Monday, April 12, 2010

There's Always More Room In The Tub


Spring is here and as you can see the greenhouse looks phenomenal.  The soil is warming up and everything is already growing faster than during the winter months.  It's amazing to see these changes occur in such a short span of time.

Due to one hell of a traffic jam, things started off pretty slow.  Unfortunately, a couple of wheelbarrows tipped over and some enormous tree logs ended up right in the middle of the street.  Just an ugly scene as you can see it was a pretty serious backup.

Luckily, the problem was resolved and although people were not happy with the delay, no one was hurt and that's what important.

Today, spinach was on the menu and Captain Jack had us harvesting two different types:
Red Cardinal Spinach

The Red Cardinal has a dark green color with beautiful red veins running through it.  It grows faster than all-green spinach taking between 21-32 days depending on what size you are looking for.  Although it looks similar to a Bordeaux Spinach, the Red Cardinal grows more upright.
Regiment Spinach

The Regiment looks and tastes completely different.  It's bigger with a more triangular shape taking about 42 days to be ready for its first harvest.

We rinsed the freshly harvested spinach in a poly tub filled with a 100 gallons of water and a half cap or less of bleach.  Although the farm uses completely untreated water from a local well and the bleach is not truly necessary to clean the spinach, this tiny amount of bleach helps kill off any unwanted bacteria and disease if it were to exist.  Adding bleach at all seemed strange at first, but it is important to note this amount of bleach still contains less chlorine than New York City drinking water.

Using the same process we did back in March when we washed the Mache only on a larger scale, we made sure all the spinach got cycled through the water.

From there we took the spinach and put it in a washing machine, yes you heard correctly a regular old WASHING machine, for a quick 4 minute spin cycle.  This also may sound a bit strange, but when you compare it to the other options it's the smartest idea I've ever heard.  Some commercial vegetable spinners can cost around $1200 and break in a few months.  Even this little puny orange manual spinner can cost up to around $300 and you have to do it yourself wasting precious farm time!
Well just like Goldilocks, the third option was just right.  For the low low price of just around $275, this old and used clothing washer can be yours!  With one small adjustment, the Captain removed the agitator from inside the used washing machine and vuala! He created the brand new vegetable dryer.
Before putting the spinach in the old and used washing machine/brand new vegetable dryer, you want to grab a bunch of spinach and make sure to shake off as much excess water as possible.

It is good to open the lid about halfway through the cycle to make sure the bigger leaves aren't locking in the smaller leaves preventing them from getting dry.  This is especially important for the Regiment, since it is so much bigger.
Once we finished the drying the Regiment, we changed the water and used the same process for the Red Cardinal.  As always, a taste test was a must.


Another great day at the farm.  Not only did we get to see a major auto accident averted, but we got to harvest, wash and taste some special spinach.

But no day would be complete without taking home some delicious weeds.  
While harvesting the spinach we came across the most unique tasting plant yet...Wood Sorrel (Oxalis) (in the bag above on the left).  Biting into this wiry, clover looking plant, we discovered what could only be described as mouthwatering sour candy reminiscent of our beloved WarHead sucking candies; remember those?  It was an incredible burst of flavor.  Here is a plant that looks so unassuming, but upon first bite the sour sting just jumps on your taste buds.

See, same effect...

Wood Sorrel (Oxalis)

The captain explained that this sour almost lemony taste was due to a high content of oxalic acid, hence the name Oxalis.  Interestingly enough, oxalic acid is found in a lot of vegetables such as spinach, beets and kale.  The issue with consuming oxalic acid is that it binds with the calcium content and prevents your body from absorbing these nutrients.  To reduce the oxalic acid, simply lightly cook the vegetables and enjoy.


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