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

_____________________________

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 #254, July 27th29th 2015

Manu, our baker par excellence, is taking a summer break. The last baking will take place next week, August 3-5. To stock up by increasing your order, use our online ordering system or inform us. Manu will resume baking August 31.

Happy vacations and a great summer to us all!

________________________________

The Pumpkin Parade Proceeds

 

Photo courtesy of my dear parents

A few weeks ago we began telling you about our squash/pumpkin dream team, the full, multi-varied range of distinctive squashes and pumpkins growing in Chubeza throughout the year. Green, orange, yellow and cream. Round, elongated, sharp, pear-shaped, flat, furrowed, striped, smooth, coarse.  A vast, glamourous fleet of potential coaches for (a Thumbelina-size) Cinderella. This week’s Newsletter continues to present you with the lineup of Chubeza’s pumpkin/squash team members. Let’s gallop away (and make sure to return before midnight).

In Chubeza’s early days, we used to seed our pumpkins at the end of winter towards springtime, and the hard squash in June (which I’d learned from my pumpkin-raising experience in California). This timing is right for the Americans who need their ripe pumpkins for October pumpkin fairs. But year after year, the Israeli reality would inspire a variety of viruses that attacked the gourds and celebrated wildly throughout the summer. As our crops dwindled and our dismay deepened, we grew fewer and fewer varieties of squash every year. From seven the first year, we grew four the second year, and fewer as time went on. Only after several of these failed attempts, we figured it out: our timing was altogether off. So instead of waiting and seeding the squash late, subjecting them to a life of suffering and battling viruses, we decided to seed them earlier like their sibling the great pumpkin. The decision turned out to be wise, and finally we are blessed with a fine yield.

This year we are growing eight different varieties of squash. This week I’ll be telling you a little about the beautiful range of squash in our field, and we’ll begin with the two Japanese sisters, orange and green, both hard and coarse on the outside and wonderfully delectable on the inside:

 “Kabocha” is Japanese for any type of squash. The origin of the name comes from the squash’s journey from Mesoamérica to Japan. After the Spanish and Portuguese arrived in America and discovered the new fruits and vegetables of the land, they began distributing them to the next stops on their sailing itinerary. The squash probably arrived in Japan in the mid-16th century via Portuguese sailors who brought it from Cambodia. It was named Cambodia abóbor, which was eventually shortened to become kabocha. And thus, every squash in Japan is a kabocha.

The round green type portrayed in the picture above (which belongs to the buttercup squash variety) was developed and originally marketed primarily to Japan, which is why these types of squash were termed kabocha. Its orange flesh color testifies to its wealth of beta carotene (vitamin A), and this vegetable supplies a generous quantity of iron, vitamin C and potassium. The kabocha is similar in taste to the small green acorn squash. It is sweeter and drier than a regular squash or butternut, and some describe it as a combination of squash and sweet potato, with a chestnut-hazelnut taste. Either way, it’s best to stop talking and start nibbling on it. Kabochas are hard to carve, which is why they should be softened first by steaming or baking slightly (first punch holes in the rind to allow the steam to escape). Then it can easily be cut and seeded for you to proceed to prepare it to your liking.

The other squash you’ve already met in your boxes is the orange squash, resembling a plump raindrop. This is the Japanese squash called “kury,” Japanese for chestnuts. In France it’s called potimarron, and the Brits call it onion squash.  It belongs to the buttercup group developed in North Dakota at the end of the 1920′s for the northern housewife to substitute for sweet potatoes (in pre-global village life). After a few years of cultivating this specie, Home Ec departments ran a battery of cooking tests, and a prominent panel of judges graded the texture, taste, color, sweetness, etc. Chemistry departments calculated its content of dry mass, compared to popular species. Our friend the buttercup won with flying colors. Its flesh is drier, sweeter and very rich, reminiscent of a cross between a pumpkin and sweet potato. It contains more protein than other winter squash and is rich in vitamins A and C. It can sit patiently in the pantry for two to three months.

Sometimes people ask me why we grow so many varieties of squash, instead of growing more cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers, the “normal” vegetables eaten by “normal” people. Our answer is that we try to grow several varieties of each vegetable. There are a number of reasons for this. One, it is important for us to see how different varieties respond to our very specific field, and which grow best in Chubeza’s micro-climate. New types are always appearing, which is why these experiments never cease. But more than the constant choice of the best variety for us, we also believe in maintaining the genetic wealth that has been gathered throughout the agricultural development of humanity. The genetic diversity of plants is a live entity that cannot be kept behind a show window or in a lab. After some time, seeds lose their vitality and become sterile and dry. To keep them vital and active, they must be grown in order to produce new, young seeds. This is why it is important for us to grow nine different varieties of squash and many other types of vegetables.

The coming weeks we will be inundated with small pumpkins, which you are already receiving in your boxes. If you feel there are too many pumpkins, just remember – you needn’t use them right away. These pumpkins keep perfectly on your kitchen counter, and make a fine display, at that. If you keep them dry and ventilated, they’ll last another month or even two! But if they begin to develop a thin net of webbing, wipe them with a dry towel since these webs can cause rotting.

So… what have we so far? The spaghetti squash, the acorn squash, the Japanese kuri squash and the kabocha. You’ve met the butternut in your boxes, of course, as well as a nice slice of the great big pumpkin – sliced off of the Provence pumpkin, otherwise known as the Cinderella pumpkin, brown and orange on the outside, or the Napoli pumpkin (with a green striped shell). All of the above have already been picked from their bushes and are patiently waiting in our storage house to arrive in your boxes at a later date.

But this parade is not over yet. The finale will be led by the large Tripolitanian pumpkin, still growing peacefully in the field, preparing for her grand entry. Till then, we wish you much enjoyment from the beauty and taste of our squash and pumpkin array. Here’s hoping they bring some fairytale magic into our reality!

Wishing us a blessed week,

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

 __________________________

WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Eggplant, red bell peppers,  lettuce, pumpkin/butternut squash, tomatoes, onions/ scallions, corn, flat beans/Thai lubia/okra, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, parsley/coriander. Special gift: mint (nana)/fresh basil

Large box, in addition: Leeks, kuri squash/melon, zucchini

Wednesday: Red bell peppers, cucumbers, lettuce/spinach, tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, Thai lubia/okra, parsley/coriander, eggplant, pumpkin/butternut squash, corn, onions/ scallions. Special gift: mint (nana)

Large box, in addition: Zucchini/melon/spaghetti squash, acorn squash/kabocha, leeks.

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 207 – July 14th-16th 2014

So many pumpkins. So little time…

Against the backdrop of this Israeli summer’s scorching heat, our warehouse is merrily filling up with an array of colors and shapes: it’s The Pumpkins. When we say pumpkins, we mean that slice of pumpkin you already got in your boxes, as well as the smaller hard squash which you receive whole. We’ve written about some of them: the elliptic spaghetti squash (orange, yellow or striped),  the small green acorn squash, the orange kury squash (which you’ve received or will soon be receiving) that resembles a flattened droplet, the wonderful green kabocha, the light-orange-inside-and-outside mini Pam squash, and of course, the yummy creamy butternut.

In the early days of Chubeza, we used to seed our pumpkins at the end of winter towards springtime, and the hard squash in June (which I’d learned from my pumpkin-raising experience in California). This timing is right for the Americans who need their ripe pumpkins for October pumpkin fairs. But year after year, the Israeli reality would inspire a variety of viruses that attacked the gourds and celebrated wildly throughout the summer. As our crops dwindled and our dismay deepened, we grew fewer and fewer varieties of squash every year. From seven the first year, we grew four the second year, and fewer as time went on. Only after several of these failed attempts, we figured it out: our timing was altogether off. So instead of waiting and seeding the squash late, subjecting them to a life of suffering and battling viruses, we decided to seed them earlier like their sibling the great pumpkin. The decision turned out to be wise, and finally we are blessed with a fine yield.

This year we are growing nine different varieties of squash, large and small. This week and next, I’ll be telling you a little about the beautiful range of squash in our field.

Let’s begin with the two Japanese sisters:

The kabocha is a green squash, hard on the outside and sweet and orange inside. “Kabocha” is Japanese for any type of squash. The origin of the name comes from the squash’s journey from Mesoamérica to Japan. After the Spanish and Portuguese arrived in America and discovered the new fruits and vegetables of the land, they began distributing them to the next stops on their sailing itinerary. The squash probably arrived in Japan in the mid-16th century via Portuguese sailors who brought it from Cambodia. It was named Cambodia abóbor, which was eventually shortened to become kabocha. And thus, every squash in Japan is a kabocha.

The round green type portrayed in the picture above (which belongs to the buttercup squash variety) was developed and originally marketed primarily to Japan, which is why these types of squash were termed kabocha. Its orange flesh color testifies to its wealth of beta carotene (vitamin A), and this vegetable supplies a generous quantity of iron, vitamin C and potassium. The kabocha is similar in taste to the small green acorn squash. It is sweeter and drier than a regular squash or butternut, and some describe it as a combination of squash and sweet potato, with a chestnut-hazelnut taste. Either way, it’s best to stop talking and start nibbling on it. Kabochas are hard to carve, which is why they should be softened first by steaming or baking slightly (first punch holes in the rind to allow the steam to escape). Then it can be easily cut and seeded for you to proceed and prepare it to your liking.

The other squash you’ve already met in your boxes is the orange squash, resembling a plump raindrop. This is the Japanese squash called “kury,” Japanese for chestnuts. In France it’s called potimarron, and the Brits call it onion squash.  It belongs to the buttercup group developed in North Dakota at the end of the 1920′s for the northern housewife to substitute for sweet potatoes (in pre-global village life). After a few years of cultivating this specie, Home Ec departments ran a battery of cooking tests, and a prominent panel of judges graded the texture, taste, color, sweetness, etc. Chemistry departments calculated its content of dry mass, compared to popular species. Our friend the buttercup won with flying colors. Its flesh is drier, sweeter and very rich, reminiscent of a cross between a pumpkin and sweet potato. It contains more protein than other winter squash and is rich in vitamins A and C. It can sit patiently in the pantry for two to three months.

Over the next few months we will begin to slowly “dispense” interesting and unique squashes and pumpkins. You need not use them up immediately. Place them on your kitchen counter for an ever-changing colorful parade of shapes and sizes. But once you cut a pumpkin, it must be stored in the fridge.

We will proceed with this colorful parade next week!

Hoping and praying that other parades, of destructive and painful nature, will cease, and that peace will reign. May we all have a week of quiet and tranquility, and may pain, destruction and fear be forever banned.

_____________________________________

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

WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Parsley, red potatoes, tomatoes, kury squash, onions, eggplant//fakus, cucumbers, leeks/scallions/chives, corn/ butternut squash, spinach/kale/lettuce. Small boxes only: cherry tomatoes

Large box, in addition: Thyme/sage, slice of Napoli pumpkin/melon, zucchini, Hilda pole beans/light bell peppers/okra.

Wednesday: parsley, red potatoes/slice of Napoli pumpkin, cucumbers, tomatoes, Kabocha squash/Acorn squash, onions, Hilda pole beans/light bell peppers/okra, eggplants, New Zealand spinach/kale, small boxes only: summer squash/zucchini, corn/melon,

Large box, in addition: green onions/chive, cherry tomatoes, dill/sage/thyme, corn and melon

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, crackers, probiotic foods, dried fruits and leathers, olive oil, bakery products, pomegranate juice and goat dairy too! You can learn more about each producer on the Chubeza website. On our order system there’s a detailed listing of the products and their cost, you can make an order online now!

__________________________

Japanese sisers recipes:

Sweet and spicy roasted kabocha squash

Kabocha Squash (Pumpkin) Cheesecake with Graham-Lime-Walnut Crust

Red Kuri Squash Gratin

Baked Kuri Squash and Apple Maple Pudding (vegan!)

Red Kuri Squash

Red kury squash gratin

Red kury squash risotto

Red kury squash pie

Thai green curry with red kury squash

And Melissa sent me a balsamic glazed acorn squash recipe, which “the former New Yorkers among us will enjoy, if only for the accent”…

Aley Chubeza 203, June 16th-18th 2014

From Little Acorns Grow…

Over the past weeks and earlier than usual, we have begun harvesting the first of our pumpkins. Here at Chubeza, when we say pumpkins we mean that slice of pumpkin you already got in your boxes, orange on the inside, light colored on the outside, as well as the smaller squashes – the Cinderella pumpkin (or Provence pumpkin) – orangish-brown on the outside;  the elliptic spaghetti squash (orange, yellow or striped); the small green acorn squash; the orange kury squash that resembles a flattened droplet; the wonderful green kabocha; the light-orange-inside-and-outside mini Pam squash, and of course, the yummy creamy butternut, which was our pioneer squash this year. Last week, we even began harvesting the delectable squashes.

Interestingly, the bigger and smaller pumpkins (also known as winter squash), as well as summer squash, among them the zucchini, belong to the same botanical category, and even the same species. The differentiation between squash and pumpkins is artificial, having to do with the stage they are picked and how they are used. All varieties are seeded (in an open field, in their natural season) from the end of winter/beginning of springtime, and they all grow from spring to summer.

However, we pick the “summer squash” early, before they ripen, when their shell is thin and their seeds are not developed, sometimes as early as 40 days from seeding. Since we pick the fruits off the plant before it had time to produce fertilized seeds, the plant makes additional attempts, yielding more and more seed-bearing fruit in order to fulfill its aim in plant-life (and animal-life): to spread its genes. Thus we are granted a long harvest season from a plant that just keeps on yielding. These squash do not keep for long, which is why in the past they were only eaten during their natural season, summertime, hence their name. Today, squash are also grown in wintertime in hothouses, so they aren’t really seasonal.

Pumpkins (large and small), however, are picked as they ripen and mature, when their shell is thick and hard and their seeds are quite large. Since we wait till the complete ripening, they are harvested three to five months from seeding day. Our Tripolitanian pumpkin is large, and often requires a wait of six months. In places where winter is long and hard and pumpkins are seeded in the middle of springtime, they only arrive at a full ripening at the end of summer. Their hard shell allows them to keep nicely, sometimes up to six months (depending on the variety), enabling them to be eaten in wintertime. This presents a particularly significant advantage in the pumpkin’s ancestral home of North America in those areas where it is too cold to grow food during the winter. Pumpkins were easily stored in warehouses, offering sweetness and a summery zest to the cold wintery days.

We will begin the pumpkin parade by introducing you to the wonderful acorn squash, which most of you have already met, and all of you will have the privilege of getting to know over the next few weeks.

 

The acorn squash originates in Mexico and the U.S. where the Native Americans cultivated earlier species. The dark green type which we grow, which Americans insist is heart shaped (I think pinecone- shaped would be a more accurate description) was introduced in 1913 by the Iowa Seed Company, where it arrived from Denmark or North Dakota (there is a controversy about this). It was received enthusiastically, thanks to its excellent taste and also because of its small size and thin shell, a source of relief for those battling the huge, hard pumpkins. In the U.S., and especially for those dining alone, it made a good serving-for-one as well as a great stuffed vegetable.

Over the past few years we have been growing small roundish acorn squashes, from the Israeli “Origin Seeds” company. Last year, they suffered a decline in their yield, and could not produce enough seeds to market this year, which is why we now grew a different variety that yielded much larger acorn squashes, more suited for a family and more “pointy.” The plants also yielded early, which is why this is our pioneer pumpkin this year. We know it is time for harvest when the green shell shows a yellow spot, usually elongated. This generally happens parallel to the collapse of the acorn bushes from viruses and exhaustion. However, this year, due to the early ripening, the yellow spot appeared and the bushes remained nice and green. To make sure the fruit was ripe, we took some home to examine, and one exciting attempt made it clear that the time had come: the fruit was sweet and yummy.

The acorn squash really does taste great. Its skin is less moist as the regular squash, and it has a sweet and nutty taste, which gave it the brilliant name “acorn squash.” Due to its sweetness, it goes very well with salty flavors – olive oil, salt, pepper and herbs, as well as sweet flavors – a gentle brush of honey or date honey. The cracks lining the fruit make it somewhat difficult to peel, but the good news is that you really do not have to! It tastes great in its shell. And if you still need to eat this squash shell-less, remove it only upon baking or cooking when it’s so much easier to do so.

The acorn contains more vitamin C and calcium than other squash, and less vitamin A. If you treat it kindly, it will keep for a few months, but its flavor will ebb. So let it decorate your countertops for a week or two, and then send it straight to the oven and onto your plates!

.

Make this week bring good news and comfort,

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

 

WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: New Zealand spinach, potatoes, lettuce, tomatoes, beets, acorn squash, sage/thyme, fakus/cucumbers, parsley/dill, eggplant/beans/artichoke, zucchini.

Large box, in addition: Parsley root, scallions/leeks/chives, watermelon

Wednesday:

New Zealand spinach, red potatoes, lettuce, tomatoes, acorn squash, sage/thyme, fakus/cucumbers, parsley/cilantro, zucchini, scallions/chives,small boxes only-eggplant

Large box, in addition: Parsley root,  watermelon, beans, beets/cherry tomatoes

_______________________

Recipes:

Southwestern stuffed acorn squash

Baked acorn squash

Roasted parmesan acorn squash

Greens stuffed acorn squash

Roasted Acorn Squash with Chile-Lime Vinaigrette

Acorn squash flowers and Acorn Squash Stuffed with Chestnuts and Mushrooms (scroll down)

Three delicious acorn squash recipes by Limor Laniado Tiroche:

Aley Chubeza #166, July 8th-10th 2013

The Pumpkin Parade Proceeds

 

This week’s Newsletter continues to present you with the lineup of Chubeza’s magical pumpkin/squash team members. As last week’s Newsletter described in its Introduction to our Pumpkins, we are discussing the small pumpkins, those coined “winter squashes.”

We’ll start with those whom you’ve met in your boxes lately:

The small acorn squash originates in Mexico and the U.S. where the Native Americans cultivated earlier species. The dark green type which we grow, which Americans insist is heart shaped (I think it’s more pinecone- shaped) was introduced in 1913 by the Iowa Seed Company, where it arrived from Denmark or North Dakota (there is a controversy about this). It was received enthusiastically, thanks to its excellent taste and also because of its small size and thin shell, a source of relief for those battling the huge, hard pumpkins. In the U.S., and especially for those dining alone, it made a good serving-for-one as well as a great stuffed vegetable.

The Israeli acorn squash varieties are smaller and rounder than their American cousins. The type we grew this year—which is excellent, sweet and orange on the inside—is from the Israeli “Origin Seeds” company. The acorn contains more vitamin C and calcium than other squash, and less vitamin A. If you treat it kindly, it will keep for a few months, but its flavor will ebb.

 Another member marching in our parade of champs is the Mini Pam, a perfect round, orange pumpkin, the kind a shorter Cinderella would have loved to catch a ride in. In the U.S., it is known as Baby Pam, and its smooth, fiber-free pulp and sweet taste make it a familiar, beloved choice for baking the traditional pumpkin pie. This specific variety, too, is developed-in-Israel (just like the orangetti and acorn squashes). The advantage of the Mini Pam is its small size, suitable for a family meal. Its perfect round shape also enables the Mini-Pam to transform into a receptacle for soup or for serving pumpkin risotto. These little pumpkins are distributed to you whole. If we happen to encounter one that’s too big for the box, we split it in half.

And last, but not least, the familiar butternut. Possibly it originates from Columbia, where there is a huge assortment of butternuts, but it is indeed fond of hot, humid tropical weather. More than her sisters, the butternut really can’t take cold weather, which is why it is the most popular of Israeli squash varieties. The first species of this type were chubby-looking (with seed-filled bellies) and had long, sometimes curved necks. Over the years, other variations were developed, some with chubby and shorter necks to provide a uniform vegetable demanded by the market. They can also be picked at an earlier stage, like zucchini, and they’re very tasty when young (some say even more than regular squash). They’re fun to grow in a home garden, where you can pick some to be used as summer squash and allow others to ripen till they become the genuine butternut. This year, we’re pleased to report that our butternut crop is especially bountiful, and we hope to enjoy the butternuts together with you for a long time.

The butternut’s smooth rind makes it easy to peel with just a regular vegetable peeler. It is sweet and its pulp becomes soft after cooking, although there are those who claim that baking makes it better. It is very rich in vitamin A, and under good conditions can be kept for six months (but how could you resist?).

Sometimes people ask me why we grow so many varieties of squash, instead of growing more cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers, the “normal” vegetables eaten by “normal” people. Our answer is that we try to grow a few varieties of each vegetable. There are a number of reasons for this. One, it is important for us to see how different varieties respond to our very specific field, and which grow best in Chubeza’s micro-climate. New types are always appearing, which is why these experiments never cease. But more than the constant choice of the best variety for us, we also believe in maintaining the genetic wealth that has been gathered throughout the agricultural development of humanity. The genetic diversity of plants is a live entity that cannot be kept behind a show window or in a lab. After some time, seeds lose their vitality and become sterile and dry. To keep them vital and active, they must be grown in order to produce new, young seeds. This is why it is important for us to grow nine different varieties of squash and many other types of vegetables.

The coming weeks we will be inundated with small pumpkins, which you are already receiving in your boxes. If you feel there are too many pumpkins, just remember- you needn’t use them right away. These pumpkins keep perfectly on your kitchen counter, and make a fine display at that. If you keep them dry and ventilated, they’ll last another month or even two! But if they begin to develop a thin net of webbing, wipe them with a dry towel since these webs can cause rotting.

So… what have we so far? The spaghetti squash, the Japanese kuri squash, the kabocha, the acorn squash, the Mini Pam, and of course, the butternut. All of the above have already been picked from their bushes and are patiently waiting in our storage house. But this parade is not over yet. The finale will be led by two pumpkins still growing peacefully in their patches: the Cinderella pumpkin (or Provence pumpkin) and the large Tripolitanian pumpkin, which we will tell you about later. Till then, we wish you much enjoyment from the beauty and taste of our squash and pumpkin array. Here’s hoping they bring some fairytale magic into our reality!

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This week marks the beginning of the Ramadan fast. According to the Koran, this is the month in which the holy verses of the Koran began descending upon Mohammed. We wish our own Mohammed and the rest of those fasting a meaningful month and easy fasting.

Wishing you a just-summery-enough week, full of happiness and summer vacation fun…

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

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Lettuce, parsley, kury/acorn squash, tomatoes, melon, eggplant, cherry tomatoes, fakus/cucumbers, watermelon, garlic chives/mint (nana), Small boxes only: zucchini/green or yellow beans/lubia (cowpea)

In the large box, in addition: Potatoes, corn, beets, spinach/Swiss chard

Wednesday: parsley, garlic chive, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, Swiss chard/New Zealand spinach, lettuce, corn, melon, watermelon, eggplants, tomatoes

In the large box, in addition: okra/yard long beans/butternut squash, zucchini/beets, red potatoes

And there’s more! You can add to your basket a wide, delectable range of additional products from fine small producers: flour, sprouts, goat dairies, fruits, honey, crackers, probiotic foods, dried fruits and leathers, olive oil and bakery products 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!