A fresh pair of hands

We hired a new worker to help Steve with his varied tasks, especially machinery repair and tractor work.  Larry comes to us with broad experience, having run his own small business.  He wasn’t scared off by our motley used equipment.  He and Steve share a sense of humor.  Larry bought a $6 set of feeler gauges for fine-tuning engines.  Steve took the tool in his hands and said, “These are nice but I don’t know how to use them if they aren’t rusty.”  They both cackled for a while.  It was a guys-who-fix-things joke.

Steve knows how to do everything.  He just can’t get it all done himself so he needs Larry’s help. Of course, all our employees fit that description.  We have a long list of projects lined up for Larry.
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Steve and Larry have this job under control.

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Steve says this tire is currently the worst of the 160 tires we have on our farm.

When Should You Refrigerate Tomatoes?

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Ripe tomatoes (top) and less-ripe tomatoes (bottom).

As usual, we have packed a mix of ripe and less-ripe tomatoes so you can stretch them through the week.  The top two tomatoes in the photo are ready to eat.  The bottom tomatoes need to ripen at room temperature for a few days.  Put on your counter or keep in a brown paper bag.

Tomatoes retain their best flavor and texture when stored at room temperature, no lower than 55oF.  However, you should refrigerate your tomatoes if they are fully ripe and you don’t expect to eat them right away.  It is better to sacrifice a little flavor and texture than lose your tomatoes to rot.  Also, fully-ripe tomatoes are less sensitive to chilling injury.

#2 Grade Red Bell Peppers
I write about pepper grading every year.  Returning members can say “yeah, yeah” and skip ahead.  New members, please read.
Many of the red bell peppers we send in the CSA boxes will be our #2 grade.  We do this to avoid waste and to deliver good value to our CSA members.  The #2 grade peppers are excellent eating quality, but are not quite pretty enough to sell to stores.  As a result, we place a much lower value on these peppers.  This allows us to provide generous amounts of red bell peppers over the course of the season, about three times the amount we could provide if we only gave #1 grade.  We feel this is a good exchange, even if it means you occasionally open a pepper and find that it needs trimming.  Here are the reasons that peppers are downgraded from #1 grade to #2 grade:
1.  They may have a minor blemish, or
2.  They may have minor insect damage, or
3.  They may be very ripe and beginning to wrinkle.  (These are especially sweet and delicious as they are fully ripe.  These cannot be sold to stores because their shelf life is short.  You will find that the texture is less crisp than a #1 grade pepper, but the flavor more than makes up for it.)
4.  They might be partially red and partially green.
5.  Others are just too small.

The eating quality is fine (or excellent) for all these #2 peppers.  We throw away all peppers that we suspect have rot inside (although one may occasionally slip through in either #1 or #2 grade.)  Today’s peppers are #2 grade.

Veggie List and Veggie Notes
muskmelon, 1
sweet corn, 6 ears
slicing tomatoes, 4 lb
green leaf lettuce
#2 grade bell peppers, 2, red or ivory
Walla Walla onions, 1 or 2
garlic, 1 head
oregano, 1 small bunch
You will get one or two of these items:  broccoli OR eggplant OR cucumbers/pickles OR cherry tomatoes

Next week’s box will probably contain melon, tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, sweet corn, onions, parsley and more.

Muskmelon – Don’t worry if you haven’t received a watermelon from us yet.  We send more muskmelons at the beginning of melon season while their flavor is at its best.
Garlic – The garlic is from John Hendrickson of Stone Circle Farm.  John supplies our garlic bulbs and scapes.
Broccoli – These heads are from a spring planting that drifted away from its usual schedule.  That can happen in hot weather.  It’s so unexpected to have broccoli in mid-August.  The uneven heads are typical of summer broccoli.  Steve says you might need to trim a bit, and to watch for green “worms” hidden in the heads.  Submerge the broccoli in water, shake, and they will float free.  I’m making it sound horrid but it’s actually nice broccoli.

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