Get your fix

Fresh, local corn crop begins to arrive at farms; 'We eat corn until we can't stand it anymore'
Customers gather around the newly harvested corn at the Seven Oaks Farm country store.Bob Pennell

When her grandchildren visit from California, Charlette Karumm treats them to farm-fresh foods, especially "real corn."

"We eat corn until we can't stand it anymore," says the Central Point resident.

Cooking tips for sweet corn

u Steam — Remove husks and silks. Trim stem ends. Stand ears in a tall pot with 1 inch of water. Cover with a tight- fitting lid and steam for 5 minutes.

  • Microwave — Place ears of corn, still in husks, in a single layer in the microwave. Microwave on high for 2 minutes, turning the ears halfway through cooking time. Allow corn to rest several minutes before removing the husks and silks.
  • Boil — Remove husks and silks. Trim stem ends. Carefully place ears in large pot of boiling water. Cook for 2 to 4 minutes, or until the kernels are tender.

Grilling sweet corn

Peel away the outer layers of husk. If the ears have many layers, peel off the first few, leaving a few layers for protection but allowing the kernels to caramelize a little.

  • Put the corn on the grill as soon as the initial flames from the charcoal die down and the coals are still red-hot. Corn protected by its husk is very forgiving, so if a few flames lick the ears and light the husks, don't worry. Take care, however, not to crowd the grill, which would choke off too much air to the coals.
  • Grill the corn, turning often, until the first layer of husk is charred completely. Depending on your fire, this could take 5 to 10 minutes. You can push the corn to a cooler spot if you're grilling other things for your meal, or transfer the grilled corn to a platter and keep it warm in the charred husks until serving.
  • Just before serving, peel back the husk and brown the kernels on the grill, turning the corn frequently. You don't need to oil the corn for grilling directly like this, as it takes only a minute or so for it to develop a roasty color and a little additional smoke flavor. But if the corn spends too long on the grill without the protection of the husk, the kernels will become dry and a bit chewy.
  • To remove the corn from its husk, cut the stem end up to the bottom of the ear and peel back the husks and silk. You might need to brush away burnt silks. Now just dress the corn as you like: with butter, olive oil and salt.

— McClatchy News Service

Impatiently withstanding the wait for sweet corn, Karumm and other customers of Seven Oaks Farm finally got their fix last week. The crop will continue into October with daily sales topping 10,000 pounds. Priced at 41 cents per ear or $4.50 per dozen, the corn is never more than 24 hours old, or it goes to the farm's cattle.

"Everything is so fresh," says customer Lynda Watkins of Central Point. "They've got everything you need."

Specializing in melons, tomatoes and sweet onions — and dabbling in all manner of vegetables from beets and cucumbers to peppers and zucchini — Seven Oaks became known for sweet corn since opening its country store in 1995.

For fall, all manner of winter squash and pumpkins will populate the property that has been in Doreen Bradshaw's family for nearly 80 years. The store at 5504 Rogue Valley Highway is open from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday

With fields fronting Interstate 5, Seven Oaks' crops compel customers' gaze starting in spring. Watkins says she watches every day for signs that Seven Oaks is close to opening while she drives home from Grants Pass.

"I do a lot of canning and freezing," she says, stuffing pickling cucumbers into a green mesh bag.

"It's just a big 'yea!' " says Watkins of the store's season opener.

Corn aficionados may have wondered if Seven Oaks' crop would ever mature, says Bradshaw, explaining that the stalks are strangely short this year, although the ears are good-sized. Seven Oaks sows its bicolor, or polka-dot, varieties beginning in April and finished planting earlier this month to ensure a continuous supply. If customers encounter a bad ear, Seven Oaks encourages them to bring it back for another, rather than pulling the leaves away from the kernels before purchasing.

The sweet corn harvest was due to start this week at White's Country Farm in west Medford. Last year's price was $1 for three ears. The store at 3939 W. Main St. is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday.

Weekly farmers markets also offer locally grown sweet corn. When purchasing, look for ears with green husks, moist stems and silk ends free of decay. Kernels should be small, tender, plump and milky when pierced, and they should fill up all the spaces in the rows.

Keep fresh corn, unhusked, in the refrigerator until ready to use, wrapped in damp paper towels and placed in a plastic bag. The typical shelf life is four to six days.

Reach Food Editor Sarah Lemon at 541-776-4487 or email slemon@mailtribune.com.



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