April 25, 2018

How to Harvest the Gel from an Aloe Leaf

Aloe-Header

Did you know that you can add aloe leaves to your Farm Fresh To You delivery when you Customize Your Box? You've probably used aloe vera gel to heal your skin after too much time in the sun, but did you know that you can also consume it? Aloe is rich in vitamins A, C and E, which can help boost your immune system. But before you can enjoy it's many benefits, you're going to need to learn how to harvest it. See below for our 5 easy steps.

Take note, the size of the aloe leaf arriving in your box is rather large (approximately 1.5 pound). Your first reaction may be to panic –  but don't fret, just follow these 5 simple steps to harvest the gel from your aloe vera leaf.

STEP 1: REMOVE THE BASE OF THE LEAF

First, use a sharp knife to cut the base off the leaf off at a slight angle. You may also want to remove the pointed tip.

Cut-Off-Ends

STEP 2: DRAIN THE ALOIN FROM THE LEAF 

Let the aloe leaf stand upright in a container or in your sink for about 10 minutes to let the yellow sap drain out. This sap is called aloin, and while it is not toxic, it has a very bitter taste and may cause stomach discomfort, so it is best to dispose of it.


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STEP 3: REMOVE SERRATED EDGES

Use a sharp knife to cut the serrated edges of the leaf off.

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STEP 4: REMOVE THE TOP OUTER LAYER

Use a knife or vegetable peeler to remove the thin outer layer from the leaf, revealing the clear jelly-like substance inside. We found it was easiest to switch from a larger knife to a paring knife for this step, but any sharp knife will do. Note: Be careful! The aloe will be very slippery.

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At this point, you can use the same technique to cut off the bottom layer of the leaf, or you can use a spoon to gently scoop out the clear substance.

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STEP 5: HARVEST ALOE GEL & STORE

Remove any remaining green pieces of the leaf. If you notice any reddish-brown remnants of the aloin sap, you can cut it out of the gel or simply rinse it off.

Holding-Aloe


Cut the aloe gel into 1-inch cubes for easy storage and place them in an airtight container in the refrigerator. In many cases, you will likely want to puree the aloe gel in a blender for use in a face mask or to mix into your favorite juice or smoothie. Check out our blog post to learn more about our three favorite ways to use fresh aloe vera gel.

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HOW TO STORE

The leaf itself will stay fresh for weeks in the refrigerator. Once you have harvested and pureed the aloe, it is best consumed fresh, so you may want to cut off 1-inch pieces of the leaf and use as needed. If you are using the pureed aloe for cosmetic and topical use, you can store it in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 1 week. For longer storage, scoop the aloe gel into an ice cube tray and freeze for later use.

How To Add Aloe to Your Delivery:
CSA members - head on over to your online farm stand to customize your upcoming delivery. The market is open from noon on Thursday until 2 pm, 2 days before your scheduled delivery day.

Not part of our farm family? Find out if we deliver to your neighborhood.

April 20, 2018

8 Easy Earth Day Resolutions + Giveaway

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Who says New Year's is the only time for resolutions? Earth Day is every April 22nd and it’s the perfect occasion to adopt a new habit for the greater good of our planet. At Farm Fresh To You, we take our responsibility as stewards of the land seriously by using these sustainable farming practices, but we also have some great tips for conserving natural resources at home. Here are 8 easy ways that we can help save the Earth by saving water, saving energy and minimizing waste.

Give up Plastic Straws

On average, America alone uses 500 million straws every single day. Far too many of those straws end up on our beaches and in the ocean where they are harmful to marine life. Those that do get properly disposed of end up crowding our landfills where they take hundreds of years to break down. The next time you order a beverage simply say, “No straw, please!” If you prefer using straws, invest in a pack of reusable bamboo or stainless steel straws. You can stash a few in your desk at work or in the glove compartment of your car so that you’re always prepared on the go.

Reduce Food Waste

Did you know that an estimated 30-40% of food in the US gets thrown away? Plan out your meals for the week so you know exactly what you need. If you’re a Farm Fresh To You customer, take advantage of the ability to Customize Your Box and choose which items you want to receive. If you know what you’re getting, you’ll be able to plan how you’re going to use it. You can also reduce food waste by ensuring that you eat your leftovers and freezing anything that you’re not able to use in time. If you have extra fruit or leafy greens in your box, cut them up and distribute them into reusable containers to store in the freezer for a ready-to-blend smoothie pack.

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We realize that sometimes a little food waste is unavoidable, but don't just throw your food away in the trash! When produce we have on hand doesn’t meet our quality standards, we donate it to local zoos and farms that can feed it to the animals. With some internet research and a quick trip to your local home improvement store, you’ll find that starting your own compost bin is a fairly simple process. If having a compost bin isn’t realistic for you, a great alternative is to find out if your city offers a compost or “organics” bin that you can use for food waste disposal.


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Commit to Canvas

Many of us Californians are getting accustomed to the plastic bag ban that passed in 2016. However, you’ve likely still paid 10 cents for a bag more than a few times in the past year. We’ve all been there, but now’s the time to really commit to your canvas bag. Keep canvas or cloth bags in the trunk of your car so that you’re always ready whether it’s at the grocery store, farmer’s market, or even the mall. Hint hint - this adorable Nantes Carrot tote is available to purchase when you customize your Farm Fresh To You delivery!

Ditch the Paper Towels

This one might seem a little daunting to some people, but we’ve tested it out and it isn’t as hard as it may seem. Instead of grabbing for the paper towels, use cloth towels to dry your hands and keep old rags or sponges handy for cleanups and spills. You can even repurpose old worn out t-shirts by cutting them into smaller pieces and storing them in a bin under the sink for easy access.

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Start a Garden

It’s no secret that we love fresh fruit, veggies, and flowers, which is why we want to help you grow your own! Starting a home garden is not only visually appealing, it’s good for the environment too. By choosing to grow plants that are native to California, you are conserving water, preserving biodiversity, and creating a healthy habitat for birds, insects, and other small animals. Did you know that you can add seed packets in the springtime to your delivery when you customize your Farm Fresh To You delivery?

Not only will these changes make an environmental impact, but many of them can have a positive health and financial impact as well. We challenge you to take on one (or more!) of these simple lifestyle changes in honor of Earth Day.


EARTH DAY GIVEAWAY! 
(Giveaway now closed - thank you to those who participated!)

Congratulations to our 3 winners - Christi, Elizabeth & Kim.

"My goal is to plant more trees #FFTYEarthDayGiveaway @farmfreshtoyoulike" - Christi

"This year, in honor of Earth Day, my resolution is to take the metro to work @ least 3 times/week." - Elizabeth
 
"Today we plan on planting a new tree, cleaning up the garden and adding two new house plants inside 🌏🌳🌵" - Kim

April 11, 2018

What Should You Do With Your Crystallized Honey?

Honey-Texture-Comparison


Sometimes people feel uneasy when they discover their honey has crystallized. Let us reassure you, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the honey. We even suggest you try your crystallized honey as is! Crystallization is a natural phenomenon that preserves the flavor. Many people (us included) prefer the crystallized form because it is easier to spread on toast, biscuits and other morning goodies. Plus, you may find yourself loving that slightly grainy and crunchy texture too. However, if you are not a fan of this natural occurance, you can de-crystallize your honey back into its liquid form by following these easy steps we've provided below.

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What Does Crystallized Honey Look Like?

Some honey will crystallize uniformly, while others will only crystallize partially, forming two layers a crystallized bottom layer with liquid on top. The crystals themselves may vary as well, from fine crystals to larger, grittier ones. The faster the honey crystallizes, the finer the texture will be. Honey that has crystallized will have a slightly lighter/paler color then when in liquid form. Darker honey tends to retain a brownish appearance. No matter what it looks like though, it can add great flavor to your dish.

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Why Does Honey Crystallize?

Honey is a supersaturated mixture of two naturally occurring sugars, glucose and fructose. Honey doesn’t contain enough liquid to keep the sugar dissolved, so a natural chemical process causes some of the sugars to crystallize and separate from the mixture.

How-To-De-Crystallize-Pan

How Do I De-Crystallize Honey?

1) Heat a pan of water on low heat.*

2) Remove the pan and place your jar of honey inside. (Make sure the lid is off the jar before placing it in the water).

How-To-De-Crystallize-Before


3) Let the honey sit until it softens. Once it is in a liquid state again, put the lid back on and shake the jar.

4) Place the jar back in the warm water.
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5) Let the water and jar cool together. Once they both reach room temperature, your honey is ready.

*It is important to cool and heat up your honey slowly. Heating and cooling too quickly can speed up re-crystallization. Avoid using the microwave to warm your honey, as high temperatures can remove the vitamins and nutrients that honey naturally has.

Storage

Storage Tips

The best way to store your honey is at room temperature in a glass jar. Cold temperatures will increase the rate of crystallization while warmer temperatures will damage the honey. Be sure to keep your honey away from the stove, heat-producing products and sunlight. If your house tends to run on the warm side, all you need to do is find the coolest spot in your pantry. Honey is known to be the food that does not spoil due to its high concentration of sugars.


How To Add Honey To Your Delivery: CSA members - head on over to our online Farm Stand Market to customize your upcoming delivery. The Market is open from noon on Thursday until 10 am, 2 days before your scheduled delivery day. After you confirm your produce items, click the orange button "Confirm and Continue To Other Farm Products" to add the products to your delivery.

Not part of our farm family? Find out if we deliver to your neighborhood.