only to us, but also to the birds and mice, who are very good at detecting a ripe and juicy melon and fight to have their share.

We attempt to get the melons into the field as early as possible. Some are seeded; others are planted to gain more time and fewer weeds. We seeded and planted the first round of melons in March, right after their relatives the cucumbers, fakus, pumpkins and squash went into the earth. After them came more rounds, so we can extend the harvest for as long as possible.

At the beginning of the melon’s life, we cover its bed with a thin, white cloth called “agril,” allowing the plant to serenely grow, protecting it from viruses and other insect-borne diseases. Once the plant begins blossoming, we remove the white veil and allow the bashful bride to confront the outside world. Despite the many dangers, there is also the anticipated rendezvous with pollinating insects, without which we would have no pollination, fertilization or sweet fruit.

It takes the first melons slightly less than two months to begin winking at us from their beds in their roly-poly manner. Several weeks later, they begin changing their colors, softening a little inside, filling up with sweet juice and becoming easily detached from their plant. Melons begin ripening some 30 days after they blossom, when the sugar levels and pH are on the rise. The sugars that make up the mass of the fruit are fructose, glucose and sucrose, accompanied by 90% water. We strive to harvest melons at the prime of their ripeness, after their sugar level has reached its peak and they are sweet and juicy. Prematurely-picked melons will become juicier and softer in time, but they will not be as yummy and sweet. Melons have no reserve of carbohydrates. Actually, most of the carbs within them are sugars, not starch, which is why they have nothing to convert into sugar if they are harvested. What you pick is what there is.

And thus, over the years various methods to determine the ripeness of the fruit have been developed. Some ways are more scientific, such as the refractometer, a tool that measures the levels of sugar and NMRI (Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Imaging.) But we simple farmers just bend down and inhale (mmm… it smells like a ripe fruit), take a close look (and the color has changed from green to yellow), caress it (press on the base of the fruit, where the flower once grew) and give it a little tug (if it detaches easily, great; if not, it needs some more time on the vine). We then carefully roll the melon to the long piles at the side of the bed. Later we stroll through with our wheelbarrow to collect the melons to the end of the bed, where we will place them into low boxes (they do not like being stacked in piles) and bring them to the packing house to savor their intoxicating scents.

This year we grew two melons of the Ananas specie: one long, elliptical and juicy with a very prominent hometown heritage, developed from the local baladi melon that has grown in Israel for many, many years. The local farmers termed it Shamam (melon in Arabic), or sometimes Batichi Aspar (yellow watermelon, named after its cousin). The two types we grow are “Raymond” – with light creamy flesh, and the “Hudson” – bright orange on the inside. The former ripens early and therefore is suitable for the beginning of the season, while the latter ripens late and is thus appropriate for the middle and end of season. The first melons were already delivered to you several weeks ago. Of the later bloomers, some were seeded and planted as recently as May, and they are already beginning to ripen.

Melon history begins in Africa, where there are still many wild varieties. It is unknown when, where and how they were cultivated, but somehow the farmers of an ancient era selected and saved the seeds of the sweetest melons. Melons were abundant in Egypt over 4000 years ago, and after many epochs travelled on commercial routes to Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, India, South-Central Russia, China and Japan. Melons are depicted in ancient art, including a 2,400-year-old Egyptian burial drawing. In the Gilgamesh Epic written over 2000 years ago, Gilgamesh is mentioned eating aromatic melons. The fruit arrived to Europe sometime around the Greek and Roman period after the ruling Moors brought them from North Africa to Spain. Here in Israel, melon is mentioned in the Mishna under the name melafefon (cucumber)… Melons back then were very small compared to today’s varieties, probably about the size of an orange.

You can read about the history of melons in Israel, various species and surprising recipes in this nice article (Hebrew) written by chef and author Ofri Zuta. Different cultures feast on melons in different ways: in the Far East they are cooked and eaten like other cooked vegetables, but these are a different variety than the sweet melons we know. One of the Oriental types is the Chukiang melon, grown from Thailand to South China. This type of melon is pickled and preserved for months. In the Middle East, Central and South America and China, their dried seeds are eaten as a snack. In Mexico, a refreshing, melon cooler called agua fresca is a popular summer drink. In Japan, they make a different drink called midouri, a very sweet and heavy melon liqueur produced by soaking the melons in alcohol for a month (!). Even in our familiar way of eating the melon raw, there are many variations in seasoning: salt, pepper, powdered ginger or lemon juice.

Alchemists of the Middle Ages claimed that melon encourages blood circulation, and is useful for soothing heated tempers. It is said to ease the pain of kidney stones and clear the way for their discharge. In Chinese medicine, melon is considered a cold food which influences the heart and stomach, encouraging urination, easing constipation, helping fight liver diseases, soothes a cough, lowers body temperature and quenches thirst. It is highly recommended to eat melon separately, as its own little meal.

From a nutritional viewpoint, melon is rich in Vitamin C.  Half a melon contains 117 mg, almost twice the recommended daily consumption. It is also rich in Vitamin A and beta carotene, both of which are antioxidants that help protect the cells against harmful free radicals. In addition, half a melon contains 853 mg of potassium (almost double the amount of a banana), which is helpful in reducing blood pressure and easing muscle pain.

How to Store a Melon

  1. A ripe melon can keep for two weeks if refrigerated
  2. Melons are sensitiveto the ethylene gas emitted from ripe fruit, making it rot from a fellow melon’s gas or that of other fruit. If you have a bunch of melons you wish to eat over time, place them in an open area, storing only the softer ones. Do not place them alongside apples.

Wishing us all a sweet week full of good, thirst-quenching freshness and juice.

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

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WHAT’S JOINING THE MELONS IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Melon/watermelon, butternut squash/acorn squash/Amoro, lettuce, cucumbers + fakkus,  beets, tomatoes, potatoes, New Zealand spinach/Swiss chard, zucchini, parsley/coriander. Small boxes only: leeks/garlic.

Large box, in addition: Onions/eggplant, Napolitano pumpkin, cherry tomatoes/Thai yard-long beans, corn.

FRUIT BOXES: Bananas, nectarines, avocado, apples.

Wednesday: Melon/watermelon, butternut squash/Napolitano pumpkin, lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, potatoes, zucchini, parsley/coriander, leeks/garlic, cherry tomatoes/Thai yard-long beans, corn.

Large box, in addition: Onions/eggplant/fakkus, Amoro/acorn squash, New Zealand spinach/Swiss chard.

FRUIT BOXES: Bananas, grapes, mango, apples.

June 26th-28th 2017 – Summertime, and the livin’ ain’t so easy…

Last week, June 22, marked the formal start of summer. We were rewarded with a few days of not-so-hot weather, but this week summer has hurled its scorching heatwaves straight at us.

The livin’ ain’t that easy for the withering potato plants that stood green and erect only a few weeks ago, as summer signals us to pull up the last of them, already. It urges the corn stalks to valiantly stand upright, flying, fighting to fertilize and produce oh-so-sweet cobs. Old Sol is rapidly ripening the cucumbers and fakus, causing the tomatoes to blush furiously. Meanwhile, at the same pace the viruses are quickly spreading to our zucchini, warping the shape of the elder portion of the crop. (Not to worry: these are plant viruses, not human!)

The loquat tree near our packinghouse yielded fruit a while ago, leaving those fruits remaining on the tree to dry and become carved into the branches. The grapes covering the shed by the office are already clustered, heavy and bountiful, winking at us from above as we wait for them to become plump and soft.

The Chubeza team gets very hot by the middle of the day. Our water containers empty quickly, and we remind each other to drink. We all work with long-sleeved shirts to protect us from the relentless sun, and for some time now we have the blower in the packinghouse working heroically to suck out the hot air and slightly cool off the facility. It’s still not oppressively hot, we know, and we’re appreciative of the mild, temperate summer we’ve had till now. And yet, the body that still recalls the pleasure of the cool winter and spring must now get used to the burden of summer. This is why it’s harder for us now than during the peak of the season when were already accustomed to the heat.

This season is full of beginnings, reflected in the changing composition of your boxes. After remaining fairly constant from week to week with only minor changes, it’s time to greet the array of happy newcomers who arrived over the past few weeks. Let’s hear your applause for: The corn! The acorn squash and other squash varieties! The eggplant! The melon! And the watermelon and even the soy bean, signaling our summer makeover! In close proximity, our tomatoes are ripening nicely, along with the okra. Coming very soon: more pumpkins, peppers, yard-long beans, lubia and other happy summer vegetables.

The melons are ripening rapidly, juicy and sweet with a heavenly scent, and they have already graced your boxes. On harvest days our packinghouse is filled with the fragrance of melons. This year we are growing the elliptical pineapple melon, with light orange-tinted flesh.

 

The first watermelons have ripened as well. How do we know? We watch the blackbirds. These intelligent birds are the first to identify good, sweet watermelons. They never touch one that’s not ripe, but they adore plunging their beaks into the sweet ones. For this reason we’ve rushed to cover the watermelon bed with netting to keep out the birds and call off the big watermelon bash they were planning. Stay tuned, coming soon to your boxes! (the watermelons, not the birds…)

The eggplants, too, are ripening slowly, as is their wont. This year we planted our first eggplant bed at the end of March, when winter was still there in full blast. These brave summery fellas are placed in the earth and try to grow and flourish despite the low temperature. Since then, the weather has become warm and summery, and the eggplants have shown their appreciation by turning plump and soft. What a pleasure to harvest summer eggplants again, which absorbed the sunny warmth into their soft skin and show their thanks with their shiny black-purple mane and an absolutely delectable summer savor in your plates. Welcome Mr. Eggplant!

Our tomatoes have begun ripening quickly, and more and more tomato crates are piling up in our packing house. Our first cherry tomatoes were harvested today. They’re still rather large compared to other varieties, but they’re super sweet and taste great! Summer helps them ripen easily. We pick our summer tomatoes red and ripe so they reach maximum sweetness, which is why they are sometimes softer than the winter tomatoes you are used to. Don’t let that bother you – just dig in!

This year we planted six varieties of winter squash and pumpkins, now ripening according to their sizes, with the small acorn squash coming in first. Next in line are the bright orange Amoro pumpkins and the creamy butternut squash. Some of the Provence pumpkins have already turned color and are ready to be harvested, along with a new type we’re trying out this year – round, cute orange pumpkins with edible green seeds (but most of them still need some more time in their royal beds). You’ll get the full pumpkin/squash story in the very near future.

This week we harvest a brand new interesting squash – the squash mashed potato (how cute and tempting is that name?). It’s very white, inside and out, and has a very delicate not-too-sweet taste that combines smoothly with salty fare, and a very unique texture – one that is truly reminiscent of mashed potatoes! This is what it looks like:

Our big Tripolitania pumpkins still aren’t ready, so we’re giving them all the time they need (till midnight, of course, when they turn into royal coaches…).

This year we are adding the green soy, aka edamame, to the beginning-of-summer vegetable collection. Usually we grow it in the throes of summer for a very short period. This year, we are experimenting by seeding it early, at the beginning of May. The first seeds enjoyed the spring weather, not the usual summery heat it is used to, and over time it yielded pods that filled up with chubby peas. Last week we began harvesting bunches of those yummy green pods. We seeded more rounds, testing its ability to deal with various stages of the season. At the end of the season we will be able to report on our results. As a summer tenant, soy beans will be with us all the way to autumn.

And the happiest, most joyful beginning: a brand new beautiful Chubeza baby girl born to Yochai, our loyal Jerusalem delivery person, and his wife Oryn. Some of you will remember Yochai and Oryn from the first welcoming phone call you received as new Chubeza members. We are now overjoyed to greet tiny Yaela with a warm embrace. Much love to Yochai, Oryn, Lavie and Yaela!

These days of beginning are also days of endings – Last week the high school students completed their schoolyear and this week marks the end of the schoolyear for the elementary and kindergarten set. Wishing all the hardworking students a well-earned break and a happy, relaxing summer vacation full of fun.

Shavua Tov from all of us – Alon, Bat Ami, Dror, Yochai and the entire Chubeza team

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Parsley/coriander, acorn squash/yellow beans, lettuce, fakus/cucumbers, zucchini, tomatoes, edamame, eggplant, potatoes, melon/water melon, corn.

Large box, in addition: Parsley root, butternut squash/Amoro pumpkin, beets.

Wednesday: Parsley/coriander, acorn squash/white winter squash, lettuce, fakus/cucumbers, zucchini, tomatoes, eggplant/green beans, potatoes, melon/water melon, corn. Small box only: New Zealand spinach/Swiss chard.

Large box, in addition: Cherry tomatoes/edamame, parsley root, Amoro pumpkin, beets.

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!

Aley Chubeza #293, June 6th-8th 2016

Last week we billed your cards for purchases made over the month of May. Due to a minor glitch, the boxes you received on May 30th were not taken into account, thus they will be added to your June bills.

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!

A reminder:  We have a new billing system! Your invoice this week from “Green Invoice” comes in two parts: one for the vegetables, fruits and dates you purchased over the month (VAT-free products: “Organic Produce”), and the second for delivery fees and other products (which include VAT: “delivery fee and other products”). Please note: the invoice includes this month’s purchases even though the quantity indicated (1) may be confusing.

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Eliezer from Shorshei Zion has a tempting offer for us:

shorshei zion fermentation

A PROBIOTIC CULTURED VEGGIES WORKSHOP:

Learn the secrets of preparing tasty, vibrant food, full of probiotics! Probiotic food strengthens the immune and digestive systems and assists in cleansing the body of toxins.

First Session, June 15th: Pickled cabbage, kimchi, pickles

Second Session, June 22th: Kombocha, kefir, nut yogurts and cheeses

5:30-8:30 pm, at 3 Hatzeva St., Bet Shemesh

Cost: 250 NIS per session, 450 NIS for both

Price includes organic raw material. At the end of these workshops, you will have 2-3 jars of pickled vegetables.

Contact Shoresheitzion@gmail.com

More details on our FB page

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Our Melons, Ourselves

For some weeks now, you’ve been receiving sweet, aromatic, elliptic fruit in your boxes. So this week’s sweet summery newsletter is dedicated to the fruit that almost makes the summer heat worth it, or at the least provides a measure of comfort: the melon.

While we at Chubeza maintain the identity of veggie farmers working the land and growing vegetables, there was a moment or two when we considered planting a small fruit orchard. In the end, we decided to stick with those crops that grow close to the earth, and leave the fruit department to Helaf of Melo Hatene Orchards. And yet, we are very pleased to claim the glory of a couple of fruits that have become regulars in our summer boxes, because they grow calmly across the open field, not on a tree or bush. They are, of course, the melon and watermelon. Of the two, the melon precedes his tough brother, so he rates the first Newsletter spotlight.

 

The melon is a member of the Cucurbitaceae family, a prominent summer clan whose relatives include the squash and pumpkin, cucumbers and fakus (and to all of you who still think we’re sending you two bags of squash, kindly take a second look at the recent fakus Newsletter). Though it pretends to be a cucumber, the fakus is really a melon harvested before it had time to ripen. Which is fortuitous indeed, for unlike his melons brothers, the fakus will not get sweeter as he ages. But the melons will! As they advance towards ripening, the sugar level in the fruit increases. At that point, they unfortunately become desirable not only to us, but also to the birds and mice, who are very good at detecting a ripe and juicy melon and fight to have their share.

We attempt to get the melons into the field as early as possible. Some are seeded; others are planted to gain more time and fewer weeds. We seeded and planted the first round of melons in February and a second round at the beginning of March. Since it was still winter, we protected them with plastic sheets from above so they would be warm and cozy and able to grow and thrive in their little hothouse under the plastic. The first melons were harvested and sent to you a few weeks ago. After them came more rounds, so we’ll extend the harvest for as long as possible.

At the beginning of the melon’s life, we cover its bed with a thin, white cloth called “agril,” allowing the plant to serenely grow, protecting it from viruses and other insect-borne diseases. Once the plant begins blossoming, we remove the white veil and allow the bashful bride to confront the outside world. Despite the many dangers, there is also the anticipated rendezvous with pollinating insects, without which we would have no pollination, fertilization or sweet fruit.

It takes the first melons slightly less than two months to begin winking at us from their beds in their roly-poly way. Several weeks later, they begin changing their colors, softening a little inside, filling up with sweet juice and becoming easily detached from their plant. Melons begin ripening some 30 days after they blossom, when the sugar levels and pH are on the rise. The sugars that make up the mass of the fruit are fructose, glucose and sucrose, accompanied by 90% water. We strive to harvest them at the prime of their ripeness, after their sugar level has reached its peak and they are sweet and juicy. Prematurely-picked melons will become juicier and softer in time, but they will not be as yummy and sweet. Melons have no reserve of carbohydrates. Actually, most of the carbs within them are sugars, not starch, which is why they have nothing to convert into sugar if they are harvested. What you pick is what there is.

And thus, over the years various methods to determine the ripeness of the fruit have been developed. Some ways are more scientific, such as the refractometer, a tool that measures the levels of sugar and NMRI (Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Imaging.) But we plain farmers simply bend down and inhale (mmm… it smells like a ripe fruit), take a close look (and the color has changed from green to yellow), caress it (press on the base of the fruit, where the flower once grew) and give it a little tug (if it comes off easily, great; if not, it needs some more time on the vine). We then carefully roll the melon to the long piles at the side of the bed. Later we stroll through with our wheelbarrow to collect the melons to the end of the bed, where we will place them into low boxes (they do not like being stacked in piles) and bring them to the packing house to savor their intoxicating scents.

As mentioned, we aren’t the only ones who crave the sweetness of this juicy friend, and every year we conduct a stubborn battle with the crows, who just love pecking and nibbling off our sweet melons. Which is why we cover them as soon as they ripen with a black bird net that is supposed to prevent the gluttonous birds from arriving at the prize before we do. This year, we have an additional competitor, or rather, a lot of them, from six feet under. The field mice have discovered the treasure, nibbled little holes in some of our melons and gobbled away their sweet insides. This is a new problem for us, which we’d avoided till now. Perhaps in the past, the birds of prey scared them away, but something went awry this year. For some reason, the birds of prey are not eating enough mice to prevent them from reaching our melons.

Fortunately, many farmers, specifically those who tend to barley fields, encounter an ongoing mice problem, which is why an ecological solution was found: mustering the barn owl for reinforcement. The barn owl is a night prey that feeds on rodents. In one night, it can gobble up 10 rodents, and a pair of barn owls can eat between 2,000-6,000 rodents a year. They love having offspring. A barn owl couple raises up to 13 chicks, and together, the big happy hungry family can definitely clean our field of mice and rats. In order for them to come live with us, we need to offer a solution for their living conditions and build Mrs. Owl a nesting crate, and… well, that’s it. By building these nesting crates, we tempt the young couples to the field. They’ve got lots to eat here, and we hope that next year (maybe even this year) we will no longer encounter the rodent problem. Read more about the barn owl as a biological form of pest control and how they cooperate with farmers in Israel here.

For some years now we have been growing two types of melons, both local Israeli-developed, thus boasting Israeli names: the Ananas (pineapple) melon is the long elliptical one with the orange interior, and the Galia melon is the round one with the green interior. We plant two types of Ananas melons, similar to each other, named “Hudson” and “Yaniv.”

The Ananas Melon:

Galia Melon:

Melon history begins in Africa, where there are still many wild varieties. It is unknown when, where and how they were cultivated, but somehow the farmers of an ancient era selected and saved the seeds of the sweetest melons. They were abundant in Egypt over 4000 years ago, and after many epochs travelled on commercial routes to Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, India, South-Central Russia, China and Japan. Melons are depicted in ancient art, including a 2,400-year-old Egyptian burial drawing. In the Gilgamesh Epic written over 2000 years ago, Gilgamesh is mentioned eating aromatic melons. The fruit arrived to Europe sometime around the Greek and Roman period. The Moors brought them from North Africa to Spain during their reign there. Here in Israel, melon is mentioned in the Mishna under the name melafefon (cucumber)… Melons back then were very small compared to today’s varieties, probably about the size of an orange.

Different cultures feast on melons in different ways: in the Far East they are cooked and eaten like other cooked vegetables, but these are a different variety than the sweet melons we know. One of the Oriental types is the Chukiang melon, grown from Thailand to South China. This type of melon is pickled and preserved for months. In the Middle East, Central and South America and China, their dried seeds are eaten as a snack. In Mexico, a refreshing, melon cooler called agua fresca is a popular summer drink. In Japan, they make a different drink called midouri, a very sweet and heavy melon liqueur produced by soaking the melons in alcohol for a month (!). Even in our familiar way of eating the melon raw, there are many variations in seasoning: salt, pepper, powdered ginger or lemon juice.

Alchemists of the Middle Ages claimed that melon encourages blood circulation, and is suitable for soothing heated tempers. It is said to ease the pain of kidney stones and clear the way for their discharge. In Chinese medicine, melon is considered a cold food which influences the heart and stomach, encouraging urination, easing constipation, helping fight liver diseases, easing a cough, lowering body temperature and quenching thirst. It is highly recommended to eat melon separately, as its own little meal.

From a nutritional viewpoint, melon is rich in Vitamin C.  Half a melon contains 117 mg, almost twice the recommended daily consumption. It is also rich in Vitamin A and beta carotene, both of which are antioxidants that help protect the cells against harmful free radicals. In addition, half a melon contains 853 mg of potassium (almost double the amount of a banana), which is helpful in reducing blood pressure and easing muscle pain.

The month of Ramadan began this week. We wish Mohammed, Majdi and Ali a good month, an easy fast and tolerable summer days.

Wishing us all a sweet and bountiful week, thirst quenching, juicy and refreshing! Enjoy your  Shavuoth festival!

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

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S HOLIDAY BOXES?

Monday: Lettuce, parsley, tomatoes, cucumbers/fakus, carrots, beets, eggplant/squash, spinach, potatoes. Small box only: melon/acorn squash, garlic

Large box, in addition: Onions, butternut squash/Provence pumpkin, yellow or green beans, parsley root/ scallions/Swiss chard

Wednesday: parsley, New Zealand spinach, tomatoes, lettuce, onions, potatoes, carrots, beets, melon/acorn squash/green or yellow beans, small box only: garlic.

Large box, in addition: eggplants/zucchini, Swiss chard, slice of pumpkin/butternut sqhash, scallions.

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 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!

Aley Chubeza #251, July 6th-8th 2015

Last week we billed your cards for purchases made over the month of June. 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 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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Manu of Taoz, our bread baker par excellence, is expanding her wide assortment of organic rye bread loaves. You may now order wheat, rye or three types of flour with seeds loaves. From my experience, these new additions make Manu’s already-excellent product range even better. Go for it!

The prices of the loaves and Manu’s other pastries (of which there are many) are detailed in our order system, and you can add them to your order. If you haven’t yet taken a look at the order system, now is the time!

Bon Appetite!

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Our Melons, Ourselves

I decided to write a newsletter full of sweetness and summertime, and about the fruit so delicious that it makes enduring these hot summer days worthwhile.  This week, we turn our salute to the dear, dear melons.

While we at Chubeza maintain the identity of veggie farmers, working the land and growing vegetables, there was a moment or two when we considered planting a small fruit orchard. In the end, we decided to stick with those crops that grow close to the earth, and leave the fruit department to Helaf of Melo Hatene Orchards. And yet, we are very pleased to claim the glory of a couple of fruits that have become regulars in our summer boxes, because they grow calmly spread across the open field, not on a tree or bush. They are, of course, the melon and watermelon. Last week we shared the intriguing tale of the watermelon, and this week we’re pleased to introduce you to his smaller, softer brother.

Both melon and watermelon belong to the Cucurbitaceae family, a prominent summer clan whose relatives include the squash and pumpkin, cucumbers and fakus. The latter, though it pretends to be a cucumber, is really a melon harvested before it had time to ripen (and to all of you who still think we’re sending you two bags of squash, kindly take a second look at the recent fakus  Newsletter of several weeks ago). It’s good that we harvested the fakus at this time, for unlike his melons brothers, he will not get sweeter as he ages. But the melons will! As they advance towards ripening, the level of sugar in the fruit grows. At that point, they become desirable not only to us, but unfortunately also to the birds, who are very good at detecting a ripe and juicy melon and determined to nibble their portion as well.

We attempt to get the melons into the field as early as possible. Some are seeded; others are planted to gain more time and fewer weeds. We seed and plant the first round of melons in March, right after their relatives the cucumber, fakus, pumpkin and squash, and together with the winter squash. There will, of course, be more rounds, so that we can harvest this sweetness for a good while.

In the beginning of the melon’s life, we cover its bed with a thin, white cloth called “agril,” allowing the plant to serenely grow, protecting it from viruses and other insect-borne diseases. Once the plant begins blossoming, we remove the white veil and allow the bashful bride to confront the outside world. Despite the many dangers, there is also the anticipated rendezvous with pollinating insects, without which we would have no pollination, fertilization or sweet fruit.

It takes the first melons slightly less than two months to begin winking at us from their beds in their roly-poly way. Several weeks later, they begin changing their colors, softening a little inside, filling up with sweet juice and becoming easily detached from their plant. Melons begin ripening some 30 days after they blossom, when the sugar levels and pH are on the rise. The sugars that make up the mass of the fruit are fructose, glucose and sucrose, accompanied by 90% water. We strive to harvest them at the prime of their ripeness, after their sugar level has reached its peak and they are sweet and juicy. Prematurely-picked melons will become juicier and softer in time, but they will not be as yummy and sweet. Melons have no reserve of carbohydrates. Actually, most of the carbs within them are sugars, not starch, which is why they have nothing to convert into sugar if they are harvested. What you pick is what there is.

And thus, over the years various methods to determine the ripeness of the fruit have been developed. Some ways are more scientific, such as the refractometer, a tool that measures the levels of sugar and NMRI (Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Imaging.) But we plain farmers simply bend down and inhale (mmm… it smells like a ripe fruit), take a close look (and the color has changed from green to yellow), caress it (press on the base of the fruit, where the flower once grew) and give it a little tug (if it comes off easily, great. If not, it needs some more time). We then carefully roll the melon to the long piles at the side of the bed. Later we stroll through with our wheelbarrow to collect the melons to the end of the bed, where we will place them into low boxes (they do not like sitting in piles) and bring them to the packing house to savor their intoxicating scents.

For some years now we have been growing two types of melons, both local Israeli-developed: the Ananas (pineapple) melon is the long elliptical one with the orange interior, and the Galia melon is the round one with the green interior. Each has at least two varieties, one which ripens early and is suitable for the beginning of the season, and another that ripens later, for the end of the season. So now, of course, we are harvesting the more gregarious ones, the early bloomers. The later ones were seeded and planted even in May, which is why they may only ripen in July.

The Ananas Melon

Galia Melon

Melon history begins in Africa, where there are still many varieties of wild melons. It is unknown when, where and how they were cultivated, but somehow the farmers of an ancient era selected and saved the seeds of the sweetest melons. They were abundant in Egypt over 4000 years ago, and after many epochs travelled on commercial routes to Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, India, South-Central Russia, China and Japan. They are depicted in ancient art, including a 2,400-year-old Egyptian burial drawing. In the Gilgamesh Epic written over 2000 years ago, Gilgamesh is mentioned eating aromatic melons. The fruit arrived to Europe sometime around the Greek and Roman period. The Moors brought them from North Africa to Spain during their reign there. Here in Israel, melon is mentioned in the Mishna under the name melafefon (cucumber)… Melons back then were very small compared to today’s varieties, probably about the size of an orange.

Different cultures feast on melons in different ways: in the Far East they are cooked and eaten like other cooked vegetables, but these are a different variety than the sweet melons we know. One of the Oriental types is the Chukiang melon, grown from Thailand to South China. This type of melon is pickled and preserved for months. In the Middle East, Central and South America, and China, their dried seeds are eaten as a snack. In Mexico, a refreshing, melon cooler called agua fresca is a popular summer drink. In Japan, they make a different drink called midouri, a very sweet and heavy melon liquor, produced by soaking the melons in alcohol for a month (!). Even in our familiar way of eating the melon raw, there are many variations in seasoning: salt, pepper, ginger powder or lemon juice.

Alchemists of the Middle Ages claimed that melon encourages blood circulation, and is suitable for soothing heated tempers. It is said to ease the pain of kidney stones and clear the way for their discharge. In Chinese medicine, melon is considered a cold food which influences the heart and stomach, encouraging urination, easing constipation, helping fight liver diseases, easing a cough, lowering body temperature and quenching thirst. It is highly recommended to eat melon separately, as its own little meal.

From a nutritional viewpoint, melon is rich in Vitamin C.  Half a melon contains 117 mg, almost twice the recommended daily consumption. It is also rich in Vitamin A and beta carotene, both of which are antioxidants that help the cells protect themselves against harmful free radicals. In addition, half a melon contains 853 mg of potassium (almost double the amount of a banana), which is helpful in reducing blood pressure and easing muscle pain.

Storing a Melon:

Let it sit at room temperature for two to four days, till soft enough to eat.

Then chill before devouring.

A ripe melon will keep in your fridge for approximately two weeks.

Melons are sensitive to ethylene which is emitted from ripe fruit, and can go bad if exposed to nearby fruit. If you have melons you wish to store for a time, place them in an open space and only store the softer ones. Do not store them near apples!

Wishing us all a sweet, delicious, fresh and juicy week!

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

___________________________________

WHAT’S JOINING THE MELON IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES? 

Monday: Eggplant, scallions/onions/garlic chives, New Zealand spinach/Swiss chard, cherry tomatoes/beans/Thai beans, tomatoes, Japanese pumpkin/kabocha squash, corn, watermelon/melon, cucumbers/fakus, parsley/coriander. Special gift: nana (mint). Small boxes only: butternut squash /pumpkin.

Large box, in addition: Potatoes, parsley root, lettuce, zucchini

Wednesday: scallions/onions/garlic chives, New Zealand spinach/Swiss chard/lettuce, cherry tomatoes/zucchini, tomatoes, Japanese pumpkin/kabocha squash/acorn squash, okra/melon, cucumbers/fakus, parsley/coriander, butternut squash /pumpkin, parsley root. Special gift: nana (mint). Small boxes: eggplants/potatoes.

Large box, in addition: corn/watermelon, beans/Thai beans, potatoes and eggplants.

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 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!

Aley Chubeza #116, June 18th-20th 2012

Happy news to start with: Last week Talya, Chubeza’s website wizard, made her very own magic by giving birth to a beautiful baby girl, Avigayil. From all of us here, hugs and best wishes to Talya and Yael, to the whole family, and of course, to little Avigayil. May you grow and blossom in happiness, calm and delight.

_________________________________

This week my Shachar celebrates her fifth birthday. In honor of Shachar and newborn Avigayil, I decided to write a newsletter full of sweetness and summertime, and about the fruit so delicious that it’s worth enduring these hot summer days to receive.

The Melon—and Us

While we at Chubeza maintain the identity of veggies farmers, working the land and growing vegetables, there was a moment or two when we considered planting a small fruit orchard. We decided to stay with those crops that grow close to the earth, and leave the fruit department to Helaf, of Melo Hatene. And yet, we are very pleased we can enjoy the glory of a couple of fruits that have become regulars in our summer boxes, because they grow calmly spread across the open field, not on a tree or bush. They are, of course, the melon and watermelon. Since the melon precedes his tough brother, he gets to be the protagonist today.

Both melon and watermelon belong to the Cucurbitaceae family, a prominent summer clan whose relatives include the squash and pumpkin, cucumbers and fakus. The latter, though it pretends to be a cucumber, is really a melon harvested before it had time to ripen (and to all of you who still think we’re sending you two bags of squash, kindly take a look at the Newsletter from two weeks ago).It’s good that we harvested the fakus at this time, for unlike his melons brothers, he will not get sweeter as he ages. But the melons will! As they advance towards ripening, the level of sugar in the fruit grows. At that point, they become desirable not only to us, but unfortunately also to the birds, who are very good at detecting a ripe and juicy melon and determined to nibble their portion as well.

We attempt to put the melons into the field as early as possible. Some are seeded; others are planted to gain more time and fewer weeds. We seed and plant the first round of melons in March, right after their relatives, the cucumber, fakus, the pumpkins and squash, and together with the winter squash. There will, of course, be more rounds, so that we can harvest this sweetness for awhile.

In the beginning of the melon’s life, we cover its bed with a thin, white cloth called “agril,” allowing the plant to peacefully grow, protecting it from viruses and other insect-carried diseases. Once the plant begins blossoming, we remove the white veil and allow the bashful bride to confront the outside world. Despite the many dangers, there is also the anticipated rendezvous with pollinating insects, without which we would have not pollination, fertilization or sweet fruit.

It takes the first melons slightly less than two months to begin winking at us from their beds in their roly-poly way. Several weeks later, they begin changing their colors, softening a little inside, filling up with sweet juice and becoming easily detached from their plant. Melons begin ripening some 30 days after they blossom, when the sugar levels and pH are on the rise. The sugars that make up the mass of the fruit are fructose, glucose and sucrose, accompanied by 90% water. We strive to harvest them at the prime of their ripeness, after their sugar level has reached its peak and they are sweet and juicy. Prematurely-picked melons will become juicier and softer in time, but they will not be as yummy and sweet. Melons do not have a reserve of carbohydrates. Actually, most of the carbs within them are sugars, not starch, which is why they have nothing to convert into sugar if they are harvested. What you pick is what there is. And thus, over the years, various methods to determine the ripeness of the fruit have been developed. Some ways are more scientific, but we, the plain farmers, simply bend down and inhale (mmm… it smells like a ripe fruit), look at it (and the color has changed from green to yellow), caress it (press on the base of the fruit, where the flower once grew) and give it a little tug (if it comes off easily, great, if not, it needs some more time). We then carefully roll it to the long piles at the side of the bed. Later we stroll through with our wheelbarrow to collect the melons to the end of the bed, where we will place them into low boxes (they do not like sitting in piles) and take them to the packing house to savor their intoxicating scents.

For some years now we have been growing two types of melons, both local Israeli-developed: the Ananas (pineapple) melon is the long elliptical one, with the orange interior, and the Galia melon is the round one with the green interior. Each has at least two varieties, one which ripens early and is suitable for the beginning of the season, and another that ripens later, for the end of the season. So now, of course, we are harvesting the more gregarious ones, the early bloomers. The later ones were seeded and planted even in May, which is why they may only ripen in July.

The Ananas Melon

Galia Melon

The history of the melons begins in Africa, where there are still many types of wild melons. It is unknown when, where and how they were cultivated, but somehow the farmers of that era selected and saved the seeds of the sweetest melons. They were abundant in Egypt over 4000 years ago, and after many epochs travelled on commercial routes to Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, India, South-Central Russia, China and Japan. They are depicted in ancient art, including a 2,400-year-old Egyptian burial drawing. In The Gilgamesh Epic, written over 2000 years ago, Gilgamesh is mentioned eating aromatic melons. The fruit arrived to Europe sometime around the Greek and Roman period. The Moors brought them from North Africa to Spain during their reign there. Here in Israel, melon is mentioned in the Mishna under the name melafefon (cucumber)… Melons back then were very small, compared to today’s varieties.

Different cultures feast on melons in different ways: in the Far East they are cooked and eaten like other cooked vegetables, but they are a different variety than the sweet melons we know. One of the Oriental types is the Chukiang melon, grown from Thailand to South China. This type of melon is pickled and preserved for months. In the Middle East, Central and South America, and in China, their dried seeds are eaten as a snack. In Mexico, a refreshing, melon cooler called agua fresca is a popular summer drink. In Japan, they make a different drink called midouri, a very sweet and heavy melon liquor, produced by soaking the melons in alcohol for a month (!).Even in our familiar way of eating the melon raw, there are many variations in seasoning: salt, pepper, ginger powder or lemon juice.

Alchemists in the Middle Ages claimed that melon encourages blood circulation, and is suitable for slowing the heated tempers. It is said to ease the pain of kidney stones and clear the way for their discharge. In Chinese medicine, melon is considered a cold food which influences the heart and stomach, encouraging urination, easing constipation, helping fight liver diseases, easing a cough, lowering body temperature and quenching thirst. It is highly recommended to eat it separately, as its own little meal.

From a nutritional viewpoint, melon is rich in vitamin C–half a melon contains 117 mg, almost twice the recommended daily consumption. It is also rich in Vitamin A and beta carotene, both of which are antioxidants that help the cells protect themselves against harmful free radicals. In addition, half a melon contains 853 mg of potassium (almost double the amount of a banana), which is helpful in reducing blood pressure and easing muscle pain.

Storing a Melon:

Let it sit at room temperature for two to four days, till it is soft enough to eat.

Then, chill before gobbling it down.

A ripe melon will keep in your fridge for approximately two weeks.

Melons are sensitive to ethylene which is emitted from ripe fruit, and can go bad if exposed to nearby fruit. If you have melons you wish to store for a time, place them in an open space and only store the softer ones. Do not store them near apples!

Wishing us all a sweet week of goodness, freshness and juiciness,

Alon, Bat Ami and the Chubeza team

_____________________________

WHAT’S COMING WITH THE MELONS IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Cilantro or basil, lettuce, green beans, parsley or dill, zucchini, tomatoes, cucumbers or fakus, garlic, eggplant, red or white potatoes, melon

In the large box, in addition: onions, beets, corn

Wednesday: eggplant, lettuce, basil or nana, tomatoes, garlic, zucchini, cucumbers or fakus, red potaoes, parsley, corn, green onions

In the large box, in addition: green beans or onions, red beets, spaghetti squash or melon