Fresh Jersey corn on the cob, sweet and crunchy, sprinkled with a hint of salt and dipped in melted butter. Nothing like it to accompany the best summer meals, especially grilled meats.
The Jersey sweet corn growing season started a little late due to wet weather and an April cold snap, said Jim Giamarese, farmer and owner of Giamarese Farm and Orchards in eastern Brunswick.
He said it was an odd year because it warmed up in March. But April was much colder and wetter than normal. Since there were three or more nights of 30 degrees or less in April, it became cumulative, hurting the first batch of crops.
Giamarese said his farmers are now only picking 50% of the corn 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.
He was a nail biter for a while, but he said things should be back to normal soon.
“We are picking sweet corn and I’m sure it will be plentiful in a week or two. We are at the start of the season,” he said.
The corn growing and picking season will last until about the second week of October in the Garden State.
Giamarese said what makes Jersey corn so unique is that it’s always freshly picked. In addition, the soil and climate are ideal.
Jersey corn likes warm, humid weather just like a tomato or a Jersey peach, Giamarese added.
Some popular types of corn grown in New Jersey include a very sweet super sweet variety, a high sugar variety that has a little more corn flavor with less sugar, very recognizable white sweet corn for residents, bicolor corn that is both yellow and white, and regular yellow corn.
Giamarese has 15 acres of maize on his farm. He said people will be able to pick your own corn starting in the fall.
“We do hay rides, pony rides, apple picking and pumpkin picking. This is when we will have the most people. So we will open it for U-pick probably in mid-September,” he said.
When choosing the perfect corn cob, Giamarese said it’s important to pay attention to the “back end.” This is the end where the ear is attached to the stem and it should look cool. It should be dark brown, relatively light green, or perhaps yellowish. This is how you know the corn was picked that day or the day before.
Giamarese said that although most people boil their corn and throw in a little salt and butter, he loves to eat freshly picked raw corn. He laughed and said that although it may sound strange, most farmers eat a lot of raw maize because they have to taste the product before selling it.
Throwing fresh Jersey corn on the grill is always delicious. Giamarese suggests leaving the shell on when cooking. Leave it for about 10-15 minutes until the husk turns brown and tastes a little smoky.
Grilling dries out the corn a bit, which he says 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 growing states in the country. We’re a top 10 sweet corn producer, so that’s pretty unique,” Giamarese said.
Jen Ursillo is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach her at [email protected]
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