Cooking away the CSA, week 14: The juice on dealing with abundance

Green juice: My produce secret weapon.

Green juice: My produce secret weapon. by Sarah Henning

We’re officially halfway through the CSA season, and therefore we’ve turned a corner where tomatoes are the norm, local sweet corn makes its brief appearance and basil goes with every meal.

Abundance is coming.

And it is both amazing and amazingly rough.

Having plenty is a fabulous feeling, but the worry of having it all go bad before you can use it all? As horrible as plenty is wonderful.

Some people deal with abundance by canning. The lovely Megan Stuke is fabulous at this. Me? I’m fairly certain I’ll give myself botulism if I so much as try canning. I’ve been trying to talk myself into trying it for years. Yet the fear wins out.

Here’s what I do instead with my abundance: Freeze it, dehydrate it or juice it.

Obviously, freezing it is the most accessible option. You just freeze something (like, say, cut-up local peaches) on a cookie tray lined with parchment, and when they’re nice and solid, transfer them to a plastic bag, remove the air and you’re done. This works with almost anything.

I’m lucky enough to have a dehydrator, and I often use it to dry out slices from local apples or pears, make zucchini or kale chips or dry out herbs like rosemary and basil.

But here’s the last abundance-eater, juicing: You get to enjoy you abundance IN THE NOW.

If you do it right.

Because here’s the thing. Last week, I juiced both my chard and my yellow squash received from our Rolling Prairie CSA pickup. Those probably sound like the worst things in the world to juice. Probably.

But: If you can train yourself to make vegetable juice, you can not only knock out your abundances, you can basically have a homemade vitamin shot in a pint glass.

Because all of this:

An example of green juice veggies (pre-juicing, of course).

An example of green juice veggies (pre-juicing, of course). by Sarah Henning

Can become this:

The spoils of the previous vegetables.

The spoils of the previous vegetables. by Sarah Henning

And, if you leave out the fruit, or at least keep it very minimal, like a tart apple or two, you won’t be sugaring up your system. I used to always put an apple or pear in my juices, but I’ve trained myself to just spice it up with lemon or lime juice to cut some of the “green” flavor. I also add ginger or garlic to make it taste different. And before you turn your nose up at garlic: If you juice some basil with it and add lemon, your juice might actually taste like pesto, which isn’t as bad as it sounds.

Now, a word about fiber: Yes, fiber is great for you. Eat it. But, no, your veggie juice will not have fiber. Make sure you get it, but, yes, you’ll be losing some of it here. I’m not a doctor, but personally, I think that’s fine as long as your juice isn’t some pear-apple-pineapple fruit bomb, that, while delicious, is pure sugar and vitamins. I’m no doctor, so that’s all I’m going to say about that (and what I’ve said is my opinion).

So, if you’re brave enough to try vegetable juice and own a juicer or have access to it, here’s a juice I made this week that I recommend as you try. You may find it disgusting, or you may end up craving it. But the more you drink, the cleaner your fridge will be, and the more food you will have eaten that didn’t go bad or get saved for later.

Summer Strong Green Juice

1 bunch kale, Swiss chard or romaine

1 head celery

2 cucumbers, zucchini or yellow squash (or a mix)

1 handful basil

1-2 carrots (if you want it sweeter)

1 clove garlic or 1 thumb ginger (if you’re brave!)

1 or 2 hefty squeezes of lemon (or run 1 to 2 lemons sans peel and pith through juicer)

Run ingredients through juicer. Guzzle.

Note: I also like to mix in my liquid probiotic. Because it’s sour, it goes well and helps the lemon to “cut” the green flavor.

So, what’d we get this week from Rolling Prairie? Kale, potatoes, green beans, onions, squash, broccoli, corn on the cob.

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