by Jennifer Meehan
There is no more perfect taste of summer than a fresh cob of corn. Even better, perhaps, are those leisurely drives down country roads on precious weekend escapes from the city that inevitably lead you to farm stands overflowing with crates of freshly-picked corn, and stopping to browse the bins for a few perfect ears. Though we’re nearing the end of August (and summer – sniff, sniff) corn season is at its peak.
Even if you can’t manage to get out of the city, you’ll definitely find a bounty of corn at your local Greenmarket. The Garden of Eve stand at the Greenpoint/McCarren Park Greenmarket had an impressive haul of organic corn last week. I wanted to find out more, so I stopped and chatted with Hassleer, one of their farmers.
Hassleer is from Peru and has been working at Garden of Eve for the past 2 seasons. He originally came to the farm as part of a multinational exchange to promote sustainable agriculture. After returning to Peru for two years, he moved to Vermont to work on an organic farm. Eventually, Hassleer decided he’d like to return to Garden of Eve, so he called them up to find out if they needed any help. Luckily for him, they were a little shorthanded.
Garden of Eve is located on the East End of Long Island in Riverhead, NY about 80 miles east of the city. They start their corn in the greenhouse in late March, where it stays a week or so before being transplanted to the fields in April. Hassleer, who is in charge of harvesting, says they usually begin harvesting the corn around in mid-July.
Corn season lasts barely two months – usually beginning in mid-July and ending in September. The earlier crop experiences fewer problems with insects nd bugs, but since Garden of Eve is completely organic they have to be quite cautious about natural threats to the corn as the season progresses.
I asked Hassleer about his favorite way to eat corn. He said by grabbing an ear, peeling it, and eating it raw. While harvesting, he likes to ocassionally treat himself to a snack in a similar fashion.
I also spoke with Chef John Adler at Franny’s in Prospect Heights to find out what he likes to do with corn. He said that at Franny’s they’re currently serving a seasonal special: corn zeppole. To prepare, he begins with two separate mixes: one of house-cured pancetta, diced hot peppers and sweet corn, and another of yeast, cornmeal, all-purpose flour, water and salt. Once the yeast batter has risen, he adds the corn, pancetta and hot pepper mix, then stirs everything together and gives it a quick fry in 350-degree oil. He serves the zeppole in traditional Italian style, accompanied by a wedge of lemon.