How you bring home your summer CSA share can set you up to easily, successfully, and deliciously use your share. This is an update from a previous winter-share focused post.
First thing is first – when you pick up your CSA, bring grocery totes. The box that your share is given to you in is awkward to carry. And if you bring the box home, you have to remember to bring it back (and, I don’t know about you, but I never remember to do that) because most farms reuse those box week to week. A better option is to bring a few shopping totes. I bring three bags for our share, which feeds 2-4 people. I could fit the share in two large bags, but I like to have a third bag for delicate items, like tomatoes or peaches.
When you get home, lay everything out on your counter and take an inventory. List what you got and how much to help with meal planning. Including the quantity will help to determine if it needs to be used in one or more dishes. Check if anything is damaged – star those items so that when you go to meal plan, you know that you will need to use those items first so that they don’t spoil. Check out my meal planning post for how I make sure to use up all my vegetables.
Take anything left over from the previous week and consolidate into one of your produce drawers, using the other drawer for the new share. That way, you know what you still need to use up before starting on the new stuff. This is also an opportunity to clean out the empty drawer before you put anything new in. A quick vacuum (yes, I vacuum my refrigerator) and a swipe with a damp towel, and you’re good to go!
Before putting everything away in your fridge, separate leafy green tops from root vegetables. This keeps the root vegetables fresh longer – if you leave the tops on, you will find that your root veggies get soft quicker. Doing this also make storage easier. Then decide if you are going to use the vegetable tops or if you would rather discard them. It is okay to get rid of them – it took me a few seasons just getting comfortable enough with the influx of vegetables to even be able to even to consider using the tops.
I also recommend that you wash and prepare your lettuce immediately. It keeps it fresh longer and makes it more likely that you will use it. Separate the leaves into a big bowl, fill with some salted cold water (helps remove the little bugs that might be on there), and let sit for a few minutes. Remove leaves in batches to your salad spinner and rip into bite-sized pieces to spin down. Store in a large ziploc bag or tupperware container with a folded paper towel to absorb any moisture.