Contact: Lynne Richmond
(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 and sweet corn 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 minor quantities of tomatoes began last week and fair quantities should be available in local markets the week of July 4th. Harvesting of sweet corn also began last week with corn season continuing through Labor Day.
“Just the right mixture of sun, moisture and warm temperatures are leading to what promises to be a good season for summer produce,” said Secretary Kuperus. “Two of consumers’ favorite Jersey Fresh crops – tomatoes and sweet corn – should be available in many markets for all to enjoy for the July 4th holiday.”
In 2006, New Jersey ranked 9th in the nation in tomato production with 52.2 million pounds grown on 2,900 acres and a value of $19.6 million.
Last year, New Jersey’s sweet corn crop was ranked 8th in the nation for its value of $19 million. Farmers harvested 77 million pounds of sweet corn on 7,000 acres. .
“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.
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 taste.
The following recipe is from Jersey Fresh Cooks, a cookbook available at local farm markets. For the location of farm markets or other information about Jersey Fresh, visit the Jersey Fresh website at www.jerseyfresh.nj.gov. For farm visit information, go to www.visitnjfarms.org.
3/4 cup chopped onions or scallions
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 large garlic clove, minced
1-1/2 cups Jersey Fresh sweet corn kernels
2-1/2 cups cooked long-grain white or brown rice
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 can of tomato sauce, 8 oz. size
1 tsp. mild chili powder
1/4 tsp. dried thyme leaves
1/8 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
In a 12" non-stick skillet, combine scallions, parsley, garlic and oil. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the scallions are tender. Stir in the corn and cook, stirring, until the corn is heated through. Stir in the cooked rice, cilantro, tomato sauce, chili powder, thyme, and pepper. Simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Serves 5.
Per serving: 207 calories, 0 milligrams cholesterol, 1.9 grams of total fat (8% of calories), 0.3 grams of saturated fat.
Simple Salsa with Lime
4 firm, large Jersey tomatoes
1/2 medium onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup cilantro, coarsely chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped fine
Juice of 1 large lime
Pinch or 2 of sugar
Salt to taste
Corn chips to dip
Grate tomatoes on largest holes of a non-metal hand grater. Grate onion. Add the rest of the ingredients, except for the corn chips, and refrigerate until serving time. Serves 5. Best if flavors blend in refrigerator for an hour before serving.