When you first get started with your CSA, one of the things that might trip you up is not knowing how to pack up the veggies for the way home. You get to the drop site and see a lot of produce in the box, but aren't sure how to transfer it. It's a good idea to take everything out of the box and then load it into your reusable bags, starting with the heaviest items and ending with the most delicate.
It's smart to go straight home and not run errands after pick up. Leaving your veggies in a hot car will make them spoil faster.
- Use the tables available at your drop site for easier unpacking.
- Think about how we pack your CSA box (because it's exactly how you should pack your bags to go home). We put the heaviest, hardest to damage stuff on the bottom, followed by light-weight bagged goodies and finally the most delicate things on top (herbs, greens, tomatoes, etc).
Store Your Produce Properly
We talk a lot about storage throughout the course of the CSA. It will be the first section of every newsletter. You'll see it in the storage guide we give you before the season begins. We will mention it again and again in our weekly "HHF Weekly CSA" e-mails.
There's a reason for this. Proper storage of vegetables is essential. If you store things properly, they last longer, and you don't have to rush to use them. Many vegetables can last 1-3 weeks based on the quality of storage. And that means less food waste.
- Cut the edible greens from things like carrots, beets, kohlrabi, and radishes. You will likely want to save these edible greens but when you store them together the greens will drain moisture form the roots. Remove the greens and store separately from the roots.
- Bag it up! Storing vegetables loose in the fridge is easy and uses less plastic, but isn't actually great for long-term storage. You should store most of your veggies (especially your greens!) in plastic bags in the fridge after you get home. Wash the bags and re-use them. We recommend you buy Debbie Meyer Green bags for this.
- Wash only what you plan to use immediately. Everything coming from our farm will be washed and well-cleaned. Washing it before use will only add unnecessary moisture that will cause produce to lose crispness and get soggy faster. Over time, most CSA members discover that if you just wash the amount of vegetables you are planning to use for a meal, they will stay fresh a lot longer.
- Remove rubberbands or twistie ties for better circulation.
- Read your newsletter and use it to set priorities. Our CSA newsletter will always tell you everything you need to know about where to store things (fridge versus pantry versus basement) as well as whether it wants to be stored in a bag (or not), and how long you can expect it to last. It's a good idea to take some time to read through the newsletter each week and mentally (or literally) sort all of the veggies based on what will expire fastest. This way you'll know what you should prioritize cooking first and what can wait.
- Store fruits and vegtables properly. We won't be giving you much fruit, but that doesn't mean you won't have a bunch in your fridge already. The ethylene gas given off by fruit can cause faster spoiling in your vegetables.
- Post a storage cheatsheet on the side of your fridge. Though our newsletter is a great resource, you won't always want to go look it up. Having a one-page veggie storage guide posted somewhere easy to see will save you time during busy weeks. You will have received this via an email at the start of the season. (Missed it? Download our Vegetable Preservation Guide from the website!)
Practice Micro-Prepping on CSA Day and Throughout the Week
When you get home with your weekly CSA box, unpack it immediately. Cut the tops off root veggies and store the greens & roots each in separate containers/bags. Pre-chop radishes, turnips, & carrots into ready-to grab and eat containers.
The amount of produce in your weekly share is enough to create 2-3 good sized meals or to supplement with other veggies & items to create multiple meals throughout the week.
Learn How to Identify Your Veggies
It can be hard to unpack things properly or store them correctly if you have no idea what the heck it is.
Every time we give you a less common vegetable or a different variety of a vegetable, we will reference it in our CSA e-mail newsletter, sometimes with a photo, so you can easily know what you are dealing with. Be sure to check this newsletter each week, so you can learn your veggies by season's end.