Kopp's Crops is a family-run business specializing in maple syrup, honey and fresh vegetables. We are located 45 miles north of Minneapolis in Bradford Township on our 65 acre farm.

*Now Selling at the Cambridge-Isanti Farmers Market!*

Local Orders: For pickup in Isanti, Cambridge, Brooklyn Park or Arden Hills, please email koppscrops@gmail.com or call 763-772-7057 to place your order and arrange payment & pickup. Available products are listed in the shopping cart below.

Outside the Twin Cities: Please use the online shopping cart below. USPS shipping charges will be calculated at checkout.

For questions, please email us at koppscrops@gmail.com


Friday, June 24, 2011

Rare Finds – The Fungus Among Us

You know that famous saying:  April showers bring May Morel mushrooms (flowers, mushrooms… whatever).  The meaty texture & succulent flavor of Morels make them a favorite of mushroom aficionados, and Jason has a few top-secret hunting grounds around the county where he searches for the little brain-shaped delicacies.  But last spring we were surprised and delighted to find a single Morel mushroom growing in the bark chips in our landscaping, of all places.  After we washed off that Morel and the others he’d found, we “planted” some more by pouring the water (and hopefully some spores) into the same spot of the landscaping where the soil appears to be conducive to mushroom growth.  It worked… this year we picked a dozen Morels there! 
 This week we got another pleasant fungus surprise – a whole forest plot of Polyporus Umbellatus mushrooms (photo at left), just a dozen yards from our back door.  We first thought they were the more common Hen of the Woods that we’ve found and enjoyed in past years.  But these lacy mushrooms, sometimes referred to as Zhuling, are exceedingly rare and highly sought after in Chinese medicine.  They are reputed to have anti-tumor, antioxidant, anti-viral and anti-protozoal  effects, enhance the immune system, treat urological disorders and chlamydia, and grow hair.   Now you know how Papa Smurf got that luxurious beard!

To preserve the mushroom for future recipes (or anti-something-or-another treatment), we cut them up and put them in the dehydrator for about five hours, and now keep them in airtight glass jars to keep them nice & dry.  Our philosophy is that you can never play it too with wild mushrooms – even though Jason knows how to recognize the edible vs. inedible mushrooms, we still double-check online whenever we find a new variety to make sure there are no dangerous “look-alike” impostors lurking about, ready to slip us a mushroom mickey.  We also always cook them before eating them – if nothing else, it makes them easier to digest.  And of course, the ultimate test:  Jason is the official mushroom toxicity tester.   For each new variety we find, he eats some first.  If by the next day he’s not violently ill, we deem them safe for the rest of the family.  Tomorrow is testing day for the Zhulings…wish him luck!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Popeye Would Be Proud

We had our second big harvest at the end of last week– three garbage bags full spinach.  Lawn & leaf bags, actually – the really big ones.  Which made us really happy until we realized that a) we had to wash all that spinach at least twice before processing to get rid of all the non-spinach matter, and b) that it was going to cook down to nothing in the jar, and leave us with a significantly less impressive-looking yield.   
We did the initial washing in a big washtub outside to get rid of the bulk of the dirt and sand (and avoid making such a big mess inside!).  Then it was into the house for a more thoroughly-scrutinized wash.   We swished small batches of leaves in a sink full of water to get rid of the rest of the sand, and then did a quick visual scan of each leaf on its way to the stock pot to pick out the icky spots and other things that we don’t care to include in our jars.  A partial list of the goodies we pulled out of the spinach this week:  clover, pollen strings, grass, more clover, a small bee, various assorted non-spinach leafy weeds, still more clover and one dead daddy longlegs.  Mmmm! 
After the spinach was squeaky clean, we wilted it in a little water, then packed the leaves fairly tightly into clean pint jars.  We’ll write more about the canning process in upcoming posts, but the unique part of canning spinach is the processing time.  Spinach needs to spend 70 minutes in a pressure canner at 10lbs of pressure, which is longer than most other foods.  Botulism risk, which is the biggest concern for inappropriately-processed home canned goods, increases with the surface area of the food inside the jar.  And it’s hard to find anything with more surface area than a jar filled with hundreds, if not thousands of spinach leaves.  Did we mention how those leaves cook down to nothing?   So two batches of jars meant two hours and twenty minutes of hanging out in the kitchen, making sure that the canner kept the proper pressure, all for a mere 32 pints of canned spinach.  Yes, you read that correctly:  3 lawn & leaf bags of spinach = just 32 pints of canned spinach.  Makes that 40-to-1 maple sap to syrup ratio look downright generous, doesn’t it?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Relishing the Radishes

Hard to believe, but the first crop of the season is done – rest in peace, radishes.  Or pieces, I suppose (keep reading, it will make sense eventually).  We always get a little overzealous with our radishes and plant too many, simply because they have the shortest maturity time, and the seeds can withstand the coldest temperatures, so they’re always the first thing we can eat from the garden.   Frankly, if they weren’t the first edible vegetable, we probably wouldn’t bother.  After all, how many ways are there to eat radishes?  Raw with a little salt.  Sliced in a lettuce salad.  Sliced in a spinach salad.  And partially sliced in that oh-so-artistic way that turns them into rosettes for a platter of veggies and dip.  Apparently they’re “too pretty to eat” that way, because we’ve never been to a party where they weren’t the last thing left on the plate, even after the last celery sticks have been grudgingly used to scrape the last remnants of congealing dip from the bowl. 
But given their nice firm texture, radishes seem like a vegetable we could either freeze or can; something to preserve them long enough to let the memory of monotonous radish-garnished salads fade, and make us want to eat them again.  Surely someone has figured out a way to preserve these things, right?  Food.com delivered, with a recipe we just had to try:  http://www.food.com/recipe/pickled-radishes-118828.  Unfortunately, the recipe doesn’t call for a hot water bath, so the jars aren’t sealed and shelf-stable, and will therefore be taking up some valuable real estate in the refrigerator.  But the food processor made short work of the slicing, and the jars turned out the loveliest shade of pink.  Eight hours later we tentatively tried the first one, and… yum! This recipe is a keeper, and officially cements the formerly-maligned radishes’ right to take up two full rows in next summer’s garden.