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Food & Drink

Western Pa. corn crop is plentiful and sweet

| Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2018, 12:03 a.m.

Western Pennsylvania’s corn crop is oh-so sweet.

Despite early predictions of a slow and sorry season for one of summer’s favorite veggies, farmers in Westmoreland, Washington, Indiana and Allegheny counties are reaping the harvest of their hard work – a harvest they say should last until the end of September, if Mother Nature cooperates.

Local sweet corn crops appear to be more plentiful than last year, when the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau said a wet spring delayed the harvest because some farmers had to wait for favorable soil conditions to plant seeds.

Palmer’s Farm, Westmoreland County

Neil Palmer of Unity Township, Westmoreland County, reports that the weather has been satisfactory this year for his 15-acre corn crop that he picks by hand on his fourth-generation family farm.

“We did have a late winter and a wet spring,” he says, “and I was a little concerned with the heat we had a few weeks back.”

But so far, his bi-color and white corn that he sells at his farm stand is looking good.

Since sweet corn can lose up to 60 percent of its sweetness within 24 hours of being picked, Palmer says his corn is picked daily and isn’t sold after the day it is harvested. Once it’s picked, corn becomes highly perishable, so he recommends popping it into the fridge fast.

Details: Palmer’s Farm, Bailey Farm Road, Unity Township, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday, 9:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday –Friday, 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday; 724-834-5287 or palmersfarm.com

Yarnick’s Farm, Indiana County

At Yarnick’s Farm in Indiana County, Dan Yarnick says he had sweet corn by June 28 from his first planting this spring and production is in full swing.

Taking care of the corn crop is a family affair for Yarnick, his wife, Lynnette, and son, Joey, who are responsible for 110 acres this year.

“We grow the newest generation of corn,” Dan says. “It’s non-GMO , and it’s extra-tender and super-sweet.” Their new sweet corn puller increases efficiency by enabling them to harvest their Sugar Butter corn at the rate of 600 dozen ears an hour.

Besides supplying local Eat ‘n’ Parks and other Pittsburgh restaurants, Yarnick’s sells corn at their farm market and mobile markets in Indiana, Vandergrift, Johnstown and Ligonier.

Yarnick’s Farm will celebrate its annual harvest at its Sweet Corn Festival from 2-6 p.m. Aug. 5. A $5 ticket (children 11 and under are free) includes live music by Jeff Pecon, Jeff Winard and Brian O’Boyle, and “all the sweet corn you can eat,” says Dan. Ethnic foods, baked goods and drinks also are available for purchase.

Details: Yarnick’s Farm, 155 Thomas Covered Bridge Road, Indiana, 724-349-3904 or yarnicksfarm.com

Trax Farms, Washington County

Trax Farms in Finleyville has homegrown sweet corn picked daily. Their farm market is open 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday. Here are a few tips from their website:

To freeze whole kernel corn: blanch cleaned ears, using 1 gallon of water per pound of corn. Blanch 5-6 minutes; cool quickly by placing in ice water. Cut corn from cobs at 2/3 depth of kernels; do not scrape. Fill freezer containers or bags, shaking to pack lightly, and leave a ½-inch headspace. Freeze immediately.

To store harvested ears, keep them refrigerated. With the husk intact, corn will keep for 3-4 days. You can husk and store in perforated plastic bags for 3-4 days. The flavor loss will be noticeable.

Whether boiling, steaming, or roasting corn-on-the-cob, don’t overcook it. Here are some guidelines; the times may vary depending on the size of the ears. Boil: 7-10 minutes; Steam: 5-10 minutes; Roast (in husk): 25 minutes, soak corn in water before roasting in husk to prevent scorching; Roast (in foil): 15 minutes.

Details: Trax Farms, 528 Trax Road, Finleyville, 412-835-3246 or traxfarms.com

Soergel Orchards, Allegheny County

Soergel Orchards in Wexford is getting ready for its Summer Harvest Festival from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 4-5, which will include tractor rides, games, family activities, and a farmers market featuring sweet corn. The family-owned farm also has a Corn Roast from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays through Aug. 26, which spokesman Eric Voll says are laid-back afternoons with a lot of good food.

His brother, Adam Voll, farm manager at Soergel’s, is in charge of the farm’s planting schedule, which includes planting corn until October if the weather is favorable.

“Every week we plant a few different varieties, so we can pick fresh corn every day of the week,” he says. “This year we have 45 acres planted in corn, which keeps us busy. The flavor has been absolutely tremendous this year.”

Adam says the biggest mistakes people make in preparing fresh corn is not keeping it refrigerated before it’s eaten and overcooking it.

“It only needs boiled two or three minutes,” he says. “My personal favorite is leaving it in the husk and cooking it on the grill. It takes a little longer, about 15 minutes, but it steams itself.” Remember to rotate the corn on the grill, he adds.

The farm manager also is an advocate for eating sweet corn right out of the husk.

“Try eating it raw, I highly encourage everyone to try it. It tastes even sweeter,” Adam says, adding that taste is the best test of when corn’s ready to pick.

“Pretty much every day, I’m having corn for breakfast” during the busy season, he says, since he and his team pick corn first thing in the morning and get it in the cooler as quickly as they can.

Soergel’s market is open 8 a.m.-7:30 p.m. Monday-Friday and 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Details: Soergel Orchards, 2573 Brandt School Road, Wexford, 724-935-1743 or soergels.com

Schramm Farms Orchards, Westmoreland County

Hil Schramm, owner of Schramm Farms Orchards in Penn Township, says their bi-color and white corn is good this summer due to the rainy spring and he expects a good crop well into September.

Schramms celebrates the season with their Corn Cookout Car Cruise events, scheduled for 11 a.m.–4 p.m. July 28 and 4-7 p.m. Oct. 3.

Details: Schramm Farms Orchards, 1002 Blank Road, Penn Township, open 9 a.m.-8 p.m. 724-744-7320 or schrammfarms.com

Triple B Farms, Allegheny County

Triple B Farms has fresh-picked sweet corn available now in its farm market, which also features other seasonal fruits and vegetables and fresh bakery items.

Details: Triple B Farms, 823 Berry Lane, Forward Township. Farm market is open 9 a.m.-6 p.m. weekdays, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. weekends. 724-258-3557 or triplebfarms.com

Wilted Kale Salad w/ Corn Mushrooms

Serves 4-5 as a side dish

Total time: 10 minutes

Ingredients: 2 tablespoons butter ¼ cup red onion, diced 1 yellow pepper, thinly sliced 1 tablespoon olive oil 1 clove garlic, minced 10 ounces mushrooms, sliced ½ cup corn, uncooked, sliced from the cob 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar 1 tablespoon honey 1 bunch of kale, roughly chopped ¼ cup grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese Salt and Pepper

Directions: In a large skillet over medium heat add butter, onion and pepper. Cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add olive oil, garlic and mushrooms. Cook for 4-5 minutes or until mushrooms are cooked through. Add corn, balsamic vinegar and honey; toss to coat. Remove from heat and add kale to the hot skillet. Mix until kale is just wilted and remove from skillet. Add salt and pepper to taste. Top with grated Parmesan/Asiago and serve immediately.

Corn & Peach Salsa

Total time: 15 minutes

Ingredients: 3 medium peaches, ripe but firm, peeled and diced 1 cup corn, raw and removed from ear 1 large tomato, diced 2 green onions, thinly sliced 2 jalapeno peppers, diced (optional) 6 basil leaves, chopped Juice of 1 lemon Salt and pepper to taste

Directions: Combine ingredients and mix well. Best made 2 hours in advance to allow flavors to blend. Refrigerate leftovers.

Corn and Peach Salsa from Schramm Farms.
Corn and Peach Salsa from Schramm Farms.
Corn and Peach Salsa from Schramm Farms.
Corn and Peach Salsa from Schramm Farms.
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