June 25th-27th 2018 – A mouthwatering wonder

This week we welcome back our old friends Didi and Shira Amosi of the Tene Yarok farm, who have returned with their excellent-quality organic olive oil. I asked them to kindly contribute a few words about themselves, and this is what they wrote:

In Tene Yarok (Hebrew for “Green Basket”), an organic farm located in the northern Jordan Valley, we grow a select variety of olives: picholine, picual, leccino, barnea, cortina, koroneiki and Syrian. Each species has its own flavor and distinctive character.

Those who remember us from previous years as Chubeza associates must be wondering where we disappeared to. Well, we didn’t actually disappear, or rather, we almost did…

Three years ago, during the sabbatical year of Shmita, we decided to adopt the beautiful Jewish notion of abandoning the field to allow the needy and all to enjoy the blessings and harvest the olive yield to their hearts’ desire. In addition, Shmita is meant to allow the earth and trees a period of rest from cultivation and treatment. So we chose not to earn a living from the olives during Shmita.

But the olive tree is an alternate bearing tree: one year it produces a larger yield, followed by a much smaller yield the next year. Since during Shmita the trees were bursting with olives, the consecutive year bore nearly none. Additionally, much of the fruit was unharvested during Shmita, and the remaining fruit left to shrivel on the trees harmed their productivity. Hence, we paid the price of Shmita for some three years, causing us to take a leave of absence from the olive oil business over that period.

To our great joy, this year we were blessed with an outstanding yield. The olives were harvested on time and the oil left the olive press fresh, clear and of excellent quality. We submitted our oil to a national competition and were thrilled to come in first, granting us the title of the best organic olive oil in Israel. Later, our oil attended an international competition in Italy, where it received the “Double Gold Medal” – the highest rank ever received by Israeli olive oil in this competition.

The oil is marketed at three levels (priced accordingly):

Blend – High-quality blend suitable for the average palate – 48 NIS for a 0.750 liter bottle/203 NIS for a 4 liter can

Variety – Picual/Leccino/Syrian – Choose your favorite flavor of olive oil – 54 NIS for 0.750 liter bottle

Gold – Oil produced from the Picholine species, awarded the best oil in Israel of this type. You’ll believe it when you taste it! – 60 NIS for 0.750 liter bottle.

Enjoy!

Didi and Shira Amosi, The Tene Yarok Farm

(Don’t wait! Go straight to the Chubeza Order System to purchase these amazing products, delivered in your box.)

_____________________________________

There was once a woman, let’s call her Helen
Who made her home in a watermelon
She brought in two stools, a chair and a broom, 
Carved out a window and a living room, 
Bought a cat to catch mice and named him Grover
Then all of a sudden… the season was over…

 

(Nurit Zarchi, Translated by A. Raz)

Illustration: Yossi Abulafia

 I have a sneaking suspicion that this woman actually resided in Chubeza’s watermelon field, though it’s hard to imagine her fitting all of her belongings into our small-sized models. Yet, the feeling of the watermelon season ending so abruptly is as too familiar to us. Watermelon season at Chubeza is really short – approximately a month – so before it ends, we want to share some fascinating facts about the wonderful watermelon. This week’s Newsletter is green and red all over…

Summer officially arrived last Thursday, and the hot, heavy days are becoming more and more prevalent. But while we moan and groan about the oppressive heat, the watermelon remains unfazed. It just loves the heat, a throwback to its origins in the southern part of the African continent, the Kalahari Desert. In the scorching desert, the watermelon, boasting a more-than-90% water content, was an important and vital source of liquid to humankind and wild animals. The difficulty in choosing a good watermelon is an old story. Even in its wild form, the sweet watermelon is identical on the outside to a bitter watermelon, which is why the thirsty passerby would punch a hole in the watermelon rind to test its taste.

From South Africa, the watermelon spread across the African continent, and was cultivated in Egypt over 4,000 years ago. Ancient Egyptians drew depictions of watermelons to decorate sarcophagi and cave walls, and they would leave a watermelon near the dead to nourish them on their journey to the New World. The Hebrews knew it from Egypt, reminiscing, “We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons…”

From North Africa, the watermelon entered the Middle East where it grew well and was even mentioned several times in the Mishna. It arrived in China in the 10th century, and today China is the champion watermelon grower, followed closely by Turkey and Iran. In the 13th century, the Moors brought it with them to Europe, along with other plants they met in Africa and Asia. The watermelon arrived in America with the black slaves and the European settlers.

Chubeza’s love affair with watermelons began with naiveté, pretentiousness, and… failure. During my last year in California, just before I established Chubeza, I raised red, orange and yellow watermelons (these are the colors inside) in a farm owned by Joe Perry, my mentor. We had nice success with the yields, and I was under the impression that growing watermelon would be simple, so I added watermelon to Chubeza’s nascent crop list. The first year, the watermelons simply did not grow, and we only picked a few dozen from our fancy beds. Fortunately, back in 2004, our entire clientele also numbered a few dozen, so they received the watermelons as planned (which, admittedly, weren’t too sweet). One of the main reasons for this failure was the timing. I seeded watermelons like we did in California, at the end of spring. Yet springtime in Israel is fraught with viruses and disease, particularly among the cucurbit family to which our watermelon friend belongs.

After taking a hiatus of several years, chalking up experience with cucurbits and their viruses, we made a second watermelon attempt eight years ago. This time we seeded earlier, resulting in a larger yield. A year later we did even better, and six years ago we dared to plant seedless watermelon varieties. This sort of watermelon-growing is more complex than raising a standard seed-filled watermelon, for we are essentially trying to buck nature. The mission of every fruit and vegetable is to reproduce and generate offspring (seeds). Wo/man, meanwhile, is bent on getting rid of the watermelon seeds, and not by spitting them out. Modern-day human beings had grown weary of seeded fruits and set out to develop seedless varieties. Actually, a seedless watermelon does contain some tiny seeds, however most are transparent as well as infertile. You must admit this is strange, to try to develop a fruit which cannot produce seeds or offspring. On one hand, a vast scientific effort is being placed upon refining and improving human fertilization via IVF, freezing embryos and sperm, surrogates, etc., while simultaneously we are encouraging sterility in fruits.

So how do these “seedless” watermelons work? Regular watermelon seeds are diploid seeds, i.e., containing two sets of X chromosomes. Those used in order to produce seedless watermelons are tetraploid, possessing four sets of X chromosomes. Seedless watermelon seeds have a harder than average shell, which is why it is more difficult to grow the melons from seeds. In most cases, they are planted as transplants that were started in the nursery under controlled conditions. The tetraploid seeds sprout and become plants that will generate leaves and flowers but no fruit, unless they’re fertilized from flowers of a regular seeded watermelon. Therefore, you must plant one row of regular watermelons for every three to four rows of seedless ones. During pollination, each seed contributes half of its chromosomes: 1+2, resulting in a fruit whose seeds are tetraploid, possessing three sets of chromosomes. This uneven number disrupts the seed’s ability to reproduce, and ultimately sterilizes it. Thus we receive a fruit which is juicy and sturdier than its seeded friends, but it evolved from the “virgin birth” of an unfertilized cell. It’s called a “Parthenocarpic fruit,” in essence, the mule of the botanical world…

Human beings are not alone in adoring the watermelon, which is also loved by animals and, of course, birds. More specifically, intrepid sweet-toothed hard-beaked blackbirds. We protect our fruits with a passion, otherwise, we find them looking like this:

Which is when we cover the bed with a bird’s net preventing the blackbirds from feasting on this red, juicy delight.

Watermelon is a healing fruit. Its high water content cleanses the body, making watermelon juice well-recommended for those suffering from bladder and liver deficiencies. It is also beneficial for cleansing the kidneys. Watermelon even helps to clean the body of cigarette smoke – highly recommended for active and passive smokers alike.

Traditional Yemenite folk cures use watermelon seeds to rid bad breath and stains from the teeth and mouth. Crush the seeds well, immerse them in water, and then strain for a super mouthwash. In Iraq, watermelon rind is used to treat fungal infections. Libyan Jews are known to rub their skin with watermelon rind to lighten age spots. Watermelon contains vitamin A in the form of carotenoid, vitamin C, and vitamins from the B group as well (B1 and B2). It is low in nitrogen and high in potassium.

Further information about the nutritional and therapeutic virtues of our round, red, delicious friend can be found here (Hebrew).

So… how does one select a ripe, sweet watermelon?

–       We pick the watermelon at its ripest, when the tendril near the stem dries up. Therefore, when choosing a watermelon at the stand, look for the drier stem, indicating that the watermelon wasn’t picked while green.

–       The part that comes in contact with the ground changes its color to yellow, so you should look for a yellow (not white) spot on one of the watermelon sides.

–       And the most mysterious signal of all: if you tap on the fruit, you will hear a dim sound reverberating back to you.

Check out this live demonstration

How to store a watermelon:

The best temperature to store a watermelon is 12°C, but even at room temperature (23°) the watermelon will keep for a week to 10 days. Don’t overdo it, though. A watermelon stored for too long will lose its taste and change its texture.

It is not recommended to freeze a watermelon or store it in the cooler compartments of your fridge. Overexposure to cold can cause frostbite, taking a toll on the watermelon’s flavor and making the inside soft and powdery. To store it after slicing open, wrap in plastic wrap and store at a temperature of 3-4°.

And once you have that excellent watermelon, slice it, add mint and feta cheese, and sit back and enjoy this spectacular summer treat, while reading a collection of surprising, interesting and humorous facts about watermelons (Hebrew)

Check out our recipe section for interesting things to do with watermelon, aside from slicing cubes and red smileys and devouring it on the spot. Enjoy!

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

__________________________________________________

WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Melon/watermelon, Napolitano pumpkin/butternut squash, New Zealand spinach/Swiss chard, cucumbers/fakkus, cherry tomatoes, tomatoes, potatoes, corn,  eggplant/zucchini, onions/leeks/garlic, parsley.

Large box, in addition: Thai yard-long beans, Amoro pumpkin/acorn squash, lettuce.

FRUIT BOXES: Watermelon, mango, banana, grapes.

Wednesday: Melon/watermelon, Amoro pumpkin/acorn squash, New Zealand spinach/Swiss chard.lettuce, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, tomatoes, potatoes, corn,  eggplant/zucchini, onions/leeks, parsley/cilantro.

Large box, in addition: Thai yard-long beans/green beans, Napolitano pumpkin/butternut squash, garlic.

FRUIT BOXES: Watermelon, apples, grapes. small boxes: banana. Large boxes: mango.

July 17th-19th 2017 – Sweet sweet summer

There was once a woman, let’s call her Helen
Who made her home in a watermelon
She brought in two stools, a chair and a broom, 
Carved out a window and a living room, 
Bought a cat to catch mice and named him Grover
Then all of a sudden… the season was over…

(Nurit Zarchi, Translated by A. Raz)

I have a sneaking suspicion that this woman living in the watermelon is actually residing in Chubeza, though it’s hard to imagine her fitting all of her belongings into our small fruits. Yet, the feeling of the watermelon season ending so abruptly is too familiar to me. It really is a short season – approximately a month – so before it ends, we wanted you to know a few facts about the wonderful watermelon. This week’s Newsletter is green and red all over…

While the rest of us are melting away in the oppressive heat, the watermelon remains unfazed. It just loves the heat, a throwback to its origins in South Africa and the Kalahari Desert. In the desert, the watermelon, which contains over 90% water, was an important and vital source of liquid to man and wild animals. The difficulty in choosing a good watermelon is an old story. In its wild form, the sweet watermelon is identical on the outside to a bitter watermelon, which is why the thirsty passerby would punch a hole in the watermelon rind to check its taste.

From South Africa, the watermelon spread across Africa, and was cultivated in Egypt over 4,000 years ago. Ancient Egyptians drew depictions of watermelons to decorate sarcophagi and cave walls, and they would leave a watermelon near the dead to nourish them on their journey to the New World. The Hebrews knew it from Egypt, reminiscing, “We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons…”

From North Africa, the watermelon entered the Middle East where it grew well and was even mentioned in the Mishna. It arrived in China in the 10th century, and today China is the champion watermelon grower, followed closely by Turkey and Iran. In the 13th century, the Moors brought it with them to Europe, along with other plants they met in Africa and Asia. The watermelon arrived in America with the black slaves and the European settlers.

Chubeza’s love affair with watermelons began with naiveté, pretentiousness, and… failure. During my last year in California, just before I established Chubeza, I raised red, orange and yellow watermelons (these are the colors inside) in a farm owned by Joe Perry, my mentor. We had nice success with the yields, and I was under the impression that growing watermelon would be simple, so I added watermelon to Chubeza’s nascent crop list. The first year, the watermelons simply did not grow, and we only picked a few dozen from our fancy beds. Fortunately, back in 2004, our entire clientele also numbered a few dozen, so they received the watermelons as planned (which, admittedly, weren’t too sweet). One of the main reasons for this failure was the timing. I seeded watermelons like we did in California, at the end of spring. Yet springtime in Israel is fraught with viruses and disease, particularly among the cucurbit family to which our watermelon friend belongs.

After taking a hiatus of several years, chalking up experience with cucurbits and their viruses, we made a second watermelon attempt seven years ago. This time we seeded earlier and harvested a larger yield. A year later we did even better, and five years ago we dared to plant seedless watermelon plants. This sort of watermelon-growing is more complex than raising a standard seed-filled watermelon, for we are essentially trying to buck nature. The mission of every fruit and vegetable is to reproduce and generate offspring (seeds). Man, meanwhile, is bent on getting rid of the seeds, and not by spitting them out, Human beings had grown weary of seeded fruits and set out to develop seedless varieties. Actually, a seedless watermelon does contain some tiny seeds, however most are transparent as well as infertile. You must admit this is strange, to try to develop a fruit which cannot produce seeds or offspring. On one hand, a vast scientific effort is being placed upon refining and improving human fertilization via IVF, freezing embryos and sperm, surrogates, etc., while simultaneously we are encouraging sterility in fruits.

So how do these “seedless” watermelons work? Regular watermelon seeds are diploid seeds, i.e., containing two sets of X chromosomes. Those used in order to produce seedless watermelons are tetraploid, possessing four sets of X chromosomes. Seedless watermelon seeds have a harder than average shell, which is why it is more difficult to grow the melons from seeds. In most cases, they are planted as transplants that were started in the nursery under controlled conditions. The tetraploid seeds sprout and become plants that will generate leaves and flowers but no fruit, unless they’re fertilized from flowers of a regular seeded watermelon. Therefore, you must plant one plant of regular watermelons for every three to four plants of seedless ones. During pollination, each seed contributes half of its chromosomes: 1+2, resulting in a fruit whose seeds are tetraploid, possessing three sets of chromosomes. This number disrupts the seed’s ability to reproduce, and ultimately sterilizes it. Thus we receive a fruit which is juicy and sturdier than its seeded friends, but it evolved from the “virgin birth” of an unfertilized cell. It’s called a “Parthenocarpic fruit,” in essence, the mule of the botanical world.…

Man is not alone in adoring the watermelon – they are also loved by animals and, of course, birds. More specifically, intrepid sweet-toothed hard-beaked blackbirds. We protect our fruits with a passion, otherwise, we find them looking like this:

Which is when we cover the bed with a bird’s net preventing the blackbirds from feasting on this red, juicy delight.

Watermelon is a healing fruit. Its high water content cleanses the body, making watermelon juice well-recommended for those suffering from bladder and liver deficiencies. It is also beneficial for cleansing the kidneys. Watermelon even helps to clean the body of cigarette smoke – highly recommended for active and passive smokers alike.

Traditional Yemenite folk cures use watermelon seeds to rid bad breath and stains from the teeth and mouth. Crush the seeds well, immerse them in water, and then strain for a super mouthwash. In Iraq, the watermelon rind is used to treat fungal infections. Lybian Jews are known to rub their skin with watermelon rind to lighten age spots. Watermelon contains vitamin A in the form of carotenoid, vitamin C, and vitamins from the B group as well (B1 and B2). It is low in nitrogen and high in potassium.

Further information about the nutritional and therapeutic virtues of our round, red, delicious friend can be found here (Hebrew).

So… how does one select a ripe, sweet watermelon?

–       We pick the watermelon at its ripest, when the tendril near the stem dries up. Therefore, when choosing a watermelon at the stand, look for the drier stem, indicating that the watermelon wasn’t picked while green.

–       The part that comes in contact with the ground changes its color to yellow, so you should look for a yellow (not white) spot on one of the watermelon sides.

–       And the most mysterious signal of all: if you tap on the fruit, you will hear a dim sound reverberating back to you.

Check out this live demonstration

How to store a watermelon:

The best temperature to store a watermelon is 12°C, but even at room temperature (23°) the watermelon will keep for a week to 10 days. Don’t overdo it, though. A watermelon stored for too long will lose its taste and change its texture.

It is not recommended to freeze a watermelon or store it in the cooler compartments of your fridge. Overexposure to cold can cause frostbite, taking a toll on the watermelon’s flavor and making the inside soft and powdery. To store it after slicing open, wrap in plastic wrap and store at a temperature of 3-4°.

And once you have that excellent watermelon, slice it, add mint and feta cheese, and sit back and enjoy this spectacular summer treat, while reading a collection of surprising, interesting and humorous facts about watermelons (Hebrew)

Check out our recipe section for interesting things to do with watermelon, aside from slicing cubes and semicircle smiles and devouring it on the spot. Enjoy!

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

WHAT’S JOINING THE WATERMELON IN THIS WEEK’S SUMMER BOXES?

Monday: Parsley/coriander, acorn squash, yard-long beans/okra/edamame, cucumbers, zucchini, tomatoes, corn, eggplant, potatoes, melon/water melon. Small boxes only: parsley root.

Large box, in addition: New Zealand spinach, lettuce, leeks/onions, cherry tomatoes.

Wednesday: Parsley/coriander, acorn squash, yard-long beans/okra/edamame, cucumbers, zucchini, tomatoes, eggplant, potatoes, melon/water melon/white squash, New Zealand spinach/lettuce. Small boxes: corn/cherry tomatoes

Large box, in addition: Parsley root/leek, garlic/onions, corn and cherry tomatoes.

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, 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 #294, June 20th-22th 2016

Treasure Box – a FreeCycle Market at the Bookstop

Jerusalemites, the Bookstop at Mekor Haim/Gonenim is hosting a monthly FreeCycle market, every third Tuesday of the month, between 7-9 pm. If you’re not yet acquainted with the Bookstop, it’s a great initiative of a library open to all. The city’s two Bookstops, both on the Messila Park, are located on Massaryk and in Mekor Haim. The Bookstops are open to donate books and/or to take home whatever book you please. At the monthly FreeCycle market, it’s time to trade and recycle not only books, but good quality household items, used clothing, and more. For further details call Juda at 052-5587769.

_____________________________________

watermelon houseThere was once a woman, let’s call her Helen
Who made her home in a watermelon
She brought in two stools, a chair and a broom, 
Carved out a window and a living room, 
Bought a cat to catch mice which she named Grover
But all of a sudden… the season was over…

(Nurit Zarchi. Translated by Aliza Raz)

I have a sneaking suspicion that this woman living in the watermelon is actually residing in Chubeza, though it’s hard to imagine her fitting all of her belongings into our small fruits. Yet, the feeling of the watermelon season ending so abruptly is too familiar to me. It really is a short season–approximately a month– so before it ends, we wanted you to know a few facts about the wonderful watermelon. This week’s Newsletter is green and red all over…

The watermelon requires a great deal of heat, a throwback to its origins in South Africa and the Kalahari Desert. In the desert, the watermelon, which contains over 90% water, was an important and vital source of liquid to man and wild animals. The difficulty in choosing a good watermelon is an old story. In its wild form, the sweet watermelon is identical on the outside to a bitter watermelon, which is why the thirsty passerby would punch a hole in the watermelon rind to check its taste.

From South Africa, the watermelon spread to all of Africa, and was cultivated in Egypt over 4,000 years ago. Ancient Egyptians drew depictions of watermelons to decorate sarcophagi and cave walls, and they would leave a watermelon near the dead to nourish them on their journey to the New World. The Hebrews knew it from Egypt, reminiscing, “We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons…”

From North Africa, the watermelon entered the Middle East where it grew well and was even mentioned in the Mishna. It arrived in China in the 10th century, and today China is the champion watermelon grower, followed closely by Turkey and Iran. In the 13th century, the Moors brought it with them to Europe, along with other plants they met in Africa and Asia. The watermelon arrived in America with the black slaves, as well as the settlers arriving from Europe.

Chubeza’s love affair with watermelons started with naiveté, pretentiousness, and… failure. During my last year in California, just before I established Chubeza, I raised red, orange and yellow watermelons (these are the colors inside) in a farm owned by Joe Perry, my mentor. We had nice success with the yields, and I was under the impression that growing watermelon would be simple, so I added watermelon to our crop list. The first year, the watermelons simply did not grow, and we only picked a few dozen from our fancy beds. Fortunately, back in 2004, our entire clientele also numbered a few dozen, so they received the watermelons as planned (which, admittedly, weren’t too sweet). One of the main reasons for this failure was the timing. I seeded watermelons like we did in California, at the end of spring. Yet springtime in Israel is fraught with viruses and disease, particularly among the cucurbit family to which our watermelon friend belongs.

After taking a hiatus of several years, gaining experience with cucurbits and their viruses, we made a second watermelon attempt six years ago. This time we seeded earlier and harvested a larger yield. A year later we did even better, and four years ago we dared to plant seedless watermelon plants. This sort of watermelon-growing is more complex than raising a standard seed-filled watermelon, for we are essentially trying to fight nature. The mission of every fruit and vegetable is to reproduce and generate offspring (seeds). Man, meanwhile, is bent on getting rid of the seeds, and not by spitting them out: human beings had grown weary of seeded fruits and set out to develop seedless varieties. Actually, a seedless watermelon does contain some tiny seeds, however most are transparent as well as infertile. You must admit this is strange, to try to develop a fruit which cannot produce seeds or offspring. On one hand, a vast scientific effort is being placed upon refining and improving human fertilization via IVF, freezing embryos and sperm, surrogates, etc., while simultaneously we are encouraging sterility for the fruits.

So how do these “seedless” watermelons work? Regular watermelon seeds are diploid seeds, i.e., containing two sets of X chromosomes. Those used in order to produce seedless watermelons are tetraploid, possessing four sets of X chromosomes. Seedless watermelon seeds have a harder than average shell, which is why it is more difficult to grow the melons from seeds. In most cases, they are planted as transplants that were started in the nursery under controlled conditions. The tetraploid seeds sprout and become plants that will generate leaves and flowers but no fruit, unless they’re fertilized from flowers of a regular seeded watermelon. Therefore, you must plant one plant of regular watermelons for every three to four plants of seedless ones. During pollination, each seed contributes half of its chromosomes: 1+2, resulting in a fruit whose seeds are tetraploid, possessing three sets of chromosomes. This number disrupts the seed’s ability to reproduce, and ultimately sterilizes it. Thus we receive a fruit which is juicy and sturdier than its seeded friends, but it evolved from the “virgin propagation” of an unfertilized cell. It’s called “a Parthenocarpic fruit,” in essence, the mule of the botanical world.…

Watermelons are also loved by animals and, of course, birds. Over the past several years that we’ve returned to growing watermelons, we’ve sacrificed a goodly amount to the sweet-tooth beaks of blackbirds and the teeth of marauding jackals. We protect our fruits with a vengeance, otherwise, we find them looking like this:

Which is when we cover the bed with a bird’s net preventing the blackbirds from feasting on this red, juicy delight.

As with the melons, 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 watermelons 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.

I wrote about this two weeks ago. Fortunately, there is an ecological solution to this problem: 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.

Watermelon is a healing fruit. Its large water content cleanses the body, making watermelon juice highly recommended for those suffering from bladder and liver deficiencies. It is also beneficial for cleansing the kidneys. Watermelon even helps to clean the body of cigarette smoke- -highly recommended for active and passive smokers.

Traditional Yemenite folk cures use watermelon seeds to rid bad breath and stains from the teeth and mouth. Crush the seeds well, immerse them in water, and then strain for a super mouthwash. In Iraq, the watermelon rind is used to treat fungal infections. Lybian Jews are known to rub their skin with watermelon rind to lighten age spots. Watermelon contains vitamin A in the form of Carotenoid, vitamin C, and vitamins from the B group as well (B1 and B2). It is low in nitrogen and high in potassium.

Further information about the nutritional and therapeutic virtues of our round, red, delicious friend can be found here (Hebrew).

Now, here’s how to select a ripe, sweet watermelon:

–       We pick the watermelon at its ripest, when the tendril near the stem dries up. But when choosing a watermelon at the stand, see if you can determine whether the stem is a little dry, indicating that the watermelon wasn’t picked while green.

–       The part that comes in contact with the ground changes its color to yellow, so you should look for a yellow spot on one of the watermelon sides.

–       And the most mysterious signal of all: if you tap on the fruit, you will hear a dim sound reverberating back to you.

How to store a watermelon:

The best temperature to store a watermelon is 12° C, but at room temperature (23°) the watermelon can be kept for a week to 10 days. A watermelon left out at room temperature for too long will lose its taste and change its texture.

It is not recommended to freeze a watermelon or store it in the cooler compartments of your fridge. Overexposure to cold can cause frostbite, taking a toll on the watermelon’s taste and making the inside soft and powdery. To store it after opening, wrap in plastic wrap and store at a temperature of 3-4°.

And once you have that excellent watermelon, slice it, add mint and feta cheese, and sit back and enjoy this spectacular summer treat, while reading a collection of surprising, interesting and humorous facts about watermelons (Hebrew)

Our best wishes to high school students who embarked on summer vacation this week. May we all enjoy a “watermelon” vacation: sweet, juicy, and a pleasure to share with friends!

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

WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

 

Monday: Lettuce, parsley, tomatoes, cucumbers/fakus, zucchini, Amoro squash, watermelon/acorn squash, New Zealand spinach/Swiss chard, potatoes, yellow/green beans. Small boxes only: garlic.

Large box, in addition: Scallions/onions, slice of pumpkin/corn, coriander/nana mint, eggplant.

Wednesday: Lettuce, parsley, tomatoes, cucumbers/fakus, zucchini, Amoro squash/slice of pumpkin, watermelon/melon, New Zealand spinach/Swiss chard, potatoes, corn. Small boxes only: garlic.

Large box, in addition: Scallions/onions, yellow/green beans, coriander/nana mint, eggplant.

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 #250, June 30th – July 1st 2015

With the summer fruit season at its bountiful peak, Helaf of Melo HaTene Orchards is offering a special “family size” summer box filled with 4-5 varieties of fresh, delectable organic fruit.  These expanded boxes contain fruit quantities suitable for five.

Helaf grows a wide variety of fruits, including some that are rarely found on the market. Today’s pick of the orchard includes raspberries, mulberries, apricots, apples, avocados, peaches, cherries, papaya, figs, pitanga, passion fruit, and more.

Note that Melo HaTene fruit boxes are available in three sizes: small, large, and family size (extra large). Order them now to be delivered along with your Chubeza vegetable boxes.

Last month, Rachel Talshir wrote in rave praise of Helaf’s special place at Moshav Karmei Yosef, neighbors of Chubeza – just over the hill. Here is a link (Hebrew)\

A sweet and healthy Bon Appetite!

______________________________

There was once a woman, let’s call her Helen
Who made her home in a watermelon
She brought in two stools, a chair and a broom, 
Carved out a window and a living room, 
Bought a cat to catch mice which she named Grover
But all of a sudden… the season was over…

(Nurit Zarchi. Translated by Aliza Raz)

I have a sneaking suspicion that this woman living in the watermelon is actually residing in Chubeza, though it’s hard to imagine her fitting all of her belongings into our small fruits. Yet, the feeling of the watermelon season ending so abruptly is too familiar to me. It really is a short season–approximately a month– so before it ends, we wanted you to know a few facts about the wonderful watermelon. This week’s Newsletter is green and red all over…

The watermelon requires a great deal of heat, a throwback to its origins in South Africa and the Kalahari Desert. In the desert, the watermelon, which contains over 90% water, was an important and vital source of liquid to man and wild animals. The difficulty of choosing a good watermelon is an old story. In its wild form, the sweet watermelon is identical on the outside to a bitter watermelon, which is why the thirsty passerby would punch a hole in the watermelon rind to check its taste.

From South Africa, the watermelon spread to all of Africa, and was cultivated in Egypt over 4,000 years ago. Ancient Egyptians drew depictions of watermelons to decorate sarcophagi and cave walls, and they would leave a watermelon near the dead to nourish them on their journey to the New World. The Hebrews knew it from Egypt, reminiscing, “We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons…”

From North Africa, the watermelon entered the Middle East where it grew well and was even mentioned in the Mishna. It arrived in China in the 10th century, and today China is the champion watermelon grower, followed closely by Turkey and Iran. In the 13th century, the Moors brought it with them to Europe, along with other plants they met in Africa and Asia. The watermelon arrived in America with the black slaves, as well as the settlers arriving from Europe.

Chubeza’s love affair with watermelons started with naiveté, pretentiousness, and… failure. During my last year in California, just before I established Chubeza, I raised red, orange and yellow watermelons (the inside colors) in the farm of Joe Perry, my mentor. We had nice success with the yields, and I was under the impression that growing watermelon would be simple, so I added watermelon to our crop list. The first year, the watermelons simply did not grow, and we only picked a few dozen from our fancy beds. Fortunately, back in 2004, our entire clientele also numbered a few dozen, so they received the watermelons as planned (which, admittedly, weren’t too sweet). One of the main reasons for this failure was the timing. I seeded watermelons like in California, at the end of spring. Yet springtime in Israel is fraught with viruses and disease, particularly among the cucurbit family to which our watermelon friend belongs.

After taking a hiatus of several years, gaining experience with cucurbits and their viruses, we made a second watermelon attempt five years ago. This time we seeded earlier and harvested a larger yield. A year later we did even better, and three years ago we dared to plant seedless watermelon plants. This sort of watermelon-growing is more complex than raising a standard seed-filled watermelon, for we are essentially trying to fight nature. The mission of every fruit and vegetable is to reproduce and generate offspring (seeds). Man, meanwhile, is bent on getting rid of the seeds, and not by spitting them out: human beings had grown weary of seeded fruits and set out to develop seedless varieties. Actually, a seedless watermelon does contain some tiny seeds, however most are transparent as well as infertile. You must admit this is strange, to try to develop a fruit which cannot produce seeds or offspring. On one hand, a vast scientific effort is being placed upon refining and improving human fertilization via IVF, freezing embryos and sperm, surrogates, etc., while simultaneously we are encouraging sterility for the fruits.

So how do these “seedless” watermelons work? Regular watermelon seeds are diploid seeds, i.e., containing two sets of X chromosomes. Those used in order to produce seedless watermelons are tetraploid, possessing four sets of X chromosomes. Seedless watermelon seeds have a harder than average shell, which is why it is more difficult to grow the melons from seeds. In most cases, they are planted as transplants that were started in the nursery under controlled conditions. The tetraploid seeds sprout and become plants that will generate leaves and flowers but no fruit, unless they’re fertilized from flowers of a regular seeded watermelon. Therefore, you must plant one plant of regular watermelons for every three-four plants of seedless ones. During pollination, each seed contributes half of its chromosomes: 1+2, resulting in a fruit whose seeds are tetraploid, possessing three sets of chromosomes. This number disrupts the seed’s ability to reproduce, and ultimately sterilizes it. Thus we receive a fruit which is juicy and sturdier than its seeded friends, but it evolved from the “virgin propagation” of an unfertilized cell. It’s called “a Parthenocarpic fruit,” in essence, the mule of the botanical world.

Watermelons are also loved by animals and, of course, birds. Over the past several years that we’ve returned to growing watermelons, we’ve sacrificed a goodly amount to the sweet-tooth beaks of blackbirds and the teeth of marauding jackals. We protect our fruits with a vengeance, otherwise, we find them looking like this:

Which is when we cover the bed with a bird’s net to allow us to enjoy the wonderful treat of this sweet, red, juicy delight.

Watermelon is a healing fruit. Its large water content cleanses the body, making watermelon juice highly recommended for those suffering from bladder and liver deficiencies. It is also beneficial for cleansing the kidneys. Watermelon even helps to clean the body of cigarette smoke- -highly recommended for active and passive smokers.

Traditional Yemenite folk cures use watermelon seeds to rid bad breath and stains from the teeth and mouth. Crush the seeds well, immerse them in water, and then strain for a super mouthwash. In Iraq, the watermelon rind is used to treat fungal infections. Lybian Jews are known to rub their skin with watermelon rind to lighten age spots. Watermelon contains vitamin A in the form of Carotenoid, vitamin C, and vitamins from the B group as well (B1 and B2). It is low in nitrogen and high in potassium.

Further information about the nutritional and therapeutic virtues of our round, red, delicious friend can be found here (Hebrew).

Now, here’s how to select a ripe, sweet watermelon:

–       We pick the watermelon at its ripest, when the tendril near the stem dries up. But when choosing a watermelon at the stand, see if you can determine whether the stem is a little dry, indicating that the watermelon wasn’t picked while green.

–       The part that comes in contact with the ground changes its color to yellow, so you should look for a yellow spot on one of the watermelon sides.

–       And the most mysterious signal of all: if you tap on the fruit, you will hear a dim sound reverberating back to you.

How to store a watermelon:

The best temperature to store a watermelon is 12° C, but at room temperature (23°) the watermelon can be kept for a week to 10 days. A watermelon left out at room temperature for too long will lose its taste and change its texture.

It is not recommended to freeze a watermelon or store it in the cooler compartments of your fridge. Overexposure to cold can cause frostbite, taking a toll on the watermelon’s taste and making the inside soft and powdery. To store it after opening, wrap in plastic wrap and store at a temperature of 3-4°.

And once you have that excellent watermelon, slice it, add mint and feta cheese, and sit back and enjoy this spectacular summer treat, while reading a collection of surprising, interesting and humorous facts about watermelons (Hebrew)

Enjoy the watermelons, our modest contribution towards the joys of a beautiful summer!

Our best vacation wishes to the high school students already on summer break, and to the younger students who bid farewell to school this week.

May we all enjoy a “watermelon” vacation: sweet, juicy, and the kind which is a pleasure to share with friends!

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

___________________________

WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES? 

Monday: Eggplant/zucchini, corn, New Zealand spinach/basil, lettuce, tomatoes, green/yellow beans, potatoes, watermelon, cucumbers/fakus, parsley/coriander/mint. Small boxes only: parsley root

Large box, in addition: Onions/scallions, pumpkin/ butternut squash, cherry tomatoes, melon

Wednesday: corn, watermelon, cucumbers/fakus, New Zealand spinach/Swiss chard, parsley/coriander, tomatoes, green/yellow beans, melon/acorn squash, slice of pumpkin/butternut squash, eggplant/zucchini. Small boxes only: parsley root

Large box, in addition: Onions/scallions, cherry tomatoes, lettuce, potatoes

Aley Chubeza #164, June 24th-26th 2013

This week you will find a brochure about Shorshei Tzion in your boxes. We began cooperating with Eliezer Tzion exactly two years ago. He is a charming person, quiet and pleasant. You would never imagine that he spends most of his time… fermenting. He does this in a small factory in Moshav Eshtaol, near Beit Shemesh, where he also creates a variety of probiotic (containing the friendly germs), raw and sprouted foods. This is how Eliezer and his wife Sararose first introduced themselves to Chubeza clientele:

We first got involved with Live Ferments with a fermented tea called Kombucha, and we were hooked from the beginning. The transformational process of fermentation was fascinating and inspired us to explore other ferments, such as pickled veggies, kefir, pro-biotic sodas and more. Driven by the belief in the importance of eating food that is alive, we began to create crackers and other raw food desserts made from live nuts, seeds, fruits and veggies. We make an effort to use ingredients that are as local, fresh, and organic as possible.  We feel proud to offer quality, healing, live foods.  We can heal ourselves by the food we eat.  Enjoy!

After much trial, error and learning, Eliezer now focuses on a wide range of products which he has been developing over time. However, he is always checking out new products, and varies the tastes with the seasons.

You may add Shorshei Tzion products to your weekly boxes via our order system.

_______________________________________________

There was once a woman, let’s call her Helen
Who made her home inside a watermelon
She brought in two stools, a chair and a broom,
Carved out a window and a living room,
Bought a cat to catch mice (she named him Grover)
But all of a sudden… the season was over…

(Nurit Zarchi. Translated by Aliza Raz)

I have a sneaking suspicion that this woman living in the watermelon is actually residing in Chubeza, though it’s hard to imagine her fitting all of her belongings into our small fruits. Yet, the feeling of the watermelon season ending so abruptly is too familiar to me. It really is a short season–approximately a month– so before it ends, we wanted you to know a few facts about the wonderful watermelon. Here goes: a newsletter that is green and red all over…

The watermelon requires much heat, a throwback to its origins in South Africa and the Kalahari Desert. In the desert, the watermelon, which contains over 90% water, was an important and vital source of liquid to man and wild animals. The difficulty of choosing a good watermelon is an old story. In its wild form, the sweet watermelon is identical on the outside to a bitter watermelon, which is why the thirsty passerby would punch a hole in the watermelon rind to check its taste.

From South Africa, the watermelon spread to all of Africa, and was cultivated in Egypt over 4,000 years ago. Ancient Egyptians drew depictions of watermelons to decorate sarcophagi and cave walls, and they would leave a watermelon near the dead to nourish them on their journey to the New World. The Hebrews knew it from Egypt, reminiscing, “We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons…”

From North Africa, the watermelon hit the Middle East where it grew well and was even mentioned in the Mishna. It arrived in China in the 10th century, and today China is the champion watermelon grower, followed closely by Turkey and Iran. In the 13th century, the Moors brought it with them to Europe, along with other plants they met in Africa and Asia. The watermelon arrived in America with the black slaves, as well as the settlers arriving from Europe.

Chubeza’s love affair with watermelons started with naiveté, pretentiousness, and… failure. During my last year in California, just before I established Chubeza, I raised red, orange and yellow watermelons (the inside colors) in the farm of Joe Perry, my mentor. We had nice success with the yields, and I was under the impression that growing watermelon would be simple, so I added watermelon to our crop list. The first year, the watermelons simply did not grow, and we only picked a few dozen from our fancy beds. Fortunately, back in 2004, our entire clientele also numbered a few dozen, so they received the watermelons as planned (which, admittedly, weren’t too sweet). One of the main reasons for this failure was the timing. I seeded watermelons like in California, at the end of spring. Yet springtime in Israel is fraught with viruses and disease, particularly among the cucurbit family to which our watermelon friend belongs.

After taking a hiatus of several years, gaining experience with cucurbits and their viruses, we made a second watermelon attempt four years ago. This time we seeded earlier and harvested a larger yield. A year later we did even better, and two years ago we dared to plant seedless watermelon plants. This sort of watermelon-growing is more complex than raising a standard seed-filled watermelon, for we are essentially trying to fight nature. The mission of every fruit and vegetable is to reproduce and generate offspring (seeds). Man, meanwhile, is bent on getting rid of the seeds, and not by spitting them out: human beings had grown weary of seeded fruits and set out to develop seedless varieties. Actually, a seedless watermelon does contain some tiny seeds, however most are transparent as well as infertile. You must admit this is strange, to try to develop a fruit which cannot produce seeds, offspring: on one hand, a vast scientific effort is being placed into refining and improving human fertilization via IVF, freezing embryos and sperm, surrogates, etc, and simultaneously, we are encouraging sterility for the fruits.

So how do these “seedless” watermelons work? Regular watermelon seeds are diploid seeds, i.e., containing two sets of X chromosomes. Those used in order to produce seedless watermelons are tetraploid, possessing four sets of X chromosomes. Seedless watermelon seeds have a harder than average shell, which is why it is more difficult to grow the melons from seeds. In most cases, they are planted as transplants that were started in the nursery under controlled conditions. The tetraploid seeds sprout and become plants that will generate leaves and flowers, but no fruit unless they’re fertilized from flowers of a regular seeded watermelon. Therefore, you must plant one plant of regular watermelons for every three-four plants of seedless ones. During pollination, each seed contributes half of its chromosomes: 1+2, resulting in a fruit whose seeds are tetraploid- possessing three sets of chromosomes. This number disrupts the seed’s ability to reproduce, and ultimately sterilizes it. Thus we receive a fruit which is juicy and sturdier than its seeded friends, but it evolved from the “virgin propagation” of an unfertilized cell. It’s called “a Parthenocarpic fruit,” in essence, the mule of the botanical world.   

Watermelons are also loved by animals and, of course, birds. Over the past several years that we’ve returned to growing watermelons, we’ve sacrificed a goodly amount to the sweet-tooth beaks of blackbirds and the teeth of marauding jackals. We protect our fruits with a vengeance, otherwise, we find them looking like this:

Which is when we cover the bed with a bird net to allow us to enjoy the wonderful treat of this sweet, red, juicy delight.

Watermelon is a healing fruit. Its large water content cleanses the body, making watermelon juice highly recommended for those suffering from bladder and liver deficiencies. It is also beneficial for cleansing the kidneys. Watermelon even helps to clean the body of cigarette smoke- -highly recommended for active and passive smokers. Traditional Yemenite folk cures use watermelon seeds to rid bad breath and stains from the teeth and mouth. Crush the seeds well, immerse them in water, and then strain for a super mouthwash. In Iraq, the watermelon rind is used to treat fungal infections. Lybian Jews are known to rub their skin with watermelon rind to lighten age spots. Watermelon contains vitamin A in the form of Carotenoid, vitamin C, and vitamins from the B group as well (B1 and B2). It is low in nitrogen and high in potassium.

Further information about the nutritional and therapeutic virtues of our round, red, delicious friend can be found here (Hebrew).

Now, here’s how to select a ripe, sweet watermelon:

–       We pick the watermelon at its ripest, when the tendril near the stem dries up. But when choosing a watermelon at the stand, see if you can determine whether the stem is a little dry, indicating that the watermelon wasn’t picked while green.

–       The part that comes in contact with the ground changes its color to yellow, so you should look for a yellow spot on one of the watermelon sides.

–       And the most mysterious signal of all: if you tap on the fruit, you will hear a dim sound reverberating back to you.

How to store a watermelon:

The best temperature to store a watermelon is 12° C, but at room temperature (23°) the watermelon can be kept for a week to 10 days. A watermelon left out at room temperature for too long will lose its taste and change its texture.

It is not recommended to freeze a watermelon or store it in the cooler compartments of your fridge. Overexposure to cold can cause frostbite, taking a toll on the watermelon’s taste and making the inside soft and powdery. To store it after opening, wrap in plastic wrap and store at a temperature of 3-4°.

And once you have that excellent watermelon, slice it, add mint and feta cheese, and sit back and enjoy this spectacular summer treat, while reading a collection of surprising, interesting and humorous facts about watermelons (Hebrew)

Enjoy the watermelons, our modest contribution towards the joys of a beautiful summer. Wishing a great vacation to the high school students, already out of school, and to the younger students, bidding farewell at the end of this week. May we enjoy a “watermelon” vacation: sweet, juicy, the kind which is a pleasure to share with friends…

Alon, Bat Ami, Ya’ara and the Chubeza team

___________________________

WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES? 

Monday: Lettuce, parsley, acorn squash, tomatoes, melon/watermelon, Swiss chard, beets, fakus/cucumbers, potatoes, green or yellow beans/cherry tomatoes.  Small boxes only: zucchini

In the large box, in addition: Kabocha squash, eggplant, corn, chives/dill

Wednesday: parsley, kabocha pumpkin (green rind), cucumbers / fakus, eggplants, beets, lettuce, watermelon, potatoes, Swiss chard, tomatoess, corn / cherry tomatoes

In the large box, in addition: dill/mint, zucchini, green/yellow beans

______________________________________

Somehow different watermelon recipes:

Watermelon popsicles

Watermelon pomegranate green tea

Aqua de sandia (watermelon beverage)

Agua fresca de melon

Sweet Pickled Watermelon Rind

Watermelon Rind Preserves

Watermelon rind candy