Forest Run Farm’s Veggie-pedia
Apples: We have four Red Delicious apple trees on the Farm. We do not treat them with any inputs so the yield and the amount of pest activity on the Apples depends entirely on whatever hand Nature deals us each year. This year things seem to be going quite well for the Apples. There are bug holes in just about every one of them, but that just assures you that no toxic input was used on the plants or the fruit.
Beans: Beans grow in two general forms, Bush and Pole. We mostly grow Bush Beans for the shares and Pole Beans for Dilly Day (September 5th!). We have beans that are green, yellow, and yellow with purple spots. Beans can be eaten cooked or raw. They should be stored in a sealed container in the fridge for about a week. They freeze really easily (it does require blanching) and can be canned with a pressure canner. Beans are low calorie and an excellent source of fiber, vitamin A, and also plant derived micro-nutrients.
Beets: Originally Beets were grown for their greens (they are closely related to Swiss Chard). The first recorded case of further development of the root was in 1542, so Beets have been around for a while. Beets can be boiled or steamed then peeled and eaten warm or cold, they can be cooked and pickled, or eaten raw once peeled and shredded for a salad. To store, cut the leaves from the bulbs and store in a container in the fridge for use within two days, the bulbs should be stored in their own container in the fridge for up to ten days. Beets are low in calories, have no cholesterol and little fat. They are high in fiber, vitamins C, B, and A, and contain beneficial minerals and anti-oxidants.
Bok Choy: This “chinese cabbage” has been eaten in China and other parts of Asia for over 1,500 years. The leaves, stems, and stalk of the plant can all be consumed raw or cooked in a variety of recipes. The whole head can be stored in a plastic bag or container in the fridge for up to a week. Bok choy is an excellent source of vitamins A, C, K, and B6 as well as calcium, potassium, and iron among other things.
Broccoli: The unopened flower of the brassica family, Broccoli is also probably the most well known especially among the 0-12 year old market. It has an extra sweetness to it that the other brassicas do not. The entire plant (leaves, stalk, and floret) is edible and should be eaten. It can be stored in an open (not sealed) plastic bag in the fridge for around ten days or frozen to store long-term.
Buttercup Squash: This Winter Squash has dark green skin that sometimes has silver streaks in it. It has a little cup or crown on the bottom where the blossom was that is lighter in color. Buttercup Squash have orange, dense flesh that is not watery. They are sweet and resemble a Hubbard Squash or Sweet Potato more than a Butternut Squash in flavor. They can be difficult to peel, so it is suggested to cut them in half lengthwise, remove the seeds, and bake face down in the oven until soft enough for the flesh to be scooped out of the shell.
Butternut Squash: A favorite of many, Butternut Squash are easily recognizable by its shape. Butternut are light tan in color. The firm and slightly sweet flesh is bright orange. They are easy to peel which makes them ideal for steaming and mashing, but they can also be baked in the method described for the Buttercup Squash.
Cabbage: This member of the brassica family grows as a tight head of thick leaves. We grow two varieties at FRF, Golden Acres and Red Express, both of which are smooth leaf varieties. Cabbage is often eaten in soup, salads, sauteed, raw, stuffed, or just about any other way you can think of. Placed whole in a sealed container or bag, cabbage should last up to two weeks in the fridge. Once chopped it should be used within 48 hours. Cabbage is low calorie and high in many vitamins like C, K, and several minerals that help prevent cancer.
Carnival, Acorn, and Delicata Squash: These are a single entry in the Vegie-pedia because they have a relation. Carnival (aka Dumpling) Squash is the result of the combination of Acorn Squash (which are acorn shaped and have dark green skin that is thick like a typical winter squash) and Delicata Squash (which are tubular shaped, cream and green or orange striped, and have delicate skin atypical for winter squash). Carnival squash are shaped like the Acorn and colored like the Delicata. They all can just about be used in place of each other, but it’s important to note that the Delicata will not store for as long as the other two.
Carrots: The favorite veggie of 5-year-olds and bunny rabbits, carrots are the root part of the plant. Usually orange, they can also be red, purple, white, or yellow. Eaten raw or cooked they have a sweet flavor that makes them so palatable. They can be stored in the refrigerator for several months, or in a cool damp place for even longer. Carrots are rich in vitamins, dietary fiber, and anti-oxidants.
Celery: As a relative of Carrots and Parsley, Celery’s leaves are also edible. Our celery is much more suited to use cooked rather than eaten raw because we do not do a thing called “blanching” which involves wrapping the plants in some material and watering them like crazy so they grow in the pale green very thick stalks you are used to seeing at the grocery store. Celery should be stored in a sealed container in your crisper drawer for the best results.
Cucumber: Cucumbers are the most widely cultivated member of the gourd family. They are used as a vegetable, usually raw or pickled. We grow many varieties of two main types of cucumbers, slicers and picklers. Cucumbers should be stored in sealed containers or wrapped in plastic and placed in the warmest part of your refrigerator.
Dill: This herb is most often used for pickling and in veggie dip. Different parts of the plant are used at different points of maturity. There is Dill Weed, Dill Heads, and Dill Seed. Dill weed is the leaves of the young plant, Dill Heads are the flowering tops of the nearly mature plant (this is what is favored among picklers), and Dill Seed are the seeds that are collected from dried Dill Heads that are fully mature.
Eggplant: This member of the Nightshade family is native to India. We grow four or five varieties, a few dark purple, large pear-shaped ones that most Americans are familiar with, dark and lighter purple long and slender eggplant, and white and purple large egg-ish shaped ones. Eggplant are not eaten raw, but can be cooked in a variety of ways, the most favored is breaded and fried or baked. Eggplant do not store well and should be used very soon after picking. They may be blanched or baked and frozen for long-term storage. Eggplant are low calorie and low in many vitamins, but are high in dietary fiber.
Garlic: Garlic comes in three forms at FRF. 1) Garlic Scapes, the flower shoot of the garlic plant takes energy from the bulb, so we cut it off to remind the plant of where we really want it to focus. Scapes are lighter in flavor than the other two garlic types, which gives them more versatility in use. 2) Green Garlic is garlic picked before full maturity. The whole plant can be used. Green Garlic is to Garlic as Green Onions are to Onions. 3)Garlic, fully mature with bulbs that are cured so they can be stored through winter.
Ground Cherries: This very strange fruit is in a category all its own. The husks are removed and the little fruit inside is eaten. Their taste is reminiscent of cherries and tomatoes, or some have a more pineapple-y flavor. They offer themselves well to many dessert recipes, but are best enjoyed husked and popped in your mouth. Husked fruits can keep in the fridge for about seven days and they can be frozen for longer storage.
Hot and Spicy: This is a mixture of many leafy greens of the brassica family such as mizuna, arugula, tatsoi, and kale that is great as a salad or stir-fry additive. Although it’s name would suggest more, it is only mildly hot and spicy in flavor, but rather more peppery overall. However, if you choose to eat that big red leaf all on it’s own, be prepared for some sinus clearing, eye watering, heat.
Hot Peppers: We grow many varieties of Hot Peppers at FRF. With heat levels ranging from Pepperoncini to Habenero, it might be helpful to find the Scoville Heat Unit (SHU) of each pepper variety before you try it. Hot Peppers should be stored at 50 degrees (either in a warm spot in the fridge or a cool spot on your counter top) for up to five days. For long term storage, they can be chopped up and frozen or they can be pickled and canned with a hot water bath. Week 18′s Hot Pepper Bag includes: Pepperoncini, Jalapeno, Serrano, Black Hungarian, Hungarian Hot Wax, and Cayenne Chili Peppers.
Kale: Kale is a CSA staple. At FRF we grow at least four varieties every year (Red Russian, White Russian, Vates, and Lacinato). This year we are adding Lacinato, or Dino, Kale to our repertoire for its deep blue-green-purple crinkly leaves (think dinosaur scales). Kale is probably the most popular member of the brassica family, although broccoli and cabbage give it a run for it’s money, and it is one of the most versatile as it can be used in everything from salad to lasagna and anything in between. Kale should be stored in a bag or sealed container in the fridge for around a week. Wilted Kale might be revived by sticking it in a glass of cold water in a cool place for a few hours.
Kohlrabi: There’s no getting over it, Kohlrabi looks weird. It is in the same family as broccoli, Kale, and cabbage and tastes like them, but with a little bit of a spicy kick to it. Kohlrabi appears to still be relatively unexplored by most food bloggers, but it’s clear that it is good to add crunch factor to salads as well as roasted like a root vegetable. The greens can and should also be used like any cooking greens. Kohlrabi can be stored in a crisper drawer for a week or more.
Leeks: A member of the Allium family, Leeks have a flavor similar to Onions, but generally more mild and more sweet. We do not grow Leeks every year and there is plenty room for improvement in how we manage our crop of them, but we’re working on it. The white part of the Leek is the part preferred for eating (unlike Green Onions which can be eaten in their entirety). Leeks are most commonly used in soups.
Lettuce: We grow over ten varieties of head lettuce and at least as many varieties of leaf lettuce on the Farm and each have unique flavor profiles, shapes, colors, sizes, and nutritional benefits. It’s easy to get in a rut using lettuce for salads and sandwiches only, but there are many other possibilities including soup, braised, and salad wraps. The whole head should be stored in a bag or container in the fridge. Romaine will last at least a week while butterheads and leaf lettuce should be used within a few days. Like many other leafy greens, lettuce is low calorie, but high in vitamin A, vitamin K, and in B-complex group vitamins as well as many other beneficial nutrients.
Melon: Growing melon in WI can be tricky. They generally require a warmer and longer growing season than we usually have and the variability can drive some farmers crazy. We grow smaller varieties of melon that take fewer days to maturity to try to have success each year. Sometimes John just says “Sweet Melon” to refer to both Watermelon and Honeyrock. We have two varieties of Watermelon, Sugar Baby and Crimson Sweet. Both are “individual” sized melons. Honeyrock are an heirloom variety that is very similar to canteloupe, but can be larger and are sweeter. Melons should be eaten ASAP after picking, really they are best eaten while you are still in the field.
Mizuna: This mildly spicy green is a rarity in the US, but is growing in popularity much like it’s relative, Arugula. Commonly eaten raw in salads as a flavor additive. Other uses include adding leaves to pasta or pizza dishes after the cooking process to wilt slightly, but add a pleasant fresh crunch to the dish. The leaves should be washed to remove any dirt and dried in a salad spinner, or gently between paper towels, then stored in a plastic bag or container in the fridge for as few days as possible until use. The herb is related to watercress and radishes and has a similar mustard, or peppery, flavor. It is low in calories and high in vitamin C, iron, and antioxidants.
Napa Cabbage: We have two varieties of Napa, or Chinese, Cabbage. 1)Bilko, which can grow to be very large and 2) Soloist which remains small, around 1 pound, when mature. The cabbage is oblong compared to traditional cabbage, with wrinkled leaves. It is frequently used in fried rice and stir fries, but can also be very successful as a wrap, in soups, and in any recipes that call for cabbage. It is high in vitamin C as well as absorb-able calcium.
Okra: This plant is native to Ethiopia and is commonly used in African food as well as Southern food thanks to seeds carried to the US by slaves. We grow a few varieties that produce different color and different size fruits. The best way to eat okra is raw and straight off the plant, but the next best way is to saute it in oil or butter with slight seasonings for about 30 seconds. When over-cooked it takes on a viscous texture that is unpleasant to many eaters. It is known for being a key ingredient in most gumbo recipes. Okra is sensitive to cold and would like to be stored at 50 degrees. It’s best to eat it as soon as you get it. It can be frozen after being blanched. Okra is an excellent source of vitamin C and magnesium.
Onions: We grow a few different kinds of onions, but we are most successful with Green Onions, also known as Scallions. Green Onions smell and taste like mild onions and are great cooked or raw. They may be used in any recipe that calls for onions, but have the added ability to be used for more delicate dishes, like raw salads. To make a bunch of Green Onions last for a while in the fridge, remove the rubber band and any less-than-fresh roots or tips and place in a plastic bag or sealed container.
Oregano: Most commonly known for its use in pizza sauce, oregano is a favorite for Italian dishes. It can be used fresh or can be dried by many different methods including hanging to dry or using a microwave, it also can be frozen in an ice cube tray full of water or olive oil. Oregano touts many health benefits including anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and has incredibly high amounts of vitamins K, A, and C.
Parsley: This green herb has been underrated for a while, but is now making a name for itself in the health foods circuit especially for juicers and smoothie makers. We grow both Curly and Flat Leaf Parsley. As mentioned, Parsley makes a great addition to health drinks and also salads raw. Dried or fresh it is used often in tomato sauce. It can be preserved in the ways listed for Oregano. It should be stored in a sealed container in the fridge to keep as long as possible. The herb has very high levels of Vitamins A, C, and K as well as good levels of potassium, calcium, manganese, iron, and magnesium.
Pattypan Squash: These flower shaped summer squash have very tender skin and flesh. The most daunting part of cooking them is figuring out how to cut them, but once you get over that they are great! Pattypan can be used in any way you would use a zucchini. They should be stored in the warmest part of your fridge (50 degrees is ideal) or a cool place on your counter-top for up to five days. Pattypan can be frozen like zucchini, or are sometimes pickled for long term storage.
Peas: We grow three kinds of peas on the Farm, snow, snap, and shelling. Snow peas are thin pods with small peas inside that are eaten whole, raw or cooked. Snap peas (sometimes called sugar snap peas) are round pods full of peas and are also eaten whole usually raw. Shelling peas grow like the other two in the pod, but the peas are taken out and eaten and the pods are discarded (or used to make veggie stock). Peas can last a week or so in a sealed container in the fridge, or may be frozen for longer storage.
Pie Pumpkin: Any Pumpkin variety can be eaten or used for pies- in fact, most of the pureed pumpkin in cans at the grocery store is actually Dickinson Squash, a very large and not pumpkin-ish looking squash. When we refer to Pie Pumpkins, we are talking about either Small Sugar Pumpkins or Long Pie Pumpkins. Both are smaller, about the size for a single (or maybe two) pumpkin pie(s). With a bit of effort they can be cut in half and de-seeded and baked, or they can be baked whole and let cool and then cut open and de-seeded. Of course, any pumpkin can also be used to make Jack-O-Lanterns if that is your preference, as long as someone can fit their hand inside to get all of the seeds out.
Potatoes: These root tubers have been a staple food for centuries. Some potatoes are better for long-term storage and some are not. The potato varieties we are growing this year are Dark Red Norland, French Fingerling, Kennebec, and Gold Rush Russet.
Radishes: Radishes are among the many (if not all) vegetables that are very different (as in, better) fresh from the farm than from the grocery store. We grow around 6 varieties of radish, but our favorite Spring radishes are French Breakfast, Cherry Belle, and German Giant. They are all along the red spectrum of color, but are in different shapes, sizes, and have varying levels of zing to their flavor. Radishes with their greens will last in the fridge in a sealed container for a week, but without their leaves they will last for longer. Radishes have low calorie count and high levels of vitamin C, as well as phosphorus and zinc and the greens can be used in soup stock for added nutritional benefits.
Raspberries: These berries are something we look forward to all year. Once they start producing, we can’t get enough fast enough. Raspberries make wonderful additions to desserts, breakfasts, and make wonderful jams, jellies, and syrups. But usually, we end up just eating them straight out of the container. These little fruits are full of anti-oxidants that are said to fight against cancer, aging, inflammation, and neuro-degenerative diseases.
Root Vegetable Bag: This bag includes Beets and two kinds of storage Radish: Daikon (long and white) and China Rose (radish shaped and red to white). These veggies are perfect for roasting, but can be split up and used in salads, can be steamed, or used in any other way you see fit. All of them should keep for a few weeks in a sealed container in the fridge.
Rhubarb: Although it is called a vegetable and treated like a fruit by cooks, rhubarb is technically an herb. No matter what you call it, this sour leaf stem is wildly popular at farmers’ markets and everyone’s Mom/Dad/Grandma has the best Rhubarb Crisp/Sauce/Pie recipe. Rhubarb will keep in a sealed container in the fridge for a few days, but for longer term storage it can be diced up and frozen. To make you feel a little better about all of the sugar that rhubarb recipes call for, rhubarb is low calorie and contains good amounts of vitamins A, K, and B.
Spaghetti Squash: Once cooked, the insides of this Winter Squash resemble the noodle from which it gets its name. Spaghetti Squash are usually pale yellow to yellow (there is an orange variety that we have not grown). It can be baked, boiled, microwaved, or a slow cooker can be used to make the flesh tender. Cured squash can be stored for a few months, but once cut it should be placed in a sealed container in the fridge for only a few days. Cooked Spaghetti Squash can be frozen for long-term storage. Spaghetti Squash is low carb and a good source of vitamins C, B6, and manganese.
Spinach: Spinach is a leafy green packed full of nutritional benefits. It offers different flavors raw or cooked and can be used in a large variety of recipes. If using fresh, store in a plastic bag or container in the fridge for a few days. It can also be steamed and frozen to be stored for use at a later date.
Sweet Peppers: Peppers are part of the Solanaceae family and like sunny days and warm nights. The fruit vary greatly in size, shape, color, and flavor are used in many styles cooking from Mediterranean to Mexican. Along with the usual bell shaped peppers that come in many colors, we grow a few varieties of “Lunchbox Peppers” which are mini bell peppers. Peppers prefer to be stored at 50 degrees which is cooler than most refrigerators, but they can be stored in the warmest part of your fridge (usually the top shelf) in an unsealed container for up to five days. Or on your counter-top for fewer days. Peppers freeze very easily for long term storage (and then used in a cooked dish, not raw) simply chop and freeze in a sealed container.
Sweet Potatoes: We grow a few varieties of Sweet Potatoes and change them up pretty much every year. The first bags sent out were Oh Henry which are white on the inside and outside. Sweet Potatoes can be baked or boiled and are enjoyed either sweet or savory. They are often found on health food lists for their fiber content and vitamin content.
Swiss Chard: Developed in the Mediterranean, this ancestor to Beets is grown for its leaves and leaf stalks rather than the root. The stalks come in many colors, on the Farm we have white, green, red, orange, yellow, and pink planted this year. The leaves can be used raw, but cooking Chard is more common. Chard should be stored in the fridge in a plastic bag or container and used in a few days after purchase. It is related to Spinach and therefore has similar, and just as excellent health benefits such as high levels of calcium, other nutrients and vitamins C, K, A, and E.
Tatsoi: This mustard green is similar to bok choy, but will a little more peppery bite. It’s leaves, stems, and flowers can be eaten cooked or raw. Our favorite use is in stir fry, but it can also be used as a spinach substitute in most recipes. It should be stored in a sealed container in the fridge for a few days until use. We have had success with chopping it up and freezing it for gradual use over the winter. Like many other leafy greens, tatsoi is high in vitamins A, C, and K as well as calcium, potassium, and iron.
Tokyo Bekana Cabbage: This Japanese version of the Chinese cabbage is lighter in weight and flavor. It is our first year growing it at FRF and we are looking forward to seeing if it lives up to the hype. Supposedly it is like lettuce in texture, but is sweeter in flavor even in the heat of summer. Tokyo Bekana can be used in anything bok choy or tatsoi or Napa Cabbage are used in, but will have a lighter texture and for that reason is often used raw in the place of lettuce in a salad. It should be stored in a bag or sealed container for up to a week.
Tomatoes: We grow over 40 varieties of paste, slicing, beefsteak, and cherry tomatoes. We start all plants from seed beginning in January. The first plants go into the hoop houses as soon as possible and then we do multiple plantings in the field to extend the tomato season as long as possible. Tomatoes should be stored at room temperature until they are to your taste in ripeness.
Turnips: Yet another member of the Brassica family, there are many varieties of Turnips, at FRF we mostly grow two: a variety of salad Turnips and a variety of storage Turnips. Salad Turnips are meant to be eaten raw, but can also be sauteed or roasted. They will last in a sealed container in the fridge (with leaves removed) for about a week. Storage Turnips are meant to last in the fridge (sans leaves) for a much longer time. Turnip greens are much more nutritionally beneficial than Turnips, but both are low calorie and high in vitamin C.
Zucchini: Every gardener seems to be giving watermelon sized zucchini away at some point in the season, and yet, they will still plant it next year. Zucchini can be eaten raw, baked, sauteed, fried, grilled, mixed into cake batter, or in just about any other way you can think of. Store zucchini at room temperature for up to a week, for longer storage it can be frozen or pickled. Zucchini are low calorie and an good source of vitamins A and C.