What is that Vegetable?
Unsure of one of those vegetables, herbs, or fruits in your box?
Vegetables come in all shapes and sizes, and when numerous varieties of each vegetable are grown, one can easily become confused by what exactly is in the share box. Below, we've included photos and information on some of the odder and less familiar vegetables, herbs, and fruits that we grow. Some of these little known crops have become fashionable because of their use by chefs, while others are more common in regional cuisines. Still others are older staples that, while delicious, have begun to disappear from our kitchens due to theindustrialization of our food system. The following list is divided into Vegetables, Herbs/Greens, and Fruits, and it will undoubtedly be updated as the season progresses. Do you know all of these crops?
Celeriac or Celery Root
If you've tasted this vegetable, you know that it has to be related to celery. As a root vegetable, celeriac will last several months in the refrigerator, which makes it a great storage crop. Keep it between 32 and 41 F and don't allow it to dry out. When ready to use, trim off the outer surface, dice or grate and use like stalk celery in soups, stews, and stir-fries. It's even delicious raw! Celeriac tends to be a bit milder than celery, so even if you're not a big celery lover, you just might like celeriac.
Collards or Collard Greens
If you grew up in the American South, you've probably eaten collards at least once, as they are considered a staple in that region. Collard greens are closely related to broccoli, cabbage, and brussels sprouts, so they have a slight bitter flavor. Similar to these kinds of greens, collards are usually cut into ribbons, boiled or steamed until soft, usually in a small amount of water, and seasoned with animal fat, salt, and pepper. Along with black-eyed peas and cornbread, collards are commonly eaten on New Year's Eve to ensure wealth in the coming year. They contain loads of vitamins and minerals, and, like other close relatives, are known to produce potent anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-cancer activity. Collards store best in cold refrigeration (just above 32F) and high humidity, and will last at least 10 days under these conditions.
Fennel Bulb, Florence Fennel, or Finocchio
Bub fennel is related to carrots, dill, and celery. It tastes mildly like anise or licorice, but don't let that deter you if you're not a fan. When cooked, grilled, or roasted, the flavors of fennel bulb soften and mellow, blending well with the other ingredients. Try it, you'll be surprised how much you like it. It is used widely in France, Greece, and Italy, and is one of the three main ingredients in absynthe. Bulb fennel is especially tasty in risotto and is delicious carmelized. It can also be eaten raw in salads.
Pak Choi, Bok Choi, or Peking Cabbage
Bok Choi originally comes from China and is a member of the Brassica family of broccoli, cabbage, kale, and brussels sprouts. It's flavor is much like cabbage, but it is considered to have higher amounts of vitamins and minerals, particularly Vitamin C and folate, and it is high in beta-carotene. Like cabbage, Pak Choi can be eaten raw in salads, or cooked in soups and stir-fries. It doesn't have as long of a storage life as head cabbage, so use pak choi quickly, within about 3 days to access its best flavor. Store it in a loosely closed plastic bag in the refrigerator.
Believe it or not, the rutabaga is, reportedly, a cross between wild cabbage and turnips. This root vegetable derives mainly from colder climates in Scandinavia and Russia, and was likely introduced into the US early in the 1800s. It was identified growing as a crop in Illinois by 1817. Rutabagas can be eaten raw or cooked, but the most common recipe is to combine it with potatoes at a percentage of about 25-50% to make mashed potatoes, often with the addition of carrots or onions. Other common recipes include roasting chunks of rutabaga with other root vegetables, and adding rutabaga to soups, stews, and casseroles. Grated or julienned, rutabaga can also be added to salads. Be sure to peel away the outer tough skin.
These roots are high in beta-carotenes, Vitamin C, Thiamin, B6, Calcium, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Manganese, and Potassium, and they are a great source of fiber.
Rutabagas are also a great storage vegetable, capable of lasting a month or more in household refrigerators and up to four months in commercial coolers set just above 32F.
(photo: beet on left, turnip on right)
The turnip is a member of the Brassica family, more commonly known as the mustard family. This family also includes broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, pac choi, rutabaga, and brussels sprouts. They were prized and consumed by the Greeks and Romans, but they have a longer history in the Near East, where they've reportedly been in use for nearly 4000 years.
The turnip root is most commonly boiled, roasted, or mashed with potatoes, but they can also be juiced or pickled. The greens are usually boiled and eaten like mustard greens.
The turnip root is high in Vitamin C, while the greens are high in Vitamin A, folate, Vitamins C and K, and calcium. Like other members of the mustard family, turnips contain more than 12 cancer and ill-health fighting compounds, including Crambene, Indole-3-carbinol, and Sulforaphane.
awaiting photographs....of chervil, arugula
Red currants belong to the Gooseberry family and are native to parts of western Europe. The flavor is both sweet and tart, which makes the currant great both for eating raw and for making into jellies or jams. These little berries are high in vitamins B1, C, and iron.