Home Insteading With Cooperative Extension (Week 12)
4-H at Home
Camaryn Byrum, 4-H Agent
Jr. Chef’s Camp 2020
One of the highlights of the Chowan County 4-H summer is Jr. Chef’s Camp. Youth from across the county engage in a week of cooking with new foods, learning about food safety, and even participating in a Chopped Challenge. This class is taught by Mary Morris, Family and Consumer Sciences Agent, Patty Bowers, EFNEP Program Assistant, and Camaryn Byrum, 4-H Agent.
Due to the uncertainties of COVID-19, Chowan County 4-H Summer Fun programs will be offered virtually this year, including Jr. Chef’s Camp. Jr. Chef’s Camp will take place July 21–24 from 10:30 a.m.–noon daily via Zoom. Each morning will begin with a lesson on food safety, local foods, and kitchen etiquette. Following the lesson, youth will have the opportunity to make a kid-friendly recipe from the comfort of their own homes. N.C. Cooperative Extension of Chowan County staff will facilitate the daily lessons and recipes. Each participating youth will be given a supply kit that will contain all of the necessary ingredients, recipe cards, and kitchen utensils needed for the entire week. Kits will be delivered on Monday, July 20.
Registration for Jr. Chef’s Camp is currently open, but space is limited. This program is open to youth ages 9-12. Register online
Family and Consumer Sciences at Home
Mary Morris, Family and Consumer Sciences Agent
Sweet Corn, Summer Has Never Been Sweeter
Yesterday I went to the produce stand to buy some fresh produce and they had sweet corn! I love this time of year; Chowan County fresh produce is back. Check out the Farmers Market and local produce stands to get your sweet corn through the month of June. If you want to buy in bulk contact VA Fork Produce and you can buy corn by the crate. Sweet Corn is best eaten fresh but if you would like to enjoy it year-round you can preserve it so that it will keep that sweet flavor.
Sweet corn (Zea mays convar. saccharata var. rugosa) is a variety of maize with high sugar content. It is a tender annual which likes warm weather. It is picked when immature (milk stage) and eaten as a vegetable, rather than a grain. Since the process of maturation involves converting sugar into starch, sweet corn stores poorly and must be eaten fresh, canned, or frozen before the kernels become tough and starchy.
Corn can be preserved with equally good results by freezing or canning. Corn may also be dried. For best results, can or freeze corn within six hours of harvest. Select tender ears of corn with milky kernels. After husking and removing the silk, trim off the ends of the ears to remove small fibrous kernels. Wash corn before blanching.
A few things to keep in mind when pressure canning corn:
- Corn is a low acid food and must be processed in a pressure canner for safety.
- The high starch content in corn causes it to expand during processing. For this reason, pack corn loosely in the jar and allow one-inch headspace.
- Pack cream-style corn in only half-pint or pint jars.
- Corn may turn brown during processing because the very high temperature in the pressure canner may cause the sugar in the corn to caramelize. This happens more often with super sweet varieties and when kernels are immature. Processing at pressure higher than necessary increases browning. Browning does not affect the safety of the product.
- For more information on pressure canning email or call Mary Morris 252-482-6585 or email@example.com.
Whole kernel and cream style
- Blanch corn 4 minutes; cool ears and cut kernels from the cob as for canning.
- Another way to prepare cream style corn is to cut and scrape the corn from the cob without blanching. Then heat the cut corn in a double boiler, stirring constantly for about 10 minutes or until it thickens. Allow it to cool by placing the pan in ice water before packing and freezing.
- Freeze in moisture-vapor resistant bags or containers.
Corn on the cob
- Blanch 7 minutes for small ears, 9 minutes for medium ears, and 11 minutes for large ears.
- Chill immediately in ice water making sure that cobs are completely cold. If cobs are not cooled completely, they develop a “cobby” taste.
- Freeze in moisture-vapor resistant bags or containers.
- Partially thaw ears of corn before cooking.
Do you have to blanch corn to freeze it? Blanching stops enzyme reactions so that the corn does not continue the ripening process. If you have one of the super sweet varieties and use the unblanched corn within a month after freezing, you may not notice a difference. The longer the corn is in the freezer, the greater the difference in quality. For long-term storage, it is still best to blanch corn.
Storage and Preservation of Freshly Picked Sweet Corn – Field heat can be removed from ears by plunging them into ice-cold water (add a teaspoon each of bleach and lemon juice per gallon of water) for 15 minutes. Drain the ears and store them in the refrigerator (4 to 5 ears to one-gallon plastic bag) until ready to use. The corn of the newer types will remain sweet and fresh for 2 to 3 weeks.
For more information on growing your own sweet corn, see this publication:
Locations you can buy sweet corn
Bunches Produce Stand: 2820 Rocky Hock Rd, Edenton, NC 27932
Edenton Farmers Market: 200 N Broad St, Edenton, NC 27932
VA Fork Produce: (Buy Corn In Bulk) 719 Virginia Rd, Edenton, NC 27932
Horticulture at Home
Katy Shook, Area Horticulture Agent
Grasscycling Saves Time and Money
To remove, or not to remove grass clippings. The answer varies according to the situation. Some gardeners don’t like the look of excess clippings, and remove them regularly. Certain weather conditions may also discourage grasscycling. However, grasscycling (leaving the grass clippings on the lawn) can enhance the appearance, and save the homeowner time and money.
Grass clippings are made up of approximately 85% water and usually decompose quickly. While decomposing, the clippings add nutrients and organic matter back into the soil. As much as 25% of a lawn’s annual fertilizer needs can be supplemented by leaving the clippings. Most mowers have a recycling setting; make sure the blades are sharp for best results. Mow when the grass is dry and try to not remove more than one-third of the growth at a time. Different grasses have different management techniques. Centipedegrass and Common Bermudagrass perform best when cut to between 1 and 2 inches, while Tall Fescue, St Augustinegrass, and Zoysiagrass perform best when cut to around 3 inches.
In certain situations, it is almost impossible to stay on track with lawn care. Excessive rain and busy schedules prevent maintenance, and grasscycling may not be an option. If it’s been a while since the grass was last mowed, consider raising the height of the mower and sticking to the one-third rule while gradually decreasing the lawn back to the recommended height. Either remove, or spread excessive clumps. Clippings can also be composted or used as mulch (watch out for problem weeds that may carryover). Contrary to popular belief, grass clippings, when managed regularly do not result in thatch. However, grasscycling highly managed lawns with excessive growth, may lead to problems down the road.
For more information on lawn care, contact Katy Shook at 482-6585.