Essex Farm Note

Week 8, 2018

The trees were tapped, the temperatures rose, and we had our first run of sap. This is the one that sweetens the pan, and also lifts our hearts. It unlocks the earth that’s been sleeping under ice and snow. It reminds the horses what it’s like to pull a load, or hold one back, uphill and downhill, after a long winter break. It reminds us humans of muscles we haven’t used in a while, the small ones in the shoulders and the hands that carry full, sloshing buckets. This is the only time of year we are in the woods and not the fields, and it feels like a sport instead of work, running over the last spots of snow, over stiff mud, shouting through the trees, through the optimistic smell of spring.

            Our seeds arrived. Onions and leeks will hit the dirt in the germination chamber next week. Katie, Scott Mark and Chris made the final edits order together. The box contains more herb seeds than usual this year. I think that herbs are the shortest and surest path between mediocre and amazing results in the kitchen. But in the past, in the field, herbs have tended to slide down the priority list. They can easily become weedy or overgrown and woody, and therefore difficult to harvest and use. Not this year. We are planting more of them, both in type and in quantity, and will do our best to harvest and preserve them for winter use.

            This week, we traded extra beets from our farm for organic sweet potatoes from Juniper Hill Farm. We don’t grow sweet potatoes at Essex Farm, because in our climate, they require a layer of black plastic on top of the soil, to generate the heat that the vines love, and we don’t own the equipment to lay plastic. But we know how much members like them, so we’ll source them from our neighbors when we can.

            We’ve been hearing good feedback from members on all the new value added products, so I’m sending a special shout out today to Thanh Tran, who has been putting a lot of energy into developing and making these things, and to the Hubsters at the commercial kitchen at the Hub on the Hill, where the work of it gets done. We are now offering beef tallow, ghee and bone broths in the share. Tallow is rendered beef fat. It is good for frying, because it has a high smoke point (400 degrees), and, since it comes from grass fed cows, it also has a beneficial nutrient profile. (And frankly, you really haven’t lived until you’ve had french fries cooked in tallow – they’ll knock your socks off.) Tallow will be in the share next week. As for ghee, this is clarified butter that is cooked until the flavor is rich and nutty; it too has a high smoke point (425 degrees). It’s traditional in Indian cooking, and key in ayurvedic medicine, but in our house we’re using it for just about everything these days. Finally, Thanh has taken the art of bone broth to a new level for us, turning our grass-fed beef bones and pastured chickens into delicious, healing, collagen-rich broth, available as often as we can offer it. Last of all, a quick update on tortillas: We sent a load of our corn south to Tortilleria Nixtamal in Corona, NY, and it came back north on the truck as beautiful tortillas. This is a midstep between sending corn to a smaller and more expensive tortilleria in Vermont, and having our very own press. More about tortillas next week. And that’s the news from Essex Farm for this sweet 8th week of 2018. Find us at 518-963-4613, essexfarm@gmail.com, on Insta at essexfarmcsa, or on the farm, any day but Sunday.

–Kristin & Mark Kimball 

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