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Aug 7, 2007 03:57 PM

Corn at Jean Talon Market

couple of quick questions:

1. when is peak corn season (beginning and end) in the montreal/quebec region?
2. has the stall selling freshly boiled corn on the cob set up shop in jean talon market yet? or is this corn available all summer? regardless, what month(s) is the best time to get this corn?

reason i ask is b/c last year, we went up to montreal and had the juiciest, most delicious corn at this stand at jtm. it was sometime in september, and i was wondering if the corn is at its best at that time only, or if the peak season starts before then (i.e. august) and/or ends later (i.e. october).


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  1. Corn is everywhere at JTM these days!!! on saturday morning, you can small the hot corns, the butter, the salt !!!!!

    I'm not an expert, but I think this is the beginning of the season, there are couple of different varieties that spans couple of weeks, so you will have freash corn until the end of august (I think, I'm not an expert !)

    2 Replies
    1. re: Maximilien

      Hi, Lebron. We just ate the just-boiled corn on the cob today! We loved it! Our 3-year-old daughter lists it as one of her favorite things to eat, among cake and ice-cream. So, there you go...

      Oh, and by the way, what I know about the best time to eat corn is this: If you eat it VERY SOON after it's been picked (less than a day, I think), it's absolutely blissfully delicious and remarkably sweet, much tastier and sweeter than later on.

      1. re: Saffronpants

        It's true - the fresher, the better. The longer you wait to eat corn after it's picked, the more starchy and less sweet it becomes. Presumably everything at JTM is a day old at best!

    2. Though the problem with modern bicolour corn is that it is too sweet: I have seen all-yellow corn that is not so cloyingly sweet at the market, but haven't happened to notice any this year. In either case, it has a much better flavour fresh-picked. Now is definitely high fresh corn season.

      3 Replies
      1. re: lagatta

        Had some yellow corn -- very young -- from Robert Meunier (stall in the southern part of the westernmost allée) on Sunday. It should be more mature and abundant by this weekend.

        1. re: lagatta

          I haven't been looking for it yet, though I've noticed it out, none of it has looked overly appealing. I'll give a look around this weekend and pick some up.

          I commit the great sacrilege of cutting the corn off the cob and eating it with a fork. I hate the feeling of corn stuck in my teeth!

          1. re: phedre

            I can't eat it off the cob - too much dental work and fragile teeth. That is the case for many people over a certain age. It is tasty anyway.

        2. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe the season is mid-august to mid-september. Most corn bought after that tends to be mealy and flavourless. My family are corn crazy and my mom always waits for mid-august to do her first corn roast. She's says it's not worth paying through the nose for early or imported corn. I tend to agree with her.

          8 Replies
          1. re: SnackHappy

            The earliest corn I had this year was around the first week of July (!), from a roadside stand in Ste-Julienne. It was decent but not spectacular. And very small and young. I'd probably agree with your mom on corn *that* young.

            I've been buying very good, local (Rougemont, mainly), pesticide-free corn at JTM for the past couple of weeks.The first that was fully mature was about a week ago. As different varieties mature at different times, there should be a steady supply of good corn for the next month or so.

            As for the price... from memory the young yellow corn I bought on Sunday was $2 for nine rather small ears. The mature two-colour corn was around $5 for 13. I guess that's expensive compared to what we'll probably see in a couple of weeks, but I find it a reasonable price/pleasure ratio.

            Oh, and I also agree with your mom about imported corn -- never touch the stuff.

            1. re: Mr F

              thanks to everyone for the great tips! this was exactly what i was looking for.

              i'm planning on heading up to montreal in the next 2 weeks and have been dreaming about that corn since last year. glad to hear it'll be at its peak when i'll be up there.

              1. re: lebron

                Are you coming up from the States? If I were you I would take advantage of that and stop at a cornstand on the way up from the border rather than going to the market.

              2. re: Mr F

                I've been looking for Golden Bantam corn, and have yet to find it in Montreal - does anyone know if it's available here? It's typically found in the Prairie provinces, and it's amazingly sweet and intensely flavourful, and nothing I've tried here so far comes close.

                1. re: cherylmtl

                  I neglected to ask Mr. Meunier just what varieties he was selling on Sunday, so his yellow corn may or may not be what you're looking for. I will say that if it's going to be intense when mature it wasn't showing signs of it as of a few days ago...

                  1. re: cherylmtl

                    Have never encountered it here, only in the States. I wonder if we have a long enough growing season or enough degree days for Golden Bantam, at least on an industrial scale. It is wonderfully flavourful. Would also love to run across some Silver Queen, the best corn for soups like corn and lobster chowder.

                    1. re: carswell

                      According to today's Gazette, there are two purveyors of yellow corn at Atwater market. Am heading down there today - will report back.

                      1. re: swissfoodie

                        Had some yellow corn - it was definately sweeter and less starchy than the other varieties. I guess the best way to describe it is as the corn of my childhood...

              3. The early varieties are short on flavour. But even later in the summer the main problem -- as I've often lamented here and on that other board -- is the recent tidal wave of super sweet hybrids that has pushed traditional, less saccharine and far more flavourful varieties into virtual oblivion. My last attempt at a longtime summer favourite -- chilled corn soup -- was so sweet it tasted like dessert, not a first course.

                Last summer my remarks about this to several farmers, including a couple of organic farmers (who you'd think would be open to the idea), were met with disbelief (in one case, mocking disbelief). Now that heirloom tomatoes are a hit, it's time someone started work on corn. Until they do, I've stopped preparing it any way except grilled over charcoal, liberally doused with lime juice and sprinkled with cayenne salt (the lime juice is the key to cutting the sugar).

                Yet another example -- along with tomatoes, potatoes and apples -- of plant scientists eschewing tradition, eliminating variety and sacrificing flavour to merchandising concerns (higher sugar levels mean longer shelf life). Feh.

                5 Replies
                1. re: carswell

                  Julian Armstrong did a short piece in the Gazette today on the revival of yellow corn - she only mentioned the Atwater Market though. I won't eat the supersweet bicolour stuff - so much sugar in a starchy veg strikes me as very bad for the health in GI terms. And the real yellow corn is so much more flavourful!

                  Birri told me that they couldn't get the old golden bantam seeds any more, that those they can get had become modified and oversweet as well (for non-market regulars, Birri sells gardening supplies and seeds as well as vegetables in season).

                  1. re: lagatta

                    "Birri told me that they couldn't get the old golden bantam seeds any more, that those they can get had become modified and oversweet as well"

                    I don't understand what they mean. As googling will show, there are a number of Canadian heirloom seed purveyors that offer it, and the seeds can easily be imported from the US.

                  2. re: carswell

                    We made two passes through the Jean Talon Market on Sunday in search of corn that wasn't saccharine. Explained to several vendors what we were looking for, that we needed it for a savoury soup, that the supersweet varieties just wouldn't work. To a person, they looked at us like we were crazy. One vendor suggested we choose underripe ears. Another joked that maybe she should sell us the corn she feeds to her chickens. In short, based on this rather large sampling, local growers appear unaware that modern hybrids taste inferior, that anyone would do anything with cob corn other than boil it and eat it with butter or that there's a market for heirloom varieties, a market populated by people who would seek out purveyors and be willing to pay a premium for the product.

                    The in-a-rut mindset of local producers is one of more frustrating facts of Montreal life. How depressing is it that the selection of heirloom vegetables at, say, the tiny Raleigh (NC) farmers' market is far superior to that at the Jean Talon and Atwater markets combined?

                    All this has me wondering whether a few hounds shouldn't band together and approach a local grower, maybe even commission him/her to plant a few rows of Golden Bantam, Silver Queen or Early Sunglow, with the promise we'll get the word out when it's harvested and buy plenty of it, even pay more for it. A grower who sells at the market would be ideal, though one of the CSA farmers might be more open to the idea. Suggestions welcome.

                    As for the soup, we ended up buying corn from a vendor in the middle of the west side of the southern half of the easternmost allée. (Is that confusing enough?) She had "très sucré" silver and "un peu moins sucré" bicoloured corn. We bought the latter. The soup was OK, less sugary than last year's disaster, but too sweet and lacking in corn flavour -- in no way the "summer in a bowl" I've been hankering for. Actually, the leftovers were better the next day with a squirt of lime and a dollop of chipotle cream to cut the sweetness and add flavour. But it still didn't taste like summer in a bowl.

                    1. re: carswell

                      I would have to agree that local producers tend to be stuck in a rut. They are slowly starting to get their heads out of the sand, but it is a slow process. The corn issue is one such problem. I've also had trouble finding watermelon with seeds at the market a few weeks ago. There are now some producers selling regular watermelon at the market, but there is no question that seedless watermelon is much more popular and so the producers don't seem to like to carry the regular stuff. This sucks because the seedless watermelon isn't as tasty as seeded watermelon can be.

                      Things are slowly changing at JTM. I recall returning from the U.S. in 2002, looking for heirloom tomatoes. I had access to the most wonderful heirloom tomatoes in the U.S. But all I could find in Montreal were those gigantic beefsteak tomatoes, good, but not wonderful. When I asked about heirloom tomatoes, I got a lot of stares and jokes. In the last few years, it became easier to find other forms of tomatoes, and finally last year there was at least 2 producers providing heirloom tomatoes at JTM. Of course, the first green zebras I found were picked way too under ripe because they thought green zebras were green when ripe, when in fact you need to wait til they have some yellow tinge to them. The producers didn't seem to know any better. Now, the heirloom tomatoes are even starting to appear in some of the permanent stores.

                      So we are slowly making progress, but we need to continue to ask for quality produce, and let the producers know there is a market for this stuff. I don't know why there is such a delay in this province, but slowly slowly concepts like heirloom varieties are inching their way in.

                      1. re: carswell

                        I found some all-yellow corn that wasn't as cloying as that horrific peaches-and-cream crap, but still too sweet.

                        I've had much better luck with tomatoes, with some of the organic producers - but tomatoes are all dreadful this year. The former owners of Alfalfa are also small farmers and had interesting tomatoes, varieties of garlic etc, but they aren't at the market any more.

                        I made a kind of succotash with the corn and fresh fava beans - still too sweet.