Corn arrived at farmers tailgate markets especially early this year, thanks to an early planting gamble that paid off for Lee’s One Fortune Farm.
You can get solid yellow or bicolor “peaches and cream” ears from the Lees now at ASAP, Black Mountain, West Asheville, River Arts District, and East Asheville markets. Expect other farms to have it ready in the next few weeks.
Corn doesn’t need much fuss to enjoy. Some swear by boiling corn in salted water for the best flavor, while others prefer the smokiness from grilling. If shucking corn always feels like a hassle, try cooking it without removing the husks. You can do this in the microwave, oven, or steamer pot. Once the corn is cooked, the husks and silks slip off more easily and with less mess. When buying just-picked corn at the farmers market, you can also skip the cooking entirely, and eat your corn raw, right off the cob.
Want to take it up a notch? Chef J. Chong recommends rubbing cooked corn on the cob with butter and the chili oil she sells alongside her dumplings at ASAP, River Arts District, and East Asheville markets. Or pick up some local feta for a version of elote or Mexican street corn. Combine half a cup of crumbled feta with with a fourth cup each of mayonnaise, sour cream, and chopped cilantro. Season with chili powder and minced garlic. Use the mixture to coat grilled corn and squeeze lime juice over. (Find feta from Spinning Spider Creamery at North Asheville and River Arts District markets or Three Graces Dairy at ASAP, North Asheville, and West Asheville markets.)
Peppers are starting to come in at markets now, too, so you’ve also got what you need for a great salsa. We like to combine raw corn kernels, anaheim peppers, cherry tomatoes, red onions, garlic, cilantro, and lime juice to top tacos, scrambled eggs, rice, or whatever else we’re eating. (Look for anaheim peppers from Flying Cloud Farm at North Asheville and River Arts District markets.)
Or make a simple no-cook chilled basil-corn soup. Cut the kernels off of three or four ears of corn and place in a blender with half a cup of basil leaves, one and a half cups of buttermilk or milk, a spring onion or several scallions, one to two cloves of garlic, juice from half a lime, and a handful of ice cubes. Blend until very smooth, then season with salt and pepper to taste. If you want, you can strain through a sieve for a smoother soup.
At farmers markets now you’ll also find blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, peaches, tomatoes, eggplant, cucumbers, summer squash, okra, green beans, new potatoes, carrots, microgreens, mushrooms and much more. Markets are also stocked with bread, cheese, pastries, drinks, and prepared foods. There are more than 100 farmers tailgate markets throughout the Appalachian Grown region. Find them, as well as farms and other local food businesses, in ASAP’s online Local Food Guide.
Prepared by Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project.