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Toledo Farmers Market

October 7, 2011
By Dawn Troutner, Market Master
TOLEDO CHRONICLE-Market Report for Sept. 23

Market started with nine vendors. The tables were proof that the gardens are still producing. Take time out of your busy schedule to visit the Toledo Farmers’ Market on Fridays from through October 28th.

I have started cleaning up the gardens. The watermelons are all harvested, the cabbage is all cut, some of the potatoes are dug, and hubby has started to harvest the popcorn.

I wasn’t sure what we would end up with after the July storms flattened the popcorn stalks. It did pop back up, but at a slant. The ears have been pretty full of kernels, although some of the ears have a bow to them.

Popcorn has been one of America’s favorite snack foods. There are two types of popcorn, pearl and rice. Pearl types have smooth and rounded kernels, while rice types have more elongated kernels.

Popcorn varieties are also available in red, pink, blue, yellow, and multi-colored ears. If you wondered, here is how a kernel pops.

Heating the kernel converts the moisture inside the kernel to steam and turns the seed inside out. The quality of the kernels depends on the conditions during growing, harvest, and storage.

When planting popcorn in the spring plant in several short rows. This ensures good pollination. Remember do not plant sweet corn in the same garden with popcorn. The quality of the sweet corn will be reduced if it is cross-pollinated by popcorn.

When you are ready to harvest, allow the kernels to dry in the field as long as possible. The kernels should be hard and the husks completely dry. After harvest remove the husks and place the ears in mesh bags and hang in a warm dry well-ventilated location.

The ideal moisture content for popcorn is between 13-14 percent. A couple times a weeks shell a few kernels and try popping them. If the test kernels are popping well and tasting good, shell and store the rest of the kernels.

If the popcorn is chewy or the popped kernels are jagged, it is too wet and needs to continue drying. Store the kernels in sealed, airtight containers. If you store the popcorn properly, it should retain its popping quality for several years.

If the stored popcorn fails to pop, it may be too dry. Add 1 tablespoon of water to quart of popcorn. Cover and shake until the popcorn absorbs the water.

If you have never had home grown popcorn you don’t know what you are missing. There is a vendor at the Toledo Farmers’ Market who sells the popcorn they grow. Their popcorn has State Fair blue ribbon winning kernels.

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