Plovgh is a cooperative of farmers, growers, and ranchers that sell directly to their customers.
Laughing Loon Farm - Northfield, MN
Harvesting: Late August to mid October
Eggplants are botanically classified as a berry.
Eggplants are a species of nightshades - other nightshade crops include tomatoes and potatoes - that were originally domesticated in India. The plants have large, coarsely lobbed leaves with spiny stems. Their flowers are shades of white or purple. Eggplants are bulbous fruits and can be a range of shapes from oval, and egg-shapped to long and slender with shiny skin. The inside flesh is a milky color, with a meaty texture. Cultivated varieties of eggplant can be as small as 2 inch fairytale varieties up to 12 feet or longer.
Eggplant varieties vary in size (as small as your thumb to as large as your forearm), shape (oblong, round, slender), and coloring (white, bicolor, deep purple). Here are a couple types that farmer Danya at Laughing Loon Farm is harvesting this season:
Orient Express (Asian variety)
Skinny, delicate and a deep, shiny purple, Orient Express eggplants are an early variety, harvested up to 2 weeks before other plants. It has a tender flavor and cooks quickly. They have a high skin to flesh ratio which means they won’t fall apart as quickly when cut, making them ideal for stir fries, tempura or pickling.
Epic (Globe variety)
Globe eggplants, (also called American) are what typically comes to mind when you think eggplant. They are large, dark purple/black and have a wide, pear shape. Laughing Loon planted a Globe variety called Epic this season, which is thriving in the late summer heat. This variety tends to have tougher skin and more seeds than the thinner varieties making them a little more bitter. Globe eggplants are larger than Asian varieties with a meatier, spongy texture inside, which makes them good for grilling or roasting.
Because of their spongy flesh, eggplants can absorb oil more quickly than other vegetables while cooking. The folks over at Food52 recommend salting your eggplant before cooking to draw out the moisture, which also lessens their bitter flavor. You can find more helpful tips from the Food52 Hotline here. Let the roasting, grilling, sautéing and pureeing commence.
South Indian Pickled Eggplant (Green Kitchen Stories)
Stuffed Eggplant (La Tartine Gourmande)
Baba Ganoush (David Lebovitz)
Eggplant Chutney (What Katie Ate)
Sweet and Sour Stir-Fried Eggplant (Serious Eats)
Corn is a grain, not a vegetable. Sweet corn is the result of a naturally occurring recessive genetic mutation which controls conversion of sugar to starch inside the kernel.
Corn is an annual crop that requires fertile soil, consistent moisture and warm weather. Unlike field corn varieties, sweet corn is harvested early before the kernels are dry and mature. Sweet corn stores poorly and must be eaten fresh, canned, or frozen, before the kernels become tough and starchy. Growth of the plant happens in six stages: silking, kernel blister, kernel milk, kernel dough, kernel dent, and physiological maturity (photos here).
Sweet corn is rich in flavor. It can be milky and buttery. There are sweet corn hybrids that come in different levels of sweetness including, normal, sugar-enhanced, and supersweet.
Most commonly, the corn we eat has yellow and white kernels, but there are many more vibrantly colored varieties of corn.
Whether you prefer your sweet corn on the cob, raw, boiled or grilled your options are pretty endless. Also, Food52 has a good recipe for your corn ears, so don’t toss ‘em.
Ice cream, anyone?
Charred corn crepes
Coconut corn salad
Below is a snapshot of where Plovgh members are beginning to organize. Do you see your neighborhood or city or borough on the map? No? Well, here’s where to get started.
In the McVay family, Sunday night wouldn’t be complete without an enormous bowl of popcorn. It’s been happening that way for decades. After a day on horseback at the farm or at the end of a Minneapolis weekend, someone (usually Lizzy’s mama, Kita) pulls out the kettle, heats the oil, and drops the first kernel in. Once it pops, you know you’re on your way to goodness.
When Plovgh returned from Iowa farm visits with a case of Jim Fitkin’s yellow popping corn, Kita tried it out. She now swears by it, as does Lizzy, who thinks it has hints of Iowa prairie, much like her preferred drink, Templeton Rye. Here’s what you can do with the popcorn.
1. Get a bag of Jim Fitkin’s popping corn.
2. Cover the bottom of a saucepan or kettle with a thin layer of the oil of your choice.
3. Turn the stove on high heat.
4. Add a single kernel to the pot and cover.
5. Wait for the kernel to pop to indicate that the oil is sufficiently hot.
6. Cover the bottom of the pot with a single layer of popping corn.
7. Cover and gently shake the pot over the heat for a few minutes or until popping noises have ceased.
8. Transfer the popped corn to a bowl.
9. Add melted butter, olive oil, salt, pepper, rosemary, and cayenne as desired.