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For Immediate Release: June 29, 2004


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 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 weekend.”

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 taste.

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).