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Author: bloomingglenfarm

Roasted and fresh fennelFennel is a spice commonly used in Mediterranean cuisine. Both the bulb and fronds of the versatile fennel can be used, and it’s enjoyed both raw and cooked. Fennel is a very good source of fiber, vitamin C, folate, potassium and manganese, but its real star power comes from its unique combination of phytonutrients. Like radicchio, kale, and Swiss chard, the phytonutrients in fennel gives it “strong antioxidant activity.”

We’ve posted a few recipes here on the blog that feature fennel. It’s used raw in a crunchy and bright Escarole Salad with Fennel and Orange recipe, and it’s used cooked in a sweet Caramelized Fennel and Onions recipe. The couscous salad recipe below feature roasted fennel and capitalizes on its Mediterranean roots, while also including several other items from this week’s share (Swiss chard, Walla Wall onion, cucumber, and basil; sweet peppers will be in the share soon). It makes for a great addition to any potluck, picnic, or brunch table!

References and recommended links:

Couscous fennel salad ingredients

Roasted Fennel Couscous Salad

Ingredients
Dressing:
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup fresh orange juice
zest from 1 lemon
1 tbs fresh ginger, minced
1 tbs agave
1/4 cup olive oil

Salad:
2 cups whole wheat couscous
3 cups water
1/4 tsp tumeric
2 fennel bulbs, chopped
1/3 cup fennel fronds, chopped
2 red, yellow and/or orange sweet peppers, diced
1/2 cup Swiss chard, stems removed, leaves sliced very thinly, chiffonade-style
1/2 cup Walla Walla sweet onion, chopped
1/2 cup cucumber, diced
1/2 cup dried Turkish figs, sliced
1/2 cup dried Turkish apricots, sliced
1/2 cup raisins
1 cup pistachio kernels, chopped
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
zest from 1 orange

Method
In a saucepan boil water. Add turmeric and couscous. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook until the water has been absorbed, about 10 – 15 minutes. Remove from heat, let sit covered for 10 minutes, and then fluff with a fork to break up any clumps of couscous.

Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Spread fennel onto a baking sheet, lightly spray with grapeseed oil, and sprinkled with salt and pepper. Roast in oven until edges begin to brown and bulbs begin to soften, about 15 minutes.*

Soak the raisins in warm water until they’re plumped up, about 15 minutes.

Combine all dressing ingredients and whisk together. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Combine the couscous and fennel with the remaining salad ingredients and stir to combine. Toss the dressing with the salad until until all the dressing is absorbed.

* Note: Make an extra batch of roasted fennel while you have the oven on!  Roasted fennel is a yummy addition to just about any green salad or grain dish.  It also sits atop a pizza or in a quiche very well.  Most simply, it’s tasty as is.

Post and photos by Mikaela D. Martin: Blooming Glen CSA member since 2005, board-certified health counselor, and co-founder and -owner of Guidance for Growing, an integrative wellness practice in Souderton. Read more about healthy eating and living on her site, http://guidanceforgrowing.com!

It’s heating up at the farm, and we are working around the clock to keep the farm irrigated. Anyone with a garden, or a lawn, can see that we are in need of some nice steady rainfall. As we irrigate, mostly through drip tape, you can almost watch the plants instantly respond and spring up a few inches. Our intern and irrigation manager, Mike, can be seen buzzing around the farm in the little orange Kubota car (nicknamed “The Shark”), turning water on and off, and fertigating through the drip tape with sea minerals, sea weed and fish emulsion. He and Tom develop a complex set of weekly and daily “directives”, with the field map color coded and highlighted. To keep everything watered, and to take advantage of the cool nights, fields turned on at sunset need to be switched over around 3am, then the next set of fields turned over in the morning, and so on throughout the day. Managing the watering needs of 30+ acres in a dry spell is no small task but Mike, and Tom, are doing an amazing job! Let’s hope for some rain (no thunderstorms please!), to give them a reprieve.

Baby cantaloupes, and irrigation manager/intern Mike Lasecki.

Our crew spent yesterday planting fall brassicas: brussel sprouts, cabbage, and broccoli. Next week, cauliflower. As we are on the cusp of harvesting our summer crops (tomatoes!!), we are also looking ahead 8 weeks to the fall crops. These fall crops are planted on white plastic mulch to help them deal with the strong summer heat, so they will flourish when they hit the cooler fall months.

Weeding basil and planting fall cabbage.

Have a wonderful fourth of July, and enjoy this week’s share. I made a garlicky pesto over the weekend and tossed it with lightly cooked yellow beans- delicious, and perfect for a barbecue!

CSA share, week 8, 7/3/12

Photos and text by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner.

We are into week seven of CSA pick-ups and by now you’ve probably realized cooking greens (namely, kale and swiss chard) are a part of nearly every share. If you are a new member, you might be wondering what the heck to do with it all. Hopefully you’ve come up with a few favorite ways to prepare them by now. If not, here are a few tips and ideas even the most seasoned veterans might be able to use:

  • The stems of both kale and chard are perfectly edible. They require more cooking time than the leafy parts, but when included in cooked greens, they provide a nice crunch to contrast the wilted leaves. To include them, just strip the leaves from the stems, chop the stems, and add them to the pan 3-5 minutes before the chopped greens (see recipe below).
  • Chard is a great substitute for spinach. In its raw state, I find the flavor to be a bit stronger, but when cooked, if behaves very similarly. Like spinach, it is high in iron and other valuable vitamins and minerals. When replacing spinach with chard in a recipe, use only the leaves (no stems) for a similar texture.
  • Kale is a super food. It has more nutrients per calorie than any other commercially grown vegetable. It has more protein than beef, more calcium than milk, and a good dose of immune boosting vitamins like A and C. And even though it is a “cooking green” it is delightful raw if you know how to prepare it—I love it as a salad and a nutritious addition to my morning smoothie (recipes below).

Sautéed Chard or Kale with Garlic

Remove stems from leaves of ¾ pound swiss chard or kale by holding on to the stem and stripping the leaf off with your hand from bottom to top (or cutting down the side of each stem). Chop stems like you would celery. Roll leaves up into a loose tube and cut into thick strips. Set aside.

Heat a large skillet with enough oil (I like organic sunflower seed and coconut oil for their stability at high heat) to coat the bottom of the pan. Add 4 cloves of thinly sliced garlic and the kale or chard stems and cook on medium heat until garlic begins to brown and stems soften a bit. Add leaves of kale or chard in batches, adding as many greens to the skillet as will fit, stirring as it wilts. When all the leaves are just wilted, sprinkle in a bit of balsamic or red wine vinegar and salt to taste. Remove from heat. Serve as a side dish or topping for whole grain pasta, rice, or quinoa.

Variation (particularly good with kale): Add 1 tablespoon minced ginger along with the garlic. Replace vinegar with a sprinkle of soy sauce.

Super Food Smoothie

In a blender, combine 1 cup frozen berries (the frozen part is key for a milk-shake like consistency since I don’t add any extra ice), ½ cup plain yogurt, ½ -1 cup orange juice, 1 ripe banana, 2 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut, and 3-4 leaves of kale, stems removed. Puree until liquefied, adding more juice if needed.

The Raw Kale Salad

This is the salad I make for kale newbies. It will make a kale convert out of anyone. It is simple, delicious, and infinitely adaptable. The key to eating raw kale is to dress it at least 15 minutes (and up to a few hours) before you actually want to eat it. I like using Tuscan kale for this one, but any kale variety will work.

Remove stems from ¾ pound Tuscan kale. Stack leaves on top of one another and cut into thin strips (julienne, if you will).

In a small bowl, whisk together 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 3 tablespoons raw apple cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (you can use tamari or soy sauce as a substitute, but I highly recommend investing in a bottle of this stuff), and ¼ cup nutritional yeast (also known as brewer’s yeast, available in a health food store near you).

In a large bowl, toss kale with dressing, “massaging” the leaves, encouraging some of the toughness to break down. Add whatever toppings your heart desires. My favorites include: chopped apples or pears, raisins or dried cranberries, goat cheese, and walnuts or almonds. Let sit for at least 15 minutes before devouring.

Text and photography by Kate Darlington – Blooming Glen Farm second year intern, fresh food enthusiast, and budding food blogger. She also writes for the Digging Deep Campaign as well as for her personal blog, Growing Things.

This week’s share included the first “new potatoes” of the season, as well as fresh basil, sweet onions and very sweet and tender pick-your-own green beans. New potatoes are dug in the spring, and have a thin fragile skin. Unlike fall potatoes that have been cured and stored (their skin toughened to withstand long winter storage), these tender potatoes are meant to be stored in the fridge and eaten relatively quickly and do not need their skins peeled before eating. Our new potatoes go tumbling through a potato digger and then our root washer, which furthers removes some of the skin.

Share week 7, 6/26/12

Another tip for this week’s share: store your basil in a glass of water like a bouquet of flowers, on your counter, out of direct sunlight. It will keep here for a week or more (it may even start to send out roots!) and you can use the leaves as needed. Do not refrigerate basil!!

Enough about the veggies… how about those flowers! With over 50 different varieties of flowers, the pick-your-own flower patch is a patchwork of colors. Make sure you give yourself time to walk through the whole field so you can see all of what’s out there- different varieties are in different stages of bloom. 

Please read the following tips for pick-your-own flowers:

  • Bring your own clippers from home. If you forget, ask another CSA member to borrow theirs, ask a farmer, or come back another day. The flower patch is an especially beautiful place to be in the cooler evenings and early mornings, and is always “open” for cutting, even on the weekends. 
  • Please do not cut flowers from the discovery garden (where you will find the pick-your-own herbs) or walkway. These flowers are for everyone to enjoy in bloom.
  • Read the poster at the farm titled ” How to Cut Flowers”. This diagram shows the best way to cut your flowers in the field. Please teach your children the best way to cut flowers.
  • Bring a vessel you can fill up with water at the farm. (There is always a hose outside the distribution room  in our wash area). Cut your flowers right into your vessel. TIP:  For a portable vase, take a plastic gallon milk or juice container with a handle and cut a larger opening.
  • There are lots of flowers in the flower field, and they are primarily for your enjoyment! Please do not be shy about cutting a generous bouquet. Most flowers do best when the blooms are continuously cut, especially prolific flowers like zinnias. If you are interested in helping to maintain the flower patch by “deadheading” or weeding, let us know!
  • Re-cut your stems at an angle when you get home.
  • Strip the stems. No leaves under water!!
  • Make a home made preservative: Mix 1 tsp vinegar, 1 T sugar, and 1 aspirin tablet to 24 ounces of water.
  • Cut stems again every other day, and change the vase water.
  • Do not use public water– it may contain chlorine.
  • Don’t put your vase in direct sunlight or near a bowl of fruit.

Love the flowers and want to learn more?? At Blooming Glen Farm on Thursday, July 19th at 6pm, join flower professional Lyn Hicks of Harmony Hill Gardens for “Creating with Flowers”. Lyn will offer you tips to making beautiful centerpieces for your home. A passionate GREEN spokesperson, student and educator, Lyn Hicks leads the Green Collaboration, and is Flower Expert for The Green Bride.

This fun hands-on class with Lyn will help you understand harvest and post harvest to keep your flowers longer, you’ll learn the magic of putting together your own floral piece step by step, and you will leave with a self created centerpiece and the knowledge to present your flowers in a new way throughout your summer. All flowers and containers are included. Go to the calendar of our website for more info and to pre-register.

Important reminder regarding pick-up logistics: we realize that things do happen during pick-up days that can prevent you from being able to come get your share. However, over the years we have developed the policy, as stated in the CSA Rough Guide, that once the pick-up is over, pick-up is OVER. If you are unable to pick up on Tuesday, that does not mean you can come on Thursday, or vice versa. (**We can accomodate switches with prior notice, by 7 pm Sunday of the week you want to switch.)  Even if you encounter an emergency (as we all do at times), we are not able to hold food for you to pick-up at a later time or day. Please understand that we are sympathetic to your emergency, but we have found logistically it is important for our sanity to have a policy in place for missed pick-ups. At our discretion, some or all of any extra food will be donated to a local Food Pantry. Our crew is often in the fields until 6:30pm or later, and the farm family often works later then that. As you can imagine with over 150 people picking up on any given distribution day, there can be a half a dozen pleading phone calls on our answering machine every pick-up evening when we finally are able to come in for dinner. Please find an “emergency” friend or neighbor that you can call that can come pick up the share for you on your allotted pick-up day between 1 and 8pm. In the case that you are just unable to get your share or find anyone to help you, you are always welcome to come and do the pick-your-own crops before the next pick-up week begins- the information will still be on the board until the following Tuesday. Thank you for your understanding.

Photos and text by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner.

RadicchioRadicchio (pronounced rad-EE-key-o) is a leaf chicory common in Italian and Mediterranean cooking that is familiar to us mostly because of its inclusion in “spring mix” salads. Nutritionally, radicchio is low in saturated fat, and very low in cholesterol. It’s a very good source of vitamins C, E, and K, folate, potassium, copper, and manganese, and a good source of fiber, vitamins B5 (pantothenic acid) and B6, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc.  The presence of vitamins C and E, zinc, and carotenoids, give radicchio antioxidant properties. Antioxidants protect and repair cells from the damage caused by free radicals that contribute to many chronic diseases (including heart disease), cancers, inflammatory conditions (including arthritis), and immune system dysfunction.

While radicchio is clearly a great veggie to include in our diets, one issue that most people have with it — myself included! — is its bitter flavor.  This bitterness is actually due to intybin, a substance in radicchio that is beneficial to our blood and digestive systems, and is traditionally used for its sedative, analgesic, and antimalarial effects. There are two ways to diminish the bitterness: either soaking in ice water for 30 minutes (for salads and slaws), or cooking. The recipe below uses the latter method, and also the common practice of including sweet ingredients (fresh citrus, honey, raisins and figs are common in radicchio dishes) to further cut any bitterness. Note that simply soaking or cooking in no way eliminates radicchio’s bitterness, but simply lessens it.

References and recommended links:

Sautéed Radicchio & OnionsSautéed Radicchio & Sweet Onion
Ingredients
1-1/2 tsp olive oil
1 large Vidalia onions (or other sweet onion), sliced (~2 cups)
1 head radicchio with outer green leaves, cut into ribbons (~4 cups)
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 tsp agave (or other sweetener)
Salt and pepper to taste

Method
Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook until they become soft and translucent, stirring often, about 7 minutes. Add vinegar and stir to blend. Add radicchio, agave, salt, and pepper. Continue cooking, tossing frequently, until radicchio is tender, about 5 minutes.  Serve hot, at room temperature, or chilled. Serving suggestions include:

  • On it’s own, topped with sunflower or sesame seeds, as a small dish or snack (pictured)
  • As a side dish, topped with chopped nuts or cheese, for diner
  • With smoked mozarella or gruyère as a topping on a white pizza
  • As a filling for an omlete or quiche
  • In a sandwich or wrap
  • With roasted garlic and oil as a pasta topping
  • With roasted veggies as a salad topping

Post and photos by Mikaela D. Martin: Blooming Glen CSA member since 2005, board-certified health counselor, and co-founder and -owner of Guidance for Growing, an integrative wellness practice in Souderton. Read more about healthy eating and living on her site, http://guidanceforgrowing.com!

Summer Solstice is upon us, the longest day of the year. With it comes the first heat wave of the season, a strong reminder of the sun’s power. The evening light glows until past 9:30 pm, highlighted by the flashes of fireflies flickering above the fields, and often punctuated by the steady buzz of the tractor as Farmer Tom works late into the cooler evenings. Here at the farm the summer solstice is the peak of planting time- we are on just the last few pages of our planting chart- a chart that begins in February with onion and celeriac seeding. Today the farm crew harvested a few thousand cucumbers- truly a welcome sign of summer. You can almost sit and watch the tomatoes growing, and I confess, we ate the first ripe heirloom tomato from the greenhouses! The field tomatoes are all trellised on a system called the weave- we can chart the growth of the tomatoes by how quickly we need to add layers of string. The crops aren’t the only thing growing at the farm- it’s a battle to stay on top of the weeds. Most of the weeds are pulled by hand, but the weeds in the aisles between the beds are cultivated with a tractor….the rainy weather kept us out of the fields and the weeds got ahead of us. Now we play catch up.  

Tom cultivating the melon aisles and Jill trellising the cherry tomatoes

The share this week has the first of the garlic- we pulled the bulbs fresh- you can peel them and use the moist aromatic cloves just like you would regular garlic.

CSA share week 6, 6/19/12

Happy Summer Solstice! The bounty of the summer season lies ahead of us- the flowers, the fruits, and all the wonderful vegetables we will enjoy this season. In honor of the summer solstice, and those beautiful, sprawling, flowering, melon vines, I found this poem.

Night in Day
by Joseph Stroud

The night never wants to end, to give itself over
to light. So it traps itself in things: obsidian, crows.
Even on summer solstice, the day of light’s great
triumph, where fields of sunflowers guzzle in the sun–
we break open the watermelon and spit out
black seeds, bits of night glistening on the grass.

Photos and text by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner.

Garlic scapes are the flower shoots that grow from the hard-neck varieties of garlic grown here on the farm. By plucking them from the plant, we encourage the bulbs to grow fat in the ground and simultaneously get yet another way to enjoy garlicky goodness.

Don’t be overwhelmed by the mass of these curlicues you’ve acquired in the last two weeks. Garlic scapes are wonderfully versatile. In any recipe that calls for garlic, you can replace one clove for about one scape. Because they are milder than cloves, garlic scapes can also be eaten more like a side dish than a seasoning. Just chop several into 2-inch segments and sauté on high heat with a bit of oil until they are tender and a bit caramelized.

I use garlic scape and kale pesto in this recipe to make a delicious filling for chickpea flour crepes. It may look and sound fancy, but it was a synch to whip up (I did it in about 10 minutes over lunch the other day). Chickpea flour is now widely available as a gluten-free substitute for wheat flour (I think I even found it in the local Landis). If you can’t find it or don’t have it, the recipe should work just fine with whole-wheat flour.

Use the leftovers of this pungent pesto to add flavor to soup or steamed veggies, toss with pasta, or garnish a rich piece of grilled meat.

Chickpea Flour Crepes with Savory Sautéed Veggies

Heat a small amount of oil or butter in a non-stick or cast iron pan. When oil is hot, add 1 cup sliced summer squash. When squash is tender, add 1 cup chopped kale, Swiss chard, or beet greens. Cook until greens are just wilted. Toss veggies with 2 tablespoons garlic scape pesto.

Whisk together one egg, ½ cup chickpea flour, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and a pinch of salt in a bowl. Slowly whisk in warm water until the batter becomes thin and pourable (thinner than pancake batter).

Ladle a small amount of the batter onto a hot, non-stick griddle or pan. Using the back of the ladle, spread the batter into a thin layer about the size of a tortilla. Carefully flip the crepe with a large spatula when the top starts to form bubbles and the bottom is golden brown. Repeat with the rest of the batter.

Spoon some vegetable mixture in the center of a crepe, sprinkle with some crumbled goat or feta cheese, and fold crepe over into a large taco shape.

Garlic Scape and Kale Pesto

In a food processor combine:

4-5 garlic scapes, chopped
½ cup kale, chopped
5 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons raw pumpkin or sunflower seeds (*pesto hint: you can replace pine nuts with sunflower seeds in almost any pesto recipe for a nearly identical taste at a much more affordable price)
juice of 1 small lemon
pinch of salt

Process until garlic and kale are minced and ingredients are well blended together. Pesto can be stored in the fridge for about a week.

Text and photography by Kate Darlington – Blooming Glen Farm second year intern, Colorado native, and food lover. 

The rain came down on Tuesday but thanks to a big effort on Monday rototilling and making beds, we were ready for the storm. Today was spent in a monumental weeding and planting push. The butternut and delicata winter squash finally went in, as well as dill, more lettuce, fennel, basil, beets and green beans. There is still lots of catching up to be done in the weeding department, but we’re getting there!

Before and After: Winter Squash!

For one week only, some beautiful sweet broccoli makes an appearance in the share. We’ll see more of this cool weather loving crop in the fall!

CSA Share, week 5, 6/12/12

The summer crops are growing well- we are starting to see little itty bitty cucumbers, the watermelon vines are sprawling across the aisles, the tomatoes are growing in leaps and bounds and the basil is almost ready to pick!

Basil, Potato Flowers and Greenhouse Tomatoes

Basil, Potato Flowers and Greenhouse Tomatoes

And of course, it’s just the beginning of the summer squash harvest! We are very happy to announce a new addition to the farm- a conveyor belt! Picking squash is back-breaking work. But especially so when you have to haul a bin along with you as you search and pick amongst the plants. With the conveyor belt, this step is eliminated. You still have to bend over and pick, but now you stand and put the squash on the conveyor belt, where it heads for the farm cart and a sorter who packs it into the bins. We can’t wait to use it on cucumbers and watermelons!

Harvesting summer squash using a conveyor belt.

Photos and text by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner.

Kohlrabi before & afterKohrabi is a member of the Brassica oleracea, or cabbage, family.  Hugely popular centuries ago, kohlrabi has made a resurgence over the past several years, increasing in availability, thanks to its easy-to-grow nature.  As with most veggies, kohlrabi is low in calories, fat, and cholesterol, is high in fiber, and is super versatile. It’s a good source of thiamin, folate, magnesium, and phosphorus, and a very good source of vitamins C and B6, potassium, copper and manganese.

Kohlrabi can be eaten raw or cooked.  Its mild taste (much more modest than it’s broccoli and cabbage family members) makes it a great ingredient for slaw and salad recipes.  It’s also a very popular ingredient in Indian cooking, where it becomes tender and takes on the many exotic flavors of Indian spices.  You can click here for a raw Kohlrabi and Turnip Slaw recipe from Blooming Glen, and read below for a cooked Kohlrabi Dal with Aromatic Rice recipe.

Want to know more about kohlrabi? Here are some recommended links:

Kohlrabi Dal & Aromatic Rice

Kohlrabi Dal with Aromatic Rice

Ingredients
1 cup brown basmati or brown jasmine rice

1 kohlrabi (about 2 cups), plus greens, diced or chopped
2 cups red lentils
2 tsp tumeric, divided

1 modest splash grapeseed oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 large onion (about 2 cups), chopped
1 large tomato (about 2 cups), diced

1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon garam masala powder
1 teaspoon salt

chopped cilantro, optional
shredded coconut, optional

Method
Prepare rice as directed on package.

Combine kohlrabi, lentils, and half the turmeric with 3 cups of water in a pot. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low. Simmer until the lentils (dal) is tender, about 20 to 25 minutes. Salt to taste and set aside.

While the kohlrabi and dal are cooking, heat oil in a deep skillet. Add garlic, mustard seeds and cumin seeds. When the seeds begin to pop, add the onion and remaining turmeric and sauté until onions start to soften, about 2-3 minutes (add a little water, if needed).  Add the tomato, mix well, and cook until tender. Stir in the kohrabi-dal mixture, chili powder, cumin powder, coriander powder, and garam masala powder, and cook until flavors mix, about 5-10 minutes. Add salt, stir well, and adjust to taste.

Divide kohlrabi dal and rice into 6 servings, top with chopped cilantro leaves and/or shredded coconut.

Post and photo by Mikaela D. Martin: Blooming Glen CSA member since 2005, board-certified health counselor, and co-founder and -owner of Guidance for Growing, an integrative wellness practice in Souderton. Read more about healthy eating and living on her site, http://guidanceforgrowing.com!

A farmers plea: Enough rain already. Seriously. The storms can pass Blooming Glen by. Our plants are waterlogged and stressed, the farmers are muddy and stressed, our stressed seedlings want to get planted but the fields are too muddy to plow and make beds. Nothing has been planted for two and a half weeks now. Come on sunshine, shine on Blooming Glen Farm (for at least two weeks, please, because that’s what we need to dry out these fields!!)

CSA Share week 4, 6/5/12

Despite all the rain, the strawberries seem to be holding out for a fourth week of picking. Here at the farm I have discovered a new, refreshing way to enjoy, and preserve, the fleeting strawberry season. The best thing about this method is that you don’t need the most pristine fruit- which is perfect for rained on berries! It’s a beverage called a Strawberry Shrub.

Shrubs were popular in Colonial times, as a way to preserve fruit before refrigeration was possible. Vinegar based drinks were long ago used by farmers as a way to quench their thirst during hay season (and perhaps to soothe the nerves with a little rum added during rainy stretches!). Last summer I discovered and fell in love with the vinegar-based drink, the switchel, even more so after seeing its mention in Little House on the Prairie.

After hearing about shrubs (the drink, not the plant), I’ve been wanting to try making it myself. A shrub is a concentrated syrup made from fruit, vinegar and sugar that is traditionally mixed with water to create a drink that is both sweet and tart.

Looking online, there seems to be two methods: cold-brew and stove-top. The cold-brew method, which in contrast to a stove-top method, supposedly keeps the fruit flavor pure and bright. Well, I decided to try both and see for myself. The cold-brew technique most definitely kept the integrity of the strawberry flavor better and the end result was a gorgeous strawberry red! So that’s the recipe you’ll find below.

Strawberry Shrub

Strawberry Shrub

Take one part sugar to one part strawberries. (This could be 1 cup fruit to 1 cup sugar, if you like). Cover the quartered fruit with sugar, stir to combine and stash in your fridge for a 5-6 hours, up to a few days. Your fruit should be surrounded by a thick juicy syrup.

Strain the syrup from the solids (press onto the fruit to get any extra juice out), scraping any excess sugar out of the bowl and into the syrup. *That leftover fruit will be really sweet, but a great icecream or pound cake topper!

Add 1 cup apple cider vinegar to the syrup (or equal parts depending on how much fruit and sugar you started with). I like to use Bragg’s raw organic apple cider vinegar, which has a lot of reported health benefits. A little internet surfing also turned up a few balsamic vinegar based strawberry shrubs, so feel free to experiment.

Whisk to combine the vinegar and syrup. Put in a jar and shake well. Refrigerate. Check and shake it periodically. After about a week the acids in the juice and vinegar will dissolve all the sugar. My guess is that the shrub will keep for months in your fridge, if you can resist it for that long!

Now how to use a shrub? To make a delicious drink, take 1-2 tablespoons of the shrub mixture and place it in a glass. Pour in tonic or sparkling water. (I was happy with 2 tablespoons shrub to a pint jar glass of seltzer). Add spirits if desired. The resulting drink will be a pale pink in color. Enjoy!

Photos and text by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner.