Connecticut's First Sweet Corn Available Now In Newtown
Connecticutâs First Sweet Corn Available Now In Newtown
By John Voket
How would you like to include a steaming pile of Connecticut grown sweet corn on your Independence Day picnic table? Thanks to a cooperative relationship with one of the stateâs earliest producers of sweet corn, Shorttâs Farm in Newtown is ready to provide.
According to the state Department of Agriculture, Connecticut is set apart from its neighboring states in New England and in the entire Northeast because specific conditions along the Connecticut River Valley help produce the earliest crops of this popular and succulent veggie.
Using a combination of plastic mulch and fabric row cover, several Connecticut farmers specializing in extra-early sweet corn production are consistently able to bring the first ears to market ahead of the rest of the Northeast. This year is no exception.
Baggott Farms of East Windsor, which provides sweet corn to Shorttâs, began harvesting last Sunday and other farms using similar techniques will begin picking this week.
Bill Deusing of the stateâs Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA) chapter (nofact.org) said there are unique characteristics to both the soil and climate along the river that provide optimum conditions for accelerated sweet corn production.
But the NOFA executive, an organic farmer himself, said many of the stateâs other regions will not be far behind in offering this sweet seasonal favorite.
âI expect Beardsleyâs Farm in Shelton to have sweet corn available pretty soon,â Mr Deusing said.
Those who want to be first to sample the first of the 2011 crop should expect to see sweet corn popping up at farmersâ markets and farm stands this week, including the Sandy Hook Organic Farmersâ Market at Fairfield Hills.
The handful of farms that specialize in extra-early production wholesale to other farms whose corn is not yet ready, according to state Agriculture Commissioner Steven K. Reviczky, who said this cooperation among local farmers results in widespread availability for consumers across the state.
âOne of Connecticutâs agricultural distinctions is its super-early sweet corn,â Commissioner Reviczky said. âItâs one of the things that makes our early summers extra special, and it can be enjoyed by all residents, regardless of which part of the state they live in, thanks to the way our farmers work together. That first bite of the first ear of the season is a gustatory delight we relish before our neighbors in surrounding states, and is one reason I love living and working in Connecticut.â
Sweet corn is among the most popular of Connecticut Grown vegetables. Approximately 300 farms dedicate a total of 4,500 acres to the crop, producing 37.6 million ears annually, or about 11 ears per person each year.
These figures are for sweet corn only, the kind that is used for corn-on-the-cob, and do not include field corn grown for livestock feed or milling into corn meal.
Consumers seeking Connecticut Grown sweet corn and other crops of the season can locate the nearest farmersâ market or farm stand by visiting the Connecticut Department of Agricultureâs website, www.CTGrown.gov, and clicking on Publications at the top of the page.
And if youâre picking up some of that sweet corn, why not try this recipe from wholesomewave.org.
Lobster & Sweet Corn Succotash
Two 1Â½ -pound lobsters
Kernels from 6 ears sweet corn (about 2 cups corn kernels)
1 tablespoon grape seed oil
2 peeled shallots, sliced
1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into Â¼-inch dice
1 fennel bulb, cut into Â¼-inch dice
3 cups light cream
1/2 cup cooked dried heirloom beans
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes
2 tablespoons minced fresh herbs, such as thyme,
tarragon, chervil, or parsley
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Fill a large stockpot with water about half full and bring to a boil over high heat. Put the lobsters into the boiling water, head first, cover and let the lobsters cook for about 10 minutes. The shells will be bright red and the lobster meat cooked through but not overcooked.
(You can substitute two cups of canned lobster meat if fresh lobsters are not available)
Let the lobsters cool and then crack the shells and remove the meat from the claws and bodies and cut into pieces about 1/2- to 1-inch long. You will have about two scant cups of lobster meat. Set aside.
Finely chop half the corn kernels or pulse them in the bowl of a small food processor. Set aside, keeping any juice that seeps from them.
In a stockpot, heat the grape seed oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook for 1 to 2 minutes until they begin to soften. Add the carrot and fennel, reduce the heat to low and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, or until the vegetables begin to soften nicely. Add the reserved whole corn kernels and cook another 1 to 2 minutes.
Add the cream, the chopped corn kernels and any reserved liquid and cook over medium-high heat for about 3 minutes, stirring constantly so as not to boil over, until the cream just begins to thicken. Add the lobster meat and cook until the sauce is thickened nicely and lobster is heated through and not tough.
Stir in the beans, butter, and herbs. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.