(TRENTON) – Agriculture Secretary Charles
M. Kuperus today announced that New Jersey residents
will be able to enjoy Jersey Fresh tomatoes and sweet
corn at their Fourth of July celebrations.
Tomatoes were planted a week or two later this year due to cool and wet
spring planting conditions, however, the lack of early frost exposure
and favorable growing conditions have produced an excellent looking crop
this year. Harvesting of sweet corn began mid-June with the peak of the
corn season expected to arrive around July 20th.
“Just the right mixture of rain, sun, and warm temperatures has made for
a bountiful, very good quality harvest for our delicious and nutritious sweet
corn and tomatoes this summer,” said Secretary Kuperus. “The crops
are about a week early and will be in many markets for all to enjoy this holiday
In 2003, New Jersey ranked 7th in the nation in the value of its tomato
crop at $27.9 million and 8th in the nation in both acres harvested and
amount of tomatoes harvested. Last year, New Jersey harvested 68.2 million
pounds of tomatoes on 3,100 acres.
Last year, New Jersey harvested 50.7 million pounds of sweet corn on
7,800 acres. The crop was valued at $12.1 million dollars.
“Nothing beats the great taste of Jersey Fresh sweet corn and tomatoes,
and this year’s crops are of exceptional quality,” said Secretary
Kuperus. “Always look for the Jersey Fresh logo at your local farm market
or supermarket to be sure you’re buying locally grown sweet corn and tomatoes.”
Tomatoes are ready to eat when they are slightly soft. An extremely firm
tomato is not yet fully ripe, even though it may be completely red. Never
refrigerate Jersey tomatoes. This destroys the natural, vine-ripened
taste. Never place them on windowsills, which are usually too hot. Store
tomatoes at room temperature in a cool dark place. A sliced tomato loses
its vine-ripened flavor quickly so choose tomatoes that are small enough
to consume in one meal.
When choosing corn, look for ears with bright green, snugly fitting husks,
and golden brown silk. Inside, the kernels should come all the way to
the ear’s tip, with tightly spaced rows, and appear plump and milky.
If pricked, a kernel should spurt milky white juice. Choose ears with
medium-sized kernels. Very small kernels are immature, and large kernels
have a starchy taste. Yellow corn has larger, fuller-flavored kernels,
while white kernels are smaller and sweeter.
For best flavor, eat sweet corn as soon as possible. Leaving husks on
when storing corn helps preserves the flavor. At room temperature, the
glucose in corn will convert to starch in as little as 24 hours, so refrigeration
is critical for maintaining freshness. Corn absorbs odors from foods
such as green onions, so avoid storing with other produce. Keep unshucked
fresh corn in the refrigerator until ready to use, wrapped in damp paper
towels and placed in a plastic bag. Refrigerate for no more than three
days unless it is freshly picked.
To prepare corn, husk and wash it, fill a pot three-quarters full with
water, boil the water, add the corn and cook for about 5 minutes or to
The following recipe is from Jersey Fresh Cooks, a cookbook available
at local farm markets. Laurie Medeiros of Chester submitted the recipe.
For the location of farm markets or other information about Jersey Fresh,
visit the Jersey Fresh website at www.jerseyfresh.nj.gov.
Corn, Tomato and Basil Salad
6 small ears Jersey Fresh corn
2 Tablespoons olive oil
6 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
¼ cup Jersey Fresh basil, thinly sliced
30 Jersey Fresh cherry tomatoes, cut in half
2 Tablespoons wine vinegar (or balsamic)
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Cut corn kernels from cobs. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high
heat. Add minced garlic. Sauté about 1 minute until it releases
flavor -- do not brown. Add corn kernels, and sauté until just
cooked through – about 4 minutes. Remove from heat. Add half of
the sliced basil. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer mixture to a
bowl. Cool slightly, stirring occasionally. Stir in tomatoes, vinegar,
and remaining basil. Season with additional salt and pepper, if needed.
Cover and chill 3 hours (or up to 8 hours).