Dear City Dweller: Here’s Why You Should Grow Your Own Medicine Cabinet. Sincerely, An Herbalist and Farmer

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This article is an updated/revised version of a guest blog post originally published in now-defunct DIY urban gardening website, City Plantz, in February of 2018. Enjoy!

I didn’t stumble upon the health properties of plants—and growing them yourself— in the most obvious way you would think.

At first, my interest in growing plants was all about food: our crumbling food system, our need for more farmers and food growers, and—ultimately—our need to protect our food, health, nutrition, and autonomy by growing food ourselves to ensure that it’s healthy (yes, even in the city). All of this started in college in rural Minnesota, and led me down the path of organic agriculture that I still tread today: in my daily life, in my career, and everything I do on my farm of three years now, Jupiter Ridge LLC. It’s all culminated into a both rigorous and healing lifestyle.

It definitely isn’t news these days that the healthiest food comes in the form of fresh homegrown fruits and vegetables—and specifically vegetables you can grow yourself.

Dill Bouquet | Jupiter Ridge Farm

But as it turns out, there’s a lot more to ensuring your health from the plant world than just growing your own food, especially when growing herbs comes into the picture.

This article is going to be a combination of informative and updating, so let me get the updates out of the way.

For those who have followed my writings and this blog (new and old), you can probably see I haven’t written much over the years about anything, let alone herbalism (To you newcomers: welcome).

This mostly coincides with getting my farm Jupiter Ridge up and running here in Driftless Iowa (Northeast Iowa), an endeavor that has demanded an immense amount of time, money, labor, blood, sweat, tears, sacrifice, pain, healing, beauty, and transformation – so naturally, herbalist projects and everything else have been placed on the back burner.

On that note, too, I felt like I needed a separation period from the world of herbalism: its major figures, celebrities, and influencers; the culture around it and the narrow definitions of what herbalism is in these circles; the increasing patriarchal/cultural appropriation problems in herbalist scenes; and even other herbalists in general.

I won’t get into it too much (and in fact I’ve been mostly silent on the subject), but I stepped into the (for lack of a better word) “cult” following of herbalism and its little extended network in America in 2012, expecting to find “my” people only to find a network that had very little to do with healing and helping others. Instead I found a lot of ego, power, competition, and people claiming they could heal others when they seemed to be in desperate need of healing themselves.

The lesson I learned from this: I think healers in general, not just herbalists, are meant to walk solitary paths to do their work. Identity and purpose get lost in these echo chambers.

So I closed the door on herbalism and instead got my hands dirty with farming, and growing nutritious, diverse vegetables, mushrooms, and herbs for people for the past few years. A different sort of herbalism and work as an herbalist, all the while badly wishing I could redefine these words (herbalism, herbalist) that I feel sort of stuck with, but love the possibilities of what they could mean nonetheless, so I’ll continue using them.

Just some of the culinary herbs we grow at Jupiter Ridge Farm – basil, thyme, oregano, sage, Thai basil. | Photo: Will Lorentzen

Now that the farm is up, running, and established (selling healthy, sustainably grown, and nutritious vegetables, mushrooms, and culinary herbs to hundreds of people in the Dubuque area every Saturday – plus delivering diverse CSA shares with these same contents every Tuesday to members in Cedar Rapids and to a dozen eastern and northeastern Iowa restaurants, too!), life has been doing that funny thing of poking and prodding at me to get me back in touch with my roots and the true, foundational reasons I decided to do this whole thing in the first place.

Owing to a combination of both circumstance and some intention, what we are making off of the land and what we grow for eastern and northeastern Iowa is steadily representing a larger and larger (and more reliable) portion of our income, as other sources of income/side hustles loom less large.

Upon reading this article again, too, I’ve taken it upon myself that the best I can do is redefine what it means to be an herbalist with my current work – and this article puts it real nicely.

So as for the updates: I’m still an herbalist. I still write. I still use plants to help people as a farmer. I may come back around to using those wilder and more esoteric plants (like echinacea, goldenrod, or sumac) again as part of my daily work (and it does seem like life is pushing me in that direction again – and this may spring up in the form of truly awesome, effective, and unique herbal products!), but we shall see.

This article marks the beginning of the confluence of farming and herbalism in my life. The future looks interesting.

Don’t Just Grow Your Own Food: Grow Your Own Medicine

Homegrown foods have a higher likelihood of being more nutritious than any other type of food in the long run (I wrote a piece about this for Rodale’s Organic Life, which has since shut down. If you’d like to read the article I’d be happy to send you a copy, which outlines the science of why this is true, too). These vegetables and plants are at the very foundation of our health; when you think about it, they really are our best source of preventive medicine, in a way.

I learned all about this over a decade ago, which spurred me to become a farmer and establish a farm. Then I learned about growing herbs—for both culinary use and for healing—in addition to vegetables, and I felt like I blew a whole new story wide open.

Amid my post-college travels learning how to farm, I made the strange and unlikely jump: from farmer to herbalist. Today, I’ve managed to fashion myself into both.

Even now, I’m experiencing a renaissance of realization and coming back full-circle to my herbalist roots after throwing my all into the farming path head-on for the past three years. The most important realization of all: that by growing healthy vegetables, culinary herbs, and even medicinal mushrooms (like shiitake and lion’s mane), I haven’t strayed all that far from being an herbalist at all. Instead, I’m seeing the multitude of connections that can take place in the world of plant-based health in a whole new light.

Harvested Homegrown Ginger | Jupiter Ridge Farm

The ability to grow your own plants for both healthy food and medicine—or both food and medicine in one, if you really think about it—is empowering.

It saves money, doctor’s visits, and could even shape the way we view healthcare in the future. I’ve used certain herbs to successfully combat strep throat without any help from mainstream antibiotics. I’ve suggested herbs to others that have eliminated their lifelong acne issues, and I even use herbs today to holistically support my anxiety disorder and PTSD. Sure, these are anecdotal. But they’ve literally worked and I see them work even now on an almost daily basis (and for you more science-herbalist nerds, there’s a very scientific explanation for how all of these herbs work for these separate issues).

But most importantly: just because you live in a house or small apartment with very little money doesn’t mean this is something out of reach to you.

The truth is: it is in reach, more than you know.

If you can grow food in your domicile, you can certainly grow herbs. Together, these form the most preventive health medicine cabinet you could possibly have at your disposal.

Seeing the Connection: Plants as Healers, Whether Vegetables or Herbs

Why should you grow your own medicinal or culinary—or both medicinal and culinary—herbs in the first place?

Isn’t this something reserved for New Age hippies, lifestyle bloggers, witchy mamas, or your grandma?

My answer is best put as a story. I was in Ecuador during my organic agricultural internship when I was first struck by the world of herbalism.

I had an injured and infected foot. It was hard for me to walk.

 I was also in a foreign tropical country where a non-native’s susceptibility to infections was astronomically dangerous. To continue growing the healthy, nutritious food I was so hell-bent on learning about, I was told by locals I must rely on a completely different kind of plant.

They pointed just a few steps away from where I helped cultivate rows of healthy vegetables like kale to a tall, uncultivated plant with broad leaves—a plant called matico.

Kale Row | Iowa Herbalist
Rows of kale at Jupiter Ridge Farm.

Vegetables and Medicinal Herbs: Different Plants, Similar Purposes

Two very different plants, kale and matico.

But they both have a couple things in common: they can strengthen health and, as I would learn soon, matico could save your life (and kale too, though how it might do that for you deserves its very own article in and of itself).

I was instructed to use a medicinal preparation of matico’s leaves by the locals to fight this infection and still be able to walk between planted rows to get work done and continue my education—maybe even to keep my foot altogether..

The nearest hospital wasn’t for miles. There was no local pharmacy, no local clinic, no antibiotics: only plants and the native knowledge of the locals at my disposal.

Years later, I still have my foot—and all because of (well, mostly because of) a plant (a trip to the Ecuadorian beaches swimming and soaking in the salty ocean helped, too). I also found out later, to my shock, that matico isn’t as exotic as I thought. In fact, it’s very closely related to both black pepper (a culinary seasoning I wrote about in depth for Primal Herb here) and kava kava (a widely popular sedative herb from the Pacific), domesticated cultivated relatives that are—you guessed it—grown and produced by farmers.

Garlic Field | Iowa Herbalist
A farmer (My husband and partner, Will) overlooking a garlic field. Garlic is a vegetable, a flavorful spice, and a highly medicinal herb all in one.

It was in making these types of connections between nutritious and medicinal plants—and plants of all kinds, for that matter—that I decided to be an herbalist, and not just a farmer. I also realized how deeply interlinked these roles could be.

Growing Medicinal Herbs: Why Do It? Is it Really Worth it?

So, why grow medicinal plants, you might again ask?

Of course, my story above is extreme. If you think you might lose a foot, definitely wise up and go to a hospital if you can—take advantage of the fact that you’re not in the middle of a South American rainforest. And yet, living in the city— relying only on your apartment or home— can sure feel like surviving in a jungle these days.

So here’s my short answer: you should grow medicinal plants to be smart, self-sufficient, and frugal. But also because it’s a no-brainer.

I’ll risk sounding blunt here: especially in an urban setting and with little money, you’d be dumb not to. Ultimately, growing plants saves you money and possibly your health in the long run. Sure, you can also purchase medicinal in supplement form. But these extracts and capsules can be costly also—and, in some cases, less reliable.

If you’re not worried about losing a foot perse, there’s a lot more beyond foot-saving that herbs do. Some examples are:

  • Improving digestion
  • Soothing sunburns
  • Alleviating stress (or even anxiety and depression)
  • Protecting infected cuts
  • Pain relief

A lot of them make your food taste better as a bonus, too (here’s looking at you, culinary herbs, of which the majority of you are also secretly medicinal).

By the way, if you’re already growing vegetables or even fruits in your house or apartment: congratulations!

You’ve already got your own preventive medicine cabinet. Growing herbs will just expand it even more. In the process, you might save yourself money on doctor’s visits and depending on those costly over-the-counter drugs.

You may also pick up an enjoyable hobby in the meantime that beautifies your home or apartment in the process, too. So why wouldn’t it hurt?

Echinacea at Jupiter Ridge | Iowa Herbalist
Echinacea on Jupiter Ridge.

Culinary and Medicinal Herbs: What Can I Grow? What’s Possible?

 Of course, the theory of anything becomes a lot more complicated when put into practice. Newcomers to growing herbs (or even growing in general) might ask: is growing medicinal and culinary herbs indoors difficult?

In truth, some herbs with healing potential are not any different—or more difficult— to grow than anything else indoors.

If you’re wanting to break new ground and give growing medicinal herbs a try, here are the best to get your feet wet with (and your hands dirty with) for starters.

  • Aloe Vera. May need more sun than most others on this list, but otherwise requires very little water or much else. Leaves from aloe plants can be removed and the gel used for cuts, burns, sunburns, rashes, and wounds. The juice can be consumed for digestive issues and even certain disorders (I wrote for Healthline about aloe vera juice for IBS here).

  • Ginger. Ginger root is incredibly easy to grow indoors from a living rhizome. It also doesn’t need a lot of light as a canopy plant. It’s great for cramps, stomachaches, nausea, and boosting the immune system when dealing with colds. It also tastes great (Oh yeah – I also wrote about ginger for Healthline here and how it’s great for sore throats).

  • Lemon Balm. Great for culinary and medicinal uses. It also doesn’t need a lot of sunlight or water. Harvest sprigs to flavor meals that call for mint or lemon verbena. Or, make a tea from it for stomachaches or bouts of stress, anxiety, or depression.

  • Mint. Spearmint and peppermint are easy to grow indoors with low light in containers. They’re great for bellyaches and can also calm nerves a bit. Mint’s flavors are a must-have for teas and various dishes. A fresh leaf on a cut reduces risk of infection, and the essential oil is amazing pain relief (I use it for my TMJ). (Article on how to grow this herb specifically is coming up soon).

  • Parsley. Take a bite or a sprig of this culinary herb to freshen breath or when you have a stomachache. It is also known to help with seasonal allergies. It’s easy to grow in low light and doesn’t ask much of you and is also a delicious seasoning.

  • Thyme. This squat little mint-like plant doesn’t demand much space, or even too much light or water for that matter. It makes for an adorable ornament on a kitchen window. Thyme is also an excellent herb for immunity and the symptoms of colds and flu.
Aloe Vera | Adrian White, Iowa Herbalist
Aloe Vera.

Keep in mind that the cultivation and use of herbs for health shouldn’t replace common-sense mainstream health care or prescription medications. Talk to your doctor about using herbs, or if using herbs for health would be right for you.

If you’re truly intrigued by growing herbs, don’t feel like you need to stop at this list.

There’s plenty of others you can grow indoors, and which may also be enjoyably tackled by the more advanced or expert indoor grower.

Happy growing—and, ultimately happy, affordable health.

Jupiter Ridge 2019 CSA | Week 19 (Final Week!)

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Hey CSA People!

It’s our last week of CSA already. Wow!

As promised (and as part of your subscription share), your last delivery will be a big DOUBLE share full of all the final offerings we can get you as our season comes to a close. (To be more specific: we will give you DOUBLE of all items we have, save shiitake mushrooms and a few specialty items we will be including!)

This will include:

  • Dried Shiitake Mushrooms
  • Dried Tomatoes
  • Dried Basil
  • Tatsoi Asian Greens New!
  • Double Share Potatoes (Kennebec and Fingerling Potatoes)
  • Double Share Mixed Squash (Two Acorns, One Butternut)
  • Double Share Winter Radish Medley (Purple & White Daikons, Watermelon Radishes)
  • Double Share Parnips
  • Double Share Baby Carrots
  • Double Share Rutabagas
  • Double Share Garlic
  • Double Share Yellow Storage Onions
  • Double Share Shallots

We hope all these foods arrive at the perfect time for your Thanksgiving cooking plans!

Onions | Jupiter Ridge Farm

Though we didn’t have greens for you last week (unless you count parsley as a green!), we’re ensuring that you have some greenery in your very last share to enjoy before true winter sets in (or, when true winter comes back, depending on how you look at it).

This week features tatsoi, an Asian green that is delicious cooked (much like kale) but can also be used raw in salads, much like spinach but with a sharper, cleaner flavor. It’s flavors combine well with ginger, daikon radishes, sesame, soy, and other Asian seasonings. We hope you enjoy exploring with it and working with it!

We also have some dried goods for you to enjoy thanks to our big industrial digital dehydrator!

Note: this last double Thanksgiving share will come in a food-grade wax produce box. This will be our last delivery to the Cedar Rapids area, so leaving your cooler out for us to pick it up one last time will save us a trip next week after the holidays!

Thank you – we super appreciate it!

Butternut Squash | Jupiter Ridge Farm

Stay tuned for more details about our Cedar Rapids CSA 2020 sign up for next year! We’ll be putting out a blog post with all the info you’ll need to sign up in advance (if you like) and keep the good stuff going for next year.

And on that note: for next year, we’re open to any feedback, requests, and comments on how to better improve our CSA!

We would especially be curious for would-be (and current) members next year if there is any interest or desire for a centralized CSA pickup in Cedar Rapids, if that would work better for some. (Even if you are just stumbling on this article and would like to sign-up for a centralized CSA pickup next year rather than a CSA doorstep delivery, get in touch and we can discuss details for next year!)

Thank you again so much for participating in our CSA. It’s been a huge pleasure growing local, organic, and healthy, whole food for our eastern and Driftless Iowa community! Your subscription, participation, and support is a huge help to us and we hope to continue going strong for years and years to come.

We love being your farmers. Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Holidays!

Warm Regards,
Adrian & Will | Jupiter Ridge Farm

Sunset on the Farm | Jupiter Ridge Farm

Jupiter Ridge 2019 CSA | Week 18

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Greetings CSA Members! Hope you are all doing a good job staying warm!

We’ll get right to it. Here’s what you can expect in your CSA delivery this week:

  • Dried Shiitake Mushrooms New!
  • Fingerling Potatoes
  • Bonbon Buttercup Squash New!
  • White Daikon Radishes New!
  • Parsnips
  • Baby Orange Carrots
  • Rutabagas
  • Garlic
  • Parsley
  • Yellow Storage Onion
  • Red Onions
  • Dried Basil New!

Again, a bit of a wintry lineup with plenty of roasty, toasty, tasty root vegetables!

And, since we have them on hand, we couldn’t resist getting our members one last taste of shiitakes before the end of the CSA season (and to your benefit: since they’re dehydrated, you can hang onto them for as long as you like, even for a special occasion later in winter!)

Dried Shiitakes | Jupiter Ridge Farm

We’re also excited to share a delicious new squash variety with you this week: a bonbon buttercup squash. This type has very smooth, fine-grained yellow flesh, quite a bit like a paler butternut, and is quite sweet. We hope you enjoy it.

And we’ll also be getting you a little taste of the summer we’ve preserved over the past couple months: dried basil! Make it last over the winter on pastas, on pizzas, or anything else you may want to try it with over the cold months!

And we have another new item for you…

White Daikon Radishes | Explanation and Tips

You’ve gotten purple daikons in your CSA so far this year…but you have yet to experience our white (or icicle type) daikon radishes!

White Daikon Radish | Jupiter Ridge Farm

Not all of them are nearly as large as the one pictured, but this can give you a good idea of how large these root vegetables can get.

So, how do you use them? You can use them a lot like all the other winter radishes and similar root vegetables you’ve received in past shares. These have a slightly lighter and crunchier texture than purple daikons, and for that reason, these guys are a great addition to short-term frying preparations: like Asian stir fries for example, a a popular dish that you’ll find these daikons in.

Again, like our other winter radish crops, slicing them raw for salads adds a bit of interesting spice, while roasting them up makes them as mild and tame as a turnip. As you can probably tell, the name “icicle” for these types of radishes refers to their very long and pointed shape. When eaten raw, their flavor is anything but cold or cool…these daikons can be spicy!

Over the years working at various organic farms around the country and growing these, they seem to be a popular addition to homemade juices (you know, of the ilk for “juice fasts” and that require a juicer). They’re crispy flesh and spiciness is a great addition to fruit and vegetable blends; some have claimed daikon radishes are great for the liver, though I don’t have any knowledge or sources to personally back that up. (They’re probably mildly detoxifying to some extent, at least, like a lot of veggies…)

Are you familiar with white daikons and have recipes to share? We’d love to hear them!

Feel free to email us your own recipes and ideas – we’ll happily credit you and share them. | jupiterridgefarm@gmail.com

Dehydrated Shiitakes | Jupiter Ridge Farm

That about wraps it up for the second to last week of CSA, leading up to Thanksgiving! It seems like our CSA season really has gone by fast.

It’s our pleasure to bring you these goodies leading up to the holiday. And don’t forget: on the very last CSA delivery next weekend, we’ll be delivering you a DOUBLE share, straight to your doorstep, and with tons of good stuff!

Until next time!

Warmest Regards,
Adrian & Will | Jupiter Ridge Farm

Jupiter Ridge 2019 CSA | Week 17

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Hi CSA Members!

Finishing up a late night prepping all your food for your CSA deliveries (as well as restaurant deliveries) to Cedar Rapids tomorrow. For this very reason, we’ll be keeping this newsletter a bit short (we’re tired!) but we’re happy to share this week’s upcoming CSA share list with you so you can know what to look forward to ahead of time…and hear a few updates on the farm, too.

What to expect this week:

  • Kale Mix (Small Leaf)
  • Spinach Bunch
  • Purple Potatoes
  • Acorn Squash
  • Garlic
  • Yellow Storage Onions
  • Parsnips
  • Orange Carrots
  • Winter Radish Medley
  • Rutabagas New!
Winter Radishes | Jupiter Ridge Farm

This lineup does indeed look like a wintery bunch, doesn’t it? Especially with the snow that’s been blanketing the ground as of late (though it’s come so early!) our CSA delivery this week is particularly chock-full of the more “classic” fall/winter root crops than ever before: parsnips, potatoes, squash, storage radishes, and our newest veggie for you to enjoy: rutabagas!

We hope you enjoy them all during this cold weather – and we highly recommend (most of all!) that you roast up a nice medley of these winter roots to warm you up on these cold nights – like the colorful one pictured below. It’s one of our autumn favorites!

Roasted Root Medley | Jupiter Ridge Farm
Sliced butternut squash, purple daikon radishes, chioggia beets, scarlet turnips, and watermelon radishes ready to go into the oven for roasting.

Or do you have your own recipes or ideas in mind? We’d love to hear them – and even post them here if you like!

We’ll see you tomorrow – and very much look forward to delivering to our awesome members for these last few weeks before Thanksgiving!

Warmest Regards,
Adrian & Will | Jupiter Ridge Farm

Jupiter Ridge 2019 CSA | Week 16

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Hello CSA Members!

This recent cold and snow (and even the colder temps in this week’s forecast) have got us thinking that winter’s here a little early! Wouldn’t you agree?

Though fall always feels like it goes by too quickly, we look forward to the rest and recuperation that the snowy winter affords us…even when it comes a little sooner than we think.

Here’s to a few more warmer days before winter hits us in full swing, and to lots more delicious vegetables to enjoy for the last few weeks of CSA. Cold or not, we’ve still got plenty in store for you….

Here’s what to expect this week:

  • Parsnips New!
  • Purple Daikon Radishes
  • Mushrooms (Shiitakes, Oysters, or Mix of Both – May Included Dehydrated Shiitakes)
  • Kale
  • Carrots
  • Carnival Squash
  • Green Peppers
  • Parsley
  • Red Onion
  • Sweet Onion
  • Garlic
About New CSA Item This Week: Parsnips!

We’re sure you’re probably at least a little familiar with parsnips, so we won’t spend too much time talking about them…but they’re sure worth touching on at least just a little bit.

Sliced Parsnips | Jupiter Ridge Farm

Clearly reminiscent relatives of carrots at first glance, you’ll have the opportunity to compare and contrast carrots with parsnips, since you’ll be getting both in your share.

Carrots are crisper, crunchier, and sweeter (especially the ones we’re sending out to CSA this time of year!). That’s not to say that parsnips aren’t also sweet, they’re just heartier in texture and more “aromatic” in taste.

Carrots can be an enjoyable snack raw, parsnips not so much (though to each their own, of course – I don’t mind munching in a raw parsnip, it’s pretty good). But still, parsnips love to be cooked. They’re right at home in most fall or winter soups or stews that would call for carrots, and could even replace carrots in most of these (though they would go great together in these dishes, too).

In my opinion (and from our collective experience, both Will and I, with cooking parsnips over the years), parsnips don’t just love being cooked – they also love seasonings and spice. If you taste a parsnip for that matter, you’ll notice how they have a low-key aromatic flavor that’s almost built right into them.

Parsnips | Jupiter Ridge Farm
This year’s parsnip harvest.

For this reason, spice them up! Especially for this time of year, parsnips go extremely well with classic fall seasonings. According to the Flavor Bible by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg, parsnips go great with chives, cream, garlic, ginger, maple syrup, nutmeg, parsley, sage, thyme, and many other ingredients. One of our farmer friends once prepared a pureed parsnip soup that featured cardamom – it was absolutely delicious, and I recommend using the spice with parsnip all the time.

Other great pairings with parsnips: butter, other root vegetables (especially turnips!), and apples. Yum…just, yum.

So, if you have any further questions about parsnips and what you can do with them, please let us know. Likewise, don’t be shy to share your recipes with us! | jupiterridgefarm@gmail.com

We hope you enjoy what this week’s delivery brings, parsnips and all.

Yours,
Adrian & Will | Jupiter Ridge Farm

Jupiter Ridge CSA 2019 | Week 15

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Hi there CSA folks!

We can’t believe week 15 is already here. Though the cold is definitely shutting down and slowing production at the farm, we still remain pretty busy pulling all the last of our produce out from the field long before the first hard freeze appears on the forecast – and there’s still quite a bit out there! 

Just today, we pulled in several cases of kale and DELICIOUSLY sweet carrots, plus daikon radishes, parsnips (!), and more that you’ll be enjoying at some point in these coming weeks before CSA ends. By the end of next week, the fields should be empty – but our walk-in cooler will be stocked quite full for the winter with plenty of variety to deliver to you up until Thanksgiving!

This week for you, we’ll have:

  • Oyster Mushrooms New!
  • Black Spanish Radishes New!
  • Carrot Bunch
  • Kale
  • Baby Beets
  • Kennebec (White) Potatoes
  • Sweet or Green Peppers
  • New England Pie Pumpkin New!
  • Oregano Bunch
  • Garlic
  • Shallots

We like to keep every share exciting and fresh with some new items each week, and we have a good handful of brand-new veggies for you. Most exciting of all: you’ll be getting oyster mushrooms this week! They’re both beautiful and delicious, needing only light heat and a short time cooking, with flavor similar to oyster and chicken combined. Very tasty…

Oyster Mushrooms | Jupiter Ridge Farm
Oyster Mushrooms.

With the recent cold temperature dips, our oyster production has been going crazy. So we hope you enjoy these!

Also new in your share are some veggies we’ve had harvested and stored for a while due to the cold, and which are finally available in rotation: namely, Black Spanish radishes and pie pumpkin!

In the true spirit of autumn and Halloween this week (and with Thanksgiving not too far away), we thought pie pumpkin would be perfect. Yes, it looks like a pumpkin you could carve into a jack-o-lantern – but it’s actually a variety that’s better for eating (and making into pumpkin pies especially) rather than carving!

And, last but not least, no– they’re not beets. They’re black Spanish radishes! We’ll tell you a bit more about them below…

Black Spanish Radishes | Explanation and Wellness Info

Just like the watermelon radishes and purple daikon radishes you’ve received in CSA shares prior, black Spanish radishes are also a type of “winter radish.”

Black Spanish Radishes | Jupiter Ridge Farm
Black Spanish radishes pictured with watermelon radishes below.

This means that, unlike spring radishes, you can store them for a long period of time without perishing under the right conditions – in a dark, cool place, preferably your refrigerator (or a root cellar if you have one). You can even keep a few throughout the entire winter if you like, not unlike a turnip, rutabaga, beet, or potato.

Not sure how to use them? We recommend using them much like watermelon radishes (discussed here in last week’s CSA newsletter) or like purple daikons (from CSA week 12 here). To summarize quickly, they can be sliced and eaten raw (on salads, etc.) or roasted much like a turnip or rutabaga. (Try pickling them – they’re incredibly delicious that way, too!)

What stands out most about Black Spanish Radishes, though? Their very unique health benefits. Studies show this root vegetable has heavy duty detoxification capabilities (it can even remove heavy metals!), it has tons of antioxidants and protects the liver, and may even greatly reduce cancer risk, boost immunity, help you fight the common cold, and lots more (some basic benefits are outlined here at CureJoy).

A warning: when eaten raw, it is quite spicy! Not as spicy as a daikon radish, however – but again, roasting and cooking it will turn it into a mild and tame veggie with similar taste to a turnip.

For those who don’t mind spicy foods though (and also for those of you who are interested in home herbal remedies), my herbalist recommendation? Try using it in a homemade Fire Cider recipe. (For reference, here’s a really good one from the original maker herself.) 

Garlic
Garlic is an important ingredient in Fire Cider.

This concoction is a vinegar-filled (and sometimes fermented) combination of horseradish, garlic, hot peppers (usually cayenne), other cold-fighting herbs, sometimes ginger, and lots more, all geared towards keeping colds, flu, symptoms, and bugs at bay when taken a tablespoon at a time. Black Spanish radish was apparently a classic cold-fighting remedy back in the day, and I think its spicy, pungent flavors could be the perfect compliment to this creation (especially as a replacement for or compliment to horseradish).

Need more ideas for eating Black Spanish Radishes (or anything else, for that matter)? Want more health info? Have your own recipes to share?

Email Us! | jupiterridgefarm@gmail.com