Contact: Lynne Richmond
(TRENTON) – Agriculture Secretary Charles M. Kuperus today announced that Jersey Fresh tomatoes and sweet corn grown by the Garden State’s hard-working farmers is available at some community farmers markets and farm stands in time for the holiday weekend.
Lack of early frost, cooler than normal May temperatures and cool nights had corn and tomato crops off to a slow start, but warmer June nights helped put the crops back on track and the crop is harvesting at the normal time.
Sweet corn is set to begin harvesting this week with good quality and will be available in light to fair quantities for July 4th. It will be available throughout the summer and into September. Harvesting of tomatoes has been in light quantities last week and volume is expected to increase early next week with availability through early October.
“There is nothing better than Jersey Fresh tomatoes and sweet corn,” Secretary Kuperus said. “When shopping for the holiday weekend, take notice of the Jersey Fresh logo to be sure that you are buying the high quality, fresh, great tasting sweet corn and tomatoes.”
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has listed Jersey Fresh tomatoes as safe for consumption.
Jersey Fresh farmers produced 59.5 million pounds of tomatoes last year on 2,900 acres at a value of $23.6 million compared to 52.2 million pounds on the same 2,900 acres, valued at $19.6 million in 2006.
In 2007, 67.5 million pounds of sweet corn were produced on 7,100 acres worth $15.1 million compared to 77 million pounds on 7,000 acres worth $19 million the year before.
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. Avoid placing 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 could 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.
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.
For the location of farm markets, pick-your-own farms, 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.
Following recipes are found on the Jersey Fresh website at: www.jerseyfresh.nj.gov/recipes/recipefile.htm.
Classic Greek Tomato Salad
4 ripe tomatoes, cored and diced
1 cucumber, peeled (if waxed) and sliced
2 green peppers, cut into thin, round slices
15-20 Kalamata olives
1 large red onion, cut into thin slices
1/2 pound feta cheese
1/2 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt to taste
Combine all ingredients but reserve a portion of onions and feta cheese to toss on top after dousing with olive oil. Serves 4-6.
Recipe from Giamarese Farms, East Brunswick
2 lbs. white potatoes, diced
4 celery ribs, diced
1 bay leaf
3/4 lbs. onions, finely diced
3 Tbsp. butter
1 green bell pepper, finely diced
2 tsp. cumin seeds
3 Tbsp. flour
1/2 tsp. sage
1/2 tsp. white pepper
2 cups milk
3 ears of Jersey Fresh corn, blanched,
& cut from cobs
parsley, finely chopped
Boil potatoes with bay leaf, until just tender in one quart of water. Saute onions, peppers, celery, and cumin in butter until onions are transparent. Add sage, pepper and flour to the onion mixture with some of the potato water and stir to make a paste. Add potatoes and the rest of the potato water and heat. Add the milk and the corn. Heat thoroughly and garnish with parsley. Serves 14.