In season: corn

Ronnie Mathis says nobody is as concerned as farmers about rain, whether we’re getting too much or too little. Georgia’s cold, wet spring meant the corn he planted in April didn’t want to come up.

“Typically we have corn available by mid-June, but this year it’s a month later than it was last year, maybe more,” said Mathis. He planted Silver Queen, probably the most popular white sweet corn grown. But he also likes to grow bicolor corn like Peaches and Cream.

“I really like the bicolors, but it’s like eating ice cream. You don’t really want to eat chocolate all the time so I like to change from time to time,” he said.

He is more sure of his favorite way to eat corn: boiled and eaten right off the cob with a tiny bit of salt and a little bit of butter.

Mathis is the farmer at Mountain Earth Farms, a certified naturally grown farm in Clarkesville, north of Gainesville. He’s been farming there since 1970, when he started with an apple and peach orchard. In the past 10 years, he’s transitioned to vegetables and other fruits like strawberries, blackberries and blueberries. He has 20 acres in cultivation.

He takes his produce to the Saturday Green Market at Piedmont Park and the Suwanee Farmers Markets on Saturdays and Tuesdays, and he sells to grocery stores and restaurants.

Customers know what they want when they’re shopping for corn, Mathis said.

“Unlike some things like kale or bok choy, people know a lot about corn and they’ll tell you their favorite way is creamed or off the cob. They know plenty about fixing corn,” Mathis said. And when they like the corn they buy, they come back week after week.

Mathis makes sure his corn is growing in good rich soil. He’s certain the compost and worm castings he uses keep the Brix value, or sugar content, of his corn quite high.

Succession planting of corn in different fields allows him to extend the harvest window.

“If the weather stays reasonable, no long periods of too much dry or too much wet weather, we hope to have corn all the way into late September, early October,” he said.

Corn doesn’t have to be cooked to be enjoyed. Raw kernels cut off the cob from really fresh corn are wonderful in salads or turned into cold summer soups.

If you can’t eat your corn right away, make sure you refrigerate it as soon as you get it home. Refrigeration helps the corn retain sugar. Keep it in the husk until you’re ready to use it.

At local farmers markets

Special events:

Community Farmers Markets and Slow Food Atlanta are hosting the third annual Peach Jam.

Thursday, June 27, 5:30 – 7 p.m.: peach cocktail competition at the East Atlanta Village Farmers Market.

Saturday, June 29, 10 a.m. – noon: “Peachapalooza” cook-off at the East Lake Farmers Market.

Sunday, June 30, 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.: peach cobbler competition at the Grant Park Farmers Market.

For information: http://www.farmatl.org/events/peach-jam-2013/

Cooking demos:

4 – 8 p.m., Thursday, June 27. Chef Seth Freedman of Forage and Flame offers demos throughout the evening. East Atlanta Village Farmers Market, Atlanta. www.farmeav.com

9 a.m. Saturday, June 29. Chef David Roberts, Community “Q”, working with torpedo onions. Morningside Farmers Market, Atlanta. www.morningsidemarket.com

10 a.m. Saturday, June 29. Chef Brent Banda, La Tavola. Peachtree Road Farmers Market, Atlanta. www.peachtreeroadfarmersmarket.com

11 a.m. Saturday, June 29. Chef Travis Carroll, Top Flr. Green Market at Piedmont Park, Atlanta. www.piedmontpark.org

For sale

Vegetables and fruit: arugula, Asian greens, beets, blackberries, blueberries, broccoli, broccoli raab, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chard, collards, cucumbers, dandelion, fennel, garlic, garlic scapes, green beans, green garlic, herbs, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce, mushrooms, mustard greens, nectarines, onions, pea tendrils, peaches, plums, potatoes, radicchio, radishes, sorrel, spinach, spring onions, squash blossoms, strawberries, summer squash, tomatoes, turnips

From local reports


Chai Pani’s Corn Bhel

Hands on: 15 minutes

Total time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Serves: 6

Crunch is an essential component of this fresh salad that features summer vegetables at their freshest. At Chai Pani, they add corn poha, Indian cornflakes, which are widely available at Indian groceries and the Buford Highway Farmers Market. The recipe offers pita chips, tortilla strips or croutons as a substitute.

4 medium ears corn in the husk

1 cup diced red onion (about 1 medium onion)

1 cup diced cucumber, seeds removed before dicing

1 cup diced Roma tomatoes (about 2 small tomatoes)

1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro leaves

4 mint leaves, cut into 1/8-inch strips, plus extra for garnish

2 cups pita chips, tortilla strips or croutons

1/2 cup Cumin-Lime Dressing (see recipe), more if needed

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.

Wet the corn so it’s just damp and arrange, in the husk, on a baking sheet. Roast for 40 minutes, or until the kernels are lightly browned. Peel back the husk to check the progress. Remove roasted corn from oven and allow to cool 15 minutes. Remove husks and silks from corn, which will come off easily after the roasting.

Cut kernels off the cob and put into a large bowl. Add onion, cucumber, tomatoes, cilantro and mint. Toss everything together. Add pita chips, tortilla strips or croutons and toss together. Add dressing and toss. Serve immediately, garnished with mint if desired.

Per serving: 245 calories (percent of calories from fat, 46), 5 grams protein, 30 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams fiber, 13 grams fat (2 grams saturated), no cholesterol, 127 milligrams sodium.

Chai Pani’s Cumin Lime Dressing

Hands on: 5 minutes

Total time: 5 minutes

Makes: 3/4 cup

Don’t use extra virgin olive oil for this dressing. Its flavor will overpower the rest of the ingredients.

2 tablespoons unseasoned rice wine vinegar

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion or shallot

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves

1 clove garlic

3/4 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons light olive oil or canola oil

Salt and pepper

In the bowl of a food processor, combine vinegar, lime juice, onion or shallot, cilantro, garlic and cumin and process until the mixture is pureed. With the machine running, add the olive oil in a thin stream until the mixture emulsifies. Taste for seasoning. Dressing may be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Bring to room temperature before using.

Per 1-tablespoon serving: 103 calories (percent of calories from fat, 96), trace protein, 1 gram carbohydrates, trace fiber, 11 grams fat (2 grams saturated), no cholesterol, 1 milligram sodium.

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