A late start but NJ corn is now ready for picking
Sweet, crunchy, Jersey fresh corn on the cob, sprinkled with a hint of salt and drenched in melted butter. There’s nothing like it to accompany the best summer meals, especially barbecue food.
Jersey sweet corn growing season got off to a bit of a late start due to rainy weather and an April cold snap, said Jim Giamarese, farmer and owner of Giamarese Farm and Orchards in East Brunswick.
He said it was an odd year because it warmed up in March. But April was a lot colder and wetter than normal. Since there were three nights or more of 30 degrees or below in April, it became cumulative, which hurt the first batch of crops.
Giamarese said his farmers are only picking 50 percent of corn now from the first batch that was planted last fall because that’s all that came up. It was cold. There was a frost and some plants died.
It was a nail-biter for a while but he said things should be back to normal soon.
“We’re picking sweet corn and I’m sure it will be plentiful within the next week or two. We’re at the beginning of the season,” he said.
Corn growing and picking season will last until around the second week in October in the Garden State.
Giamarese said what makes Jersey corn so unique is that it’s always freshly picked. Plus, the soil and climate are ideal.
Jersey corn likes hot, humid weather just like a Jersey tomato or peach, Giamarese added.
Some popular types of corn grown in New Jersey include a super sweet variety which is very sweet, a sugar-enhanced variety that has a little more corn flavor to it with less sugar, white sweet corn that is very recognizable to residents, bi-color corn which is both yellow and white, and regular yellow corn.
Giamarese has 15 acres of corn on his farm. He said people will be able to take part in pick-your-own corn starting in the fall.
“We do hay rides, pony rides, apple picking, and pumpkin picking. That’s when we’ll get the most people. So we’ll open it up to pick-your-own probably in the middle of September,” he said.
When choosing the perfect ear of corn, Giamarese said it’s important to pay attention to the “butt end.” That’s the end where the ear is attached to the stalk and it should look fresh. It should be dark brown, relatively light green, or maybe a yellowish color. That is how you know the corn was picked that day or the day before.
Giamarese said while most people usually boil their corn and throw a little salt and butter on it, he loves to eat freshly picked corn raw. He laughed and said while that may sound odd, most farmers eat a lot of raw corn because they need to sample the product before selling it.
Throwing fresh Jersey corn-on-the-cob on the grill is always delightful. Giamarese suggests leaving the husk on when grilling. Leave it on for about 10 to 15 minutes until the husk turns brown and there is a bit of a smoky flavor to it.
Grilling dries the corn out for a little bit, which he said, actually brings out the flavor and sweetness of the vegetable.
“I don’t know if a lot of people know this but New Jersey is one of the top 10 vegetable states in the country. We are one of the top 10 sweet corn growers, so that’s pretty unique,” Giamarese said.