Chard and Summer White Bean Ragout

Chard_Rhubarb

I hate to admit it but we’re the Kelsey Grammer of market gardens. Which is to say, we’re typecast. Like Kelsey playing the same character across three different sitcoms, we’re at our best when growing greens. Sure people come to us for a lot of things like carrots, beets, broccoli and such, but our regulars, the folks who come every week and who’ve been with us for months now, all come for our greens.. We’ve been strong with greens from the very start, opening our first market, way back in April, with three kales, two types of spinach, mizuna, tatsoi and lettuce. Latter we were one of very few growers with Broccoli Rabe (rapin), which sold great. Over the summer, we’ve kept up with our three kales and might be the only one still bringing spinach. We’ve had to step down to a single spinach variety but we’re still there and it sells out every week. Recently, with summer blazing, we’ve added chard to the lineup. We’ve had it at market for the last five weeks or so and as we’ve come to expect from our wonderfully greens-centric customers, it’s sold great.

Chard_Stems

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Baby Beets - Balsamic Glazed Tops and Bottoms

Beets_whole

The standard line for growing beets on a small farm is this: plant dense, thin for greens, harvest  young for baby beets then harvest old for storage. One planting, three crops, three meals, it sounds perfect. And in practice it’s pretty good. It’s a scheme that’s served us well for eons, but it’s not perfect. The problem is the storage piece at the end.  Beets are best when their small. Golf ball size is ideal. At this size they’re sweet and tender. They pickle well, clean up well and  you don’t have to cook them for hours. But as they age, they get woody and woodier.  Around baseball size their quality really starts to decline. They get bland, are no longer much good served raw and really should be peeled before cooking.

Beet_seeds

(A quick observation: beet seeds might be the coolest things in the garden. They’re a bone yard. They’re Kuiper Belt refuges. They’re rubble in the wasteland. They’re fantastic!)

Unfortunately, large beets are very common, especially at big grocery stores. Most grocers buy produce from big farms and most big farms grow their beets big. They want them large because they last longer. Big beets can sit in boxes, on trucks and on grocery shelfs much longer than small, tasty ones can. It’s about serving a distant retail customer and it’s a crying shame. Baby beets are so much better.

Beets_bowl

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