A Tale That’s Downright Corny

Moloa`a Organica`a is a certified organic, diversified farm on 20 acres in Moloaa. Ned and Marta Whitlock grow vegetables on four-acres and fruit on 15-acres. Moloa`a Organica`a harvests six days a week and supplies Kaua’i-based grocery stores and restaurants as well as Whole Foods Kahala on Oahu.

Some of what they grow: Avocados, bananas, beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cherry tomatoes, Chinese cabbage, citrus, collard greens, corn (sweet), curly kale, dragon fruit, eggplant, fennel, green beans, herbs, joi choi, Lacinato kale, lemon grass, lettuce, longon, lychee, around 30 varieties of mango, okra, papaya, raddicho, rambutan and taro.

CORN

Corn is America’s largest crop. There are county festivals built around it, it’s starred in movies (King of Corn), filled the pages of a book (The Story of Corn by Betty Fussell) and has been used to build the Corn Palace in South Dakota.

Not all corn is edible in its natural state, though. Genetically modified corn has to be processed into chips, taco shells, corn syrup (now called corn sugar) or ethanol before it can be consumed, or used to fuel cars. Eighty-five percent of American corn is genetically modified and used to make plastic bags, forks and spoons, even tees, as well as to fatten pigs, cows and chickens.

Conventionally grown (not always genetically modified) and organic corn is used for popcorn, corn on the cob, and sold as frozen kernels.

Corn is one of America’s iconic foods and one of the first things pilgrims learned to grow. Originating in Mesoamerica thousands of years ago, corn was the symbol of life itself.

There are many types of corn and if it’s fresh, it’s regarded as a vegetable, if it’s dried, it becomes a grain. Popcorn is a flint corn, with hard skin that traps moisture in the kernel. Sweet corn, which has a high concentration of natural sugar, is eaten fresh.

What to look for:

Choose organic corn whenever possible and don’t let a worm scare you if you find one inside. The alternative is heavily sprayed with chemicals. Leave the husk intact, to retain moisture, and feel if the kernels are filled out.

Storage:

Ned says his corn will last for weeks if it’s stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. Sugar turns the flesh hard and starchy the longer it sits, but fresh corn is juicy and sweet.

Tip:

Use corncobs to flavor stock. Line muffin tins with the husk, or leave them on the ear when grilling.

Preparation:

Fresh corn can be eaten raw, sautéed, boiled, roasted or grilled. It pairs well with butter, ghee, cream, chilies, basil, cilantro, dill, cumin, curry powder, lime, onions, leeks, scallions, tomatoes, peppers, and bacon as well as feta, cheddar, Monterey jack, Manchego and goat cheese.

Health benefits:

All varieties of corn, including white, yellow, blue, purple and red, are rich in antioxidants. Fiber in corn is well documented for its digestive benefits. Recent research has shown that corn can support the growth of friendly bacteria in the large intestine.

Corn’s B-complex vita-mins (B1, B5 and folic acid), fiber and its notable protein content (about 5-6 grams per cup) even out the pace of digestion, and help to prevent sudden spikes or drops in blood sugar.

Moloa`a Organica`a produce can be found at:

Farmers Market: Waipa (Tuesdays 2 to 4 p.m.), Kapaa (Wednesdays 3 to 4 p.m.), Kilauea (Thursdays 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.), Hanalei (Saturdays 9:30 a.m. to noon). Grocery: Harvest Market, Healthy Hut, Kilauea Town Market, Banana Joe’s, Westin Market, Hoku Foods, Papaya’s Natural Foods, Vim n’ Vigor, Living Foods Poipu, Kukuiula Market, Whole Foods Kahala on Oahu. Restaurants: Bar Acuda, The Garden Cafe, Hukilau Lanai, Duke’s, and Kilauea Fish Market. Call 651-1446.

CHEDDAR CORN FRITTERS

It’s easy to remove the kernels from fresh corn, just make sure to use a sharp knife. Cut the kernels from the ears and scrape the cob with a table knife to release all the milk, and add to the batter. Makes 8 fritters.

3 ears of corn, husked
1 Hawaiian chili pepper
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, grated
3/4 cup flour
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Vegetable oil for frying Slice off one end of corn. Firmly hold the ear upright on its cut end and slice away the kernels down the length of the cob. Repeat with remaining two ears. Mix corn through cheese in one bowl and ingredients above from flour through pepper in another. Stir until the batter is evenly moistened.

Pour vegetable oil into a skillet to a depth of 1/4 inch. Heat until it shimmers, about two minutes, and test with a kernel of corn. If it sizzles when dropped into the oil, the oil is ready. Use a scant quarter cup of batter per fritter and fry until golden brown, about two minutes per side.

Marta Lane is a Kaua’i-based food writer. For more information, visit TastingKauai.com.

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