July 20th-22nd 2020 – KING CORN – part I

Carol and Ido, the super bakers of Ish Shel Lechem Bakery, joyfully introduce these delectable products newly added to their menu:

  • In the Savory Department: Whole wheat spelt and olive oil sticks with nigella and sesame, long Abadi-style cookies, whole wheat, vegan and very addictive!

Ingredients: 100% whole wheat organic spelt flour, cold-pressed olive oil, organic whole sesame seeds, nigella, baking powder, sea salt.

200-gram package: 24.50 NIS.

  • In the Cookie Department: Teff Sugar-Free Cookies, sweetened with organic agave syrup and seasoned with cinnamon. The perfect biscuit to go with your tea or coffee (or summer shake), especially for those who avoid gluten and sugar. (Agave has a very low glycemic value).

Important: The Teff Cookies are baked in a gluten environment and include oats. Like all our gluten-free products, they are not recommended for celiac sufferers. Ingredients: teff flour, organic oats, tapioca flour, natural ground coconut, organic agave syrup, ground cinnamon, organic sunflower oil, baking soda.

~215-gram package: 35 shekels

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cornsky

For some time now, your boxes have proudly contained the king of summer, his royal highness The Corn. Every year it accompanies us from June to November, joins us as we bid the schoolyear farewell, enjoys our summer vacation and then goes back to school with us come fall. In essence, the corn crop begins to ripen in June, when the weather turns warm but still has an occasional breezy day, moves headlong into the intolerable heat of July-August and the heatwaves of September, breathes a sigh of relief in October, and makes certain that moderate weather has returned before saying goodbye in November. Now that’s what I call a king!

Corn is probably one of the first crops the Americans learned to grow. Approximately 7,000 years ago, some gleaners (probably Mayan women, or women of a neighboring tribe in Central America) noticed a spontaneous mutant among the weeds, a teosinte, with a cob that was longer and filled with seeds that were larger than your average ancient weed. Something sparked their intuition, and they tasted it – to their great delight. They also discovered that seeds which fell to the ground sprouted and became a mature plant that yielded more cobs. After some time, they learned that if they kept and seeded the better seed varieties, the next crop would be even more improved!

To your left is the olden corn, and to your right is its current cultured variety:

At the next stage, they (no longer gleaners, but now also farmers) discovered that if they grow corn, beans and squash, they could actually make a decent basic diet out of them. The plants also grew well together: the corn acted as a supporting pole for the bean to climb upon, and the squash grew on the earth as live mulch, preventing weeds and keeping in the moisture.

This threesome, which earned the title “the three sisters,” is an excellent example of the plant guild/community: a group of plants which become valuable when they grow together. The key to their success is the positive reciprocal relationship among them: each plant contributes to its neighbors, and receives from the neighbors in return. And just like human communities, a good plant guild is a more independent entity, stronger, healthier and easier to maintain than growing plants which are not connected to one another. This agricultural development proved to be so time-efficient that it gave the growers enough spare moments to build houses, weave rugs and baskets, develop astronomy and math, and of course – party…

Today, corn is one of the only crops which cannot reproduce without a human helping hand, as it requires the planting of separate seeds in order to sprout.

In various languages, corn was granted venerable names. The first to bring corn to Europe were the Spanish, who gave it a name from the native Taino: mahis in Taino, maize in Spanish. The meaning in Taino is “the seed that gives life.” The Latin name continued this theme, calling it Zea (“life giver”) Mays.

Only when the wonder vegetable emigrated to Europe did it receive its dull, listless name “corn” that was a generic term for grains (even salt grains, hence “corned beef”), and the derogatory titles “Turkey wheat,” “Turkey/Egyptian corn,” or “Indian corn.” Apparently they were not referring to the origins of the grain, but rather making a social comment that this was an uncultivated, wild, barbaric grain, as compared to “polite” cultured European grains.

The Hebrew name tiras was chosen based on the English “Turkey corn,” or the Yiddish equivalent Tirkishe VeitzenIn an old nature book, The Genesis of Learning, Baruch Linda describes “Turkey wheat” (חטי טורקיא) as “a grain with yellowish round seeds… each plant containing three towers, each tower or stalk containing two hundred and forty adhered seeds.”

So how did the Hebrew tiras derive from the Turkey? The word tiras is mentioned in the Bible in the books of Genesis and Chronicles. Tiras was Jefeth’s seventh son (Noah’s grandson). Scholars identified Tiras as the father of the Turkish nation (Tractate Yoma), which is why the “Turkish” grain was granted this name.

In a letter from 1912, Naomi Shapiro of the Kvutzat Kineret settlement described an agricultural summer festival of the day: “We left from Sejera at 5:00 AM in six carts with Hebrew and Turkish flags. Nature was impeccably beautiful and thus we arrived in Kineret within two hours, singing and clapping our hands… All sorts of vegetables were displayed from the various farms and moshavot, beans and peas and beets, tiras wheat, pumpkins, squashes, bandoras, cucumbers, grains and wheat – all neatly arranged…” Over the years, the “wheat” was dropped, leaving only the tiras.

Its lackluster name certainly does not reflect the sweet, positive nature of this wonderful grain, upon which the world of South American natives was once so dependent. And perhaps the come-down of the name from “life giving” to “wild grain” somewhat reflects the devaluation of this outstanding plant in the Western world.

Native Americans used the corn in a variety of ways. They ate it fresh or cooked, dried the cob and ground it into flour, ground the fresh kernels to make the moist corn porridge Polenta, decorated their homes with colorful corn, popped the kernels for popcorn, fed the cobs to animals, etc. Each part of the corn plant had its advantages and uses. The corn stem poles were used for building, fishing and more, and the corn silk to treat kidney ailments. They weaved mats and baskets and crafted masks, moccasins, and dolls:

Today, too, we are dependent upon corn in every realm, especially food: Almost every processed food contains corn, but corn of a very limited genetically-engineered variety that appears in its processed, worn and abused form, totally bereft of nutritional value, and of course, a product which demands an excessive exertion of energy.

We use corn starch for thickening and gluing, and corn syrup for sweetening. Expansion materials, emulsifiers, food coloring, and citric acid are all are derived from corn, as are most of the animal fodder in the meat industry. Corn also serves a role in the production of plastic and oil. (If you wish to learn more about corn and food in our world, I highly recommend Michael Pollan’s book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma.)

But for all its many uses, there is nothing like simply sinking your teeth into a fresh ear of corn. There are those who do not trust the Kashrut of corn. They fear that tiny insects lying within the corn silk will find their way into the kernels, becoming impossible to detect and remove.  Dror once told me that he heard from a “Sunfrost” mashgiach (kashruth supervisor) how to deal with this matter. According to him, the bugs run towards the cob when they are exposed to light, as the corn is peeled and its silk removed. The solution is simple and creative: peel the corn in the dark! This way, the bugs remain in the silk and get tossed to the compost. You are more than welcome to try this out at home…

Wishing everyone a great week,

Alon, Bat Ami, Dror, Orin and the entire Chubeza team

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WHAT’S JOINING THE CORN IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Zucchini, lettuce, corn, melon/watermelon, cucumbers, tomatoes, New Zealand spinach/basil/Swiss chard, acorn squash/ Amoro pumpkin/ butternut squash/slice of pumpkin, parsley/coriander, eggplant/potatoes, scallions/onions.

Large box, in addition: Cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, lubia yard-long beans/okra.

FRUIT BOXES: Mango, bananas, pears, grapes.

Wednesday: Zucchini, lettuce, corn, melon/watermelon, cucumbers, tomatoes, New Zealand spinach/basil/Swiss chard, acorn squash/ Amoro pumpkin/ butternut squash, parsley/coriander, eggplant/potatoes, scallions/onions.

Large box, in addition: Cherry tomatoes, bell peppers/slice of pumpkin/okra, lubia yard-long beans.

FRUIT BOXES: Mango, bananas, pears, grapes.

August 27th-29th 2018 – Pop goes our special treat!

In honor of the Tishrei holidays – changes in deliveries

Over the week of Rosh Hashanah:
♦ 
No Monday deliveries (for some of you, we will unfortunately be unable to deliver your vegetable box that week at all).
Monday deliveries to Modi’in, Ramat Gan, Givatayim, Bikat Ono, Rehovot, Nes Ziona, Rishon L’Zion, Mazkeret Batya, Beit Shemesh area, Kfar Bin Nun and some of the Tel Aviv neighborhoods will be transferred to Thursday, September 13th.
A message will be sent to all of you on the Monday line who will be receiving on Thursday.
♦ All Wednesday deliveries will take place Thursday, September 13th.

Over the week of Yom Kippur:
♦ Monday deliveries as usual (Sep 17th).
♦ Wednesday deliveries will be moved to Thursday, September 20th

During Chol HaMoed Sukkot: There will be no deliveries, thus there will be no boxes on Monday and Wednesday, the 24th and 26th of September .

Over the week of Simchat Torah:
♦ Monday deliveries move to Tuesday, October 2
♦ Wednesday (October 3) deliveries as usual.

Back to normal schedule during the week after Sukkot and Simchat Torah.

If you wish to increase your vegetable boxes before the holidays, please advise as soon as possible.

 

Open Day at Chubeza
In keeping with our twice-yearly tradition, we invite you for a Chol HaMoed “pilgrimage” to Chubeza to celebrate our Open Day.
The Sukkot Open Day will take place on Thursday, September 27, the 18th of Tishrei (third day of Chol HaMoed)between 12:00-5:00 PM.

The Open Day gives us a chance to meet, tour the field, and nibble on vegetables and other delicacies. Children have their own tailor-made tours designed for little feet and curious minds, plus special activities and a vast space to run around and loosen up. (So can the adults…)

Driving instructions are on our website under “Contact Us.” Please make sure you check this before heading our way.

Wishing you a Chag Sameach and Shana Tova. We look forward to seeing you all!

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A new and sweet Hebrew year is in the offing, to be perfectly enhanced by Tomer and Chamutal’s juices (apple, pear) and their pear cider. Here’s their latest message from Kibbutz Tzuba:

Every autumn, we wait to be told that the great heat is almost behind us and relief is on the way.  Meanwhile, an astounding collection of tall squills are forever surprising us with their beautiful white blossoms just as we enter Tzuba. But they’re not the only ones telling us time is moving along – there is also the gentle afternoon breeze or an occasional grey cloud. Even here, in the Jerusalem hills, summer weariness is evident. The early fruit harvest is already reaching an end, including the white grapes, nectarines, pears and yellow (“delicious”) apples.
In honor of the season changing, Rosh Hashanah and the approaching holiday season, may we suggest our apple or pear juice, our alcoholic apple or pear ciders, our apple vinegar, and assortment of jams: apple, nectarine or pear in wine.
Everything is 100% natural, hand-produced by us. All of our products have no additives or preservatives – they jump from the orchards straight into our bottles.

This week we already have our pear juice and pear cider, to go with our apple cider, vinegar and jams available all year long. Apple juice is coming shortly. You can add all this and more to your boxes via our order system.

And as tradition dictates, we are offering beautiful holiday gift packages:
For hosts – a refreshing addition to the concept of apple in honey and a great supplement to the holiday meal and cooking.
For guests – a great gift to bring along.
In step with Chubeza’s local network, Tomer and Chamutal cooperate with an excellent chocolatier and a close friend, Ya’ara Kalmanovich, adding her delectable delicacies to their holiday packages – exquisite handmade pralines.
A holiday package for two: 1 liter glass bottle of natural apple juice, a six-pack of alcoholic cider, a small praline assortment (6 pieces), 250 ml apple vinegar/jam of your choice (pear in wine/apple/nectarine): 155 NIS
A family package: 1 liter glass bottle of natural apple juice and 1 liter glass bottle of organic pear juice, a six-pack of alcoholic cider, a large praline  assortment (13 pieces), jam of your choice (pear in wine/apple/nectarine) and 250 ml apple vinegar: 202 NIS
The factory and its products are supervised by the “Tzohar” kashrut authority.

Chag Sameach from “Tomer and Chamutal’s Apples” –  054-4733051

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Pop Goes Our Special Treat!

Stop!! Before you’re so overcome with sorrow over the shriveled, hard-as-rock corn in your box this week that you thrust the kernels in a pot to be cooked forever and ever, or crack your crowns while attempting to bite into them, read on for the True Story Behind the Kernels!

Traditionally, the end of each summer heralds the popcorn season. Over the next few weeks, you will be receiving smaller and stiffer corn cobs than usual. Don’t toss them out figuring Chubeza’s crop went bad this week. These are actually rare, delectable treats. It’s popcorn!

To celebrate this joyous corn creation, we are proud to present our traditional Popcorn Newsletter. Settle back in your chairs and enjoy the show!

Back around 3500 BC in a cave in North America (somewhere central-west of today’s New Mexico), the guys were hanging out together, glued to the TV of the era, the blazing campfire. As the flames danced and brought joy to their hearts, they had to nosh on something. But for reasons that remain shrouded in mystery, they somehow did not polish off everything from their plates. Remains of that late-night-nosh were discovered over 5000 years later by archaeologists in 1948, in what became known as world’s oldest popcorn. (It still looked quite crunchy and yummy, but a tad too stale to nibble on.)

The popcorn is indeed a special species of corn, small and hard. They were seeded in March along with the first round of corn, but after the plants grew dark red-bearded cobs, we cut off their water and allowed the cobs, smaller than the sweet corn variety, to fully mature and dry on the stalk. Last week we picked the dry, hard cobs and stored them in our warehouse for further drying and hardening. How wonderful to munch on food that bears a history of thousands of years of noshing!

Popcorn comes in many colors and forms. Here are a few of them:

A particularly cute type is strawberry popcorn, which looks like this:

Native Americans used popcorn even before they discovered the corn we know and love so well. They probably fell onto popcorn by chance, as some random kernel rolled into the fire and suddenly popped. This surely led to attempts to reenact the wonder, and later to make it an institution. In ancient times, they would roast the popcorn by heating the cobs over a direct flame or in a pit in the ground filled with sand and heated to a high temperature. The cobs were placed into the pit whole, and the kernels would pop on the cob, wrapped in its sheaf and protected from the sand. Prehistoric cooks also made special utensils to roast this snack, clay pots with feet to place atop the fire.

Primeval Americans used the popcorn not only as nosh. They made soup and beer out of it, and used popcorn as a decoration in ritual ceremonies as well as for jewelry and head ornaments. Tlaloc, the Aztec God of Rain and Fertility, was adorned with popcorn-string necklaces, and the God of Water and Protector of Fishermen would receive an offering of “hailstones” made from popcorn. Europeans who arrived ashore were also welcomed with gifts of popcorn necklaces, and to this day there are those who decorate their Christmas trees with fresh, aromatic popcorn.

One modern, non-conventional popcorn-based attempt—which ultimately failed—was to use popcorn as an ecological, biodegradable substitute for Styrofoam packing material. You must admit that this is a very captivating idea, yet sadly the popcorn’s natural appeal attracted insects and other pests and organisms to the party. The popcorn completely lost its beneficial packing qualities when wet, and was prone to flammability. Alas.

Popcorn, or in its scientific name, Zea mays averta, is a subspecies of flint corn. Flint corn got its name from its hard-as-rock shell, one of the required components for popping. Also required are a proper level of humidity and a high level of starch within the kernel. Due to the kernel’s hard shell, when it’s heated, the moisture locked inside turns to steam and the pressure builds up. The starch inside the kernel gelatinizes and becomes soft and pliable. The pressure continues to mount until reaching the breaking point of the hull:  the steam forcefully explodes, exposing the soft starch. The starch expands and dries rapidly to become the dry, crispy, puffy foam we call popcorn.

Watch this movie demonstrating the process in very dramatic slo-mo

Some Tips:

– For the foam to dry quickly, place the kernels in a pot in a thin layer to create crispy popcorn that will not reabsorb the moisture from the pot.

– FYI, popped popcorn kernels expand exponentially beyond their original size. Two tablespoons of raw popcorn kernels produce 2 ½ cups of the popped product!

– In its natural form, popcorn is an excellent choice for a healthy snack. Air-popped popcorn is naturally high in dietary fiber, low in calories and fat, and is both sodium and sugar free. This, of course, relates to clean, fresh popcorn, minus the addition of butter and oil, salt or caramel that transform it from a handsome prince to a scary toad.

Storage: Popcorn kernels might look tough, but they won’t stay that way unless you treat them properly. Storing popcorn in the fridge may dry it out or make it too moist to allow popping. Best to keep popcorn kernels in a dry, dark cupboard away from heat, moisture and light. It is advisable to separate the kernels from the cob and store in sealed jar, ceramic container or sealed tin.

Here is how you do it, starring: Chubeza Popcorn as himself, AND Talia’s hands, the hands which rock the Chubeza website. (Talia doubles as our website-wizard…)

Making quality popcorn is an art in itself. The quality and quantity of the popping depends on the rate at which the kernels are heated. If heated too quickly, they’ll explode before the starch in the center of the kernel can fully gelatinize, leading to half-popped kernels with hard centers (formerly the hull). The tip of the kernel, where it attached to the cob, is more sensitive than the rest of the hull. Heating too slowly will crack the tip and allow steam to escape, preventing the build-up of pressure and the ultimate popping. In the past, making popcorn in a pot was a task that required training, specialization, and great skill. In today’s era of the microwave and automatic popcorn-popper, everything is so much simpler, but still it’s a good idea to put aside a few kernels and try the old-fashioned popping method of yesteryear.

Popping Instructions:

In microwave: Place small quantity of kernels (approximately 2 T) into a paper bag you received in your box (make sure it’s dry and not torn), and fold the edge of bag to seal. (At last: a way to re-use those paper bags!) Set timer for 2-3 minutes, and listen carefully. After a few seconds the kernels will start popping loudly, setting the bag into a lively, throbbing rumba. When 3 seconds without any popping have elapsed, remove paper bag from the microwave. Caution! It’s hot. Make a small opening for ventilation; allow steam to escape, and then cool. Add the seasoning of your choice and nosh away.

In a pot: (from the website of Kibbutz Sha’ar Hagolan)

You will need: Popcorn. A pot. Oil.

We all know the black and sooty telltale spots shamefully lining the pots, reminding us of unsuccessful popcorn, or the sad “old maids,” the un-popped kernels that will never receive another chance.

Here’s how to avoid these embarrassing failures, step by step:

The Pot: Use a wide, tall pot so the kernels have room to expand.

The rule is 3 T oil for each ½ – ¾ cup of popcorn. The oil should cover the bottom of the pot and coat each kernel. (You can combine oil and butter, if desired.)
Step 1: Pour the oil and wait a bit till it warms up. (Can use one or two kernels to test.) When oil-bubbles form around kernel, it’s time to start.
Question: Should we toss the kernels?
A: In the beginning of the process, you can give the pan a little shake to arrange the kernels in one layer and for the oil to cover.
Step 2: Leave the kernels on medium heat. When you start hearing the first to pop, lower the flame.
(Babysitter: Keep an eye on them. This is no time to check your email.)
Listen to the sound of the popping kernels. When the popping diminishes, it’s time to turn off the flame. Do not open the pot till you hear the silence of the all-popped popcorn.

Best wishes to all for a great summer-end and a wonderful New Year,

Alon, Bat Ami, Dror, Yochai and the Chubeza team

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Bell peppers, corn, Thai yard-long beans, okra/onions, cucumbers, tomatoes, slice of pumpkin/butternut squash, popcorn, potatoes/sweet potatoes, parsley/coriander, eggplant.

Large box, in addition: Garlic/scallions, cherry tomatoes, New Zealand spinach.

FRUIT BOXES: Mango, pears, apples, pomegranate

Wednesday: Bell peppers, corn, Thai yard-long beans, okra/onions/scallions, cucumbers, tomatoes, slice of pumpkin, popcorn, potatoes/sweet potatoes, parsley/coriander, eggplant.

Large box, in addition: Garlic/butternut squash, cherry tomatoes, New Zealand spinach.

FRUIT BOXES: Mango, apples, pomegranate. Small boxes: pears. Large boxes: peaches.

August 20th-22nd 2018 – GOLDEN SLUMBERS – KING CORN PART II

At Chubeza, we begin seeding corn (known by its more honorable, original name as “Mahis) at the end of March. The first two seeding rounds are one month apart. A short two-three weeks later it’s time for the next round of seeding,   followed two weeks hence by yet the next round. Then begins a weekly seeding schedule. The reason for this motion is the change in seasons and the rising summer temperatures. If the first round needed between 100-110 days to reach ripeness, the last rounds ripen within 80-90 days. Thus, these intervals between seeding rounds allow us to distribute sweet, juicy ears of corn in your boxes every week, or maximum every fortnight.

In each Chubeza corn seeding, we insert two beds (4 rows) of hard wrinkled yellow seeds into the earth. When I say we “insert” them, I mean it, because after many attempts to use a seeder, we realized that the best method is still to do it by hand. We notch furrows in the earth and scatter the seeds at a distance of 10-15 cm apart.  Afterwards, we cover the furrow, water it, and start praying for healthy growth.

After the initial sprouting, the corn grows rapidly, producing tall, strong, erect stalks that you can actually get lost in. At a farm where I worked in California, each year they would plant a huge corn maze where everyone, young and old, would love to get lost in during the October Halloween festival. At Chubeza, a group of kids decided to find out what it feels like to enter the corn bed jungle:

corn4    corn2

corn1    corn3

Because of the short spans of time between seedings, a tour of the field reveals corn beds of varying heights, from 20 cm munchkins, through 50, 80 and 150 cm tall guys, all the way to towering stalks of 2 meters and more! Even the plants that have already been harvested and are currently retired are in no hurry to migrate to Miami, but rather stand there yellowing away in the summer sunshine. (I harbor a special fondness for them…)

IMG_0213

The type of corn Chubeza grows belongs to the “super-sweet” variety (Sh2). True to its name, this corn is indeed super and sweet. Who would have believed that such incredibly tasty corn is actually the result of a mutation! And before you ask – I do not mean a genetic-engineered mutation (perish the thought), but rather one which occurred naturally, in the field, far away from sterile labs, and consequently developed by simple hybridization just like any other hybrid seeds. Here’s how this works:

Most of the corn seeded in the world is not even sweet (field/dent corn), but is produced primarily for animal fodder, for cornflour production, and for industrial uses such as ethanol for gas, the plastic industry, corn oil and various other additives. This field corn is actually the ancient corn variety that was grown in Southern and Central America thousands of years ago.

A primary advantage of corn is that it is unstable. It is a crop that is genetically sensitive to mutations and changes that occur in nature, in its genetic composition, which makes it an honored guest within the annals of scientific research (corn plants were instrumental in reaching some of the most important discoveries in genetics, like the Transposons) and a huge variety of corn types – in different colors, shapes and sweetness. Here are some examples:

Cornvarieties

Sweet corn has been known in Western civilization since 1770. It is not clear when this natural mutation first occurred, but it caused the storing of a double amount of sugar in the storage tissue (endosperm) of the seed. There are hundreds of sweet corn varieties in this group, and it is the common form of fresh corn (on the cob) here in Israel. But this sweetness lives on borrowed time – corn is a cereal crop, and thus from the moment it ripens and is picked from the stalk, an internal process occurs whereby the sugars turn to starch. During this process, corn loses its sweetness and becomes powdery and starchy, thus corn that is eaten more than 3 or 4 days from harvest loses a great deal of its sweetness.

Over the past few decades, two other groups of corn were developed, both based on mutants that occurred naturally which were then carefully developed to create stable varieties for agricultural use. One is the “sugar enhanced” (SE) corn, boasting higher sugar content than traditional sweet corn, which is why when refrigerated it retains sweetness 2-4 days after harvest. The second group is the Super-Sweet corn (Sh2), three times sweeter than the other varieties. And most important here, the process of the sugar-transforming-to-starch is much slower, allowing it to remain sweet up to ten days after harvest (when refrigerated). This has, of course, many advantages, specifically when dealing with export to distant markets — but the Chubeza family has the chance to enjoy these nice mutants on the same day they are picked: triply sweet and fresh!

If you cook our corn, this sweet treat blends perfectly with so many flavors: salty, spicy, and sour ingredients all add a distinctive, complementary savor. But really, the best way to enjoy this corn is by simply cooking it in water for a few minutes and then biting right into the fresh cobs. Take a look at our recipe section for some intriguing non-standard uses for the sweet king of summer.

Here’s to a sweet and summery week, and don’t forget to drink!

Alon, Bat Ami, Yochai, Dror and the entire Chubeza team
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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S SUMMERY BOXES?

Monday: Bell peppers, New Zealand spinach, Thai yard-long beans, butternut squash, onions/cucumbers, tomatoes, garlic/scallions, cherry tomatoes, potatoes, parsley/coriander, eggplant.

Large box, in addition: Slice of pumpkin, okra, corn.

FRUIT BOXES: Red grapes, mango, pear, banana

Wednesday: Bell peppers, New Zealand spinach, Thai yard-long beans, butternut squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions/garlic/scallions, cherry tomatoes, , corn, parsley/coriander, eggplant.

Large box, in addition: Slice of pumpkin, okra, potatoes/sweet potatoes.

FRUIT BOXES: Small: Grapes, pear, banana/pomegranate, peach. Large: mango, pears, peach, plum.

August 13th-15th 2018 – KING CORN – part I

cornsky

For some time now, your boxes have proudly contained the king of summer, his royal highness The Corn. Every year it accompanies us from June to November, joins us as we bid the schoolyear farewell, enjoys our summer vacation and then goes back to school with us come fall. In essence, the corn crop begins to ripen in June, when the weather turns warm but still has an occasional breezy day, moves headlong into the intolerable heat of July-August and the heatwaves of September, breathes a sigh of relief in October, and makes certain that moderate weather has returned before saying goodbye in November. Now that’s what I call a king!

Corn is probably one of the first crops the Americans learned to grow. Approximately 7,000 years ago, some gleaners (probably Mayan women, or women of a neighboring tribe in Central America) noticed a spontaneous mutant among the weeds, a teosinte, with a cob that was longer and filled with seeds that were larger than your average ancient weed. Something sparked their intuition, and they tasted it – to their great delight. They also discovered that seeds which fell to the ground sprouted and became a mature plant that yielded more cobs. After some time, they learned that if they kept and seeded the better seed varieties, the next crop would be even more improved!

To your left is the olden corn, and to your right is its current cultured form:

At the next stage, they (no longer gleaners, but now also farmers) discovered that if they grow corn, beans and squash, they could actually make a decent basic diet out of them. The plants also grew well together: the corn acted as a supporting pole for the bean to climb upon, and the squash grew on the earth as live mulch, preventing weeds and keeping moisture in.

This threesome, which earned the title “the three sisters,” is an excellent example of the plant guild/community: a group of plants who become valuable when they grow together. The key to their success is the positive reciprocal relationship between them: each plant contributes to its neighbors, and receives from the neighbors in return. And just like human communities, a good plant guild is a more independent entity, stronger, healthier and easier to maintain then growing plants which are not connected to one another. This agricultural development proved to be so time-efficient that it gave the growers enough spare moments to build houses, weave rugs and baskets, develop astronomy and math, and of course – party…

Today, corn is one of the only crops which cannot reproduce without a human helping hand, as it requires the planting of separate seeds in order for the plant to sprout.

In various languages, corn was granted venerable names. The first to bring corn to Europe were the Spanish, who gave it a name from the native Taino: mahis in Taino, maize in Spanish. The meaning in Taino is “the seed that gives life.” The Latin name continued this theme, calling it Zea (life giver) mays.

Only when the wonder vegetable emigrated to Europe did it receive its dull, listless name “corn” that was a generic name for grains (even salt grains, hence “corned beef”), and the derogatory titles “Turkey wheat,” “Turkey/Egyptian corn,” or “Indian corn.” Apparently they were not referring to the origins of the grain, but rather making a social comment that this was an uncultivated, wild, barbaric grain, as compared to “polite” cultured European grains.

The Hebrew name tiras was chosen based on the English “Turkey corn,” or the Yiddish equivalent Tirkishe Veitzen. In an old nature book, The Genesis of Learning, Baruch Linda describes “Turkey wheat” (חטי טורקיא) as “a grain with yellowish round seeds… each plant containing three towers, each tower or stalk containing two hundred and forty adhered seeds.”

So how did the Hebrew tiras derive from the Turkey? The word tiras is mentioned in the Bible in the books of Genesis and Chronicles. Tiras was Jefeth’s seventh son (Noah’s grandson). Scholars identified Tiras as the father of the Turkish nation (Tractate Yoma), which is why the “Turkish” grain was granted this name.

In a letter from 1912, Naomi Shapiro of Kvutzat Kineret described an agricultural summer festival of the day: “We left from Sejera at five AM in six carts with Hebrew and Turkish flags. Nature was impeccably beautiful and thus we arrived in Kineret within two hours, singing and clapping our hands… All sorts of vegetables were displayed from the various farms and moshavot, beans and peas and beets, tiras wheat, pumpkins, squashes, bandoras, cucumbers, grains and wheat – all neatly arranged…” Over the years, the “wheat” was dropped, leaving only the tiras.

Its lackluster name certainly does not reflect the sweet, positive nature of this wonderful grain, upon which the world of South American natives was once so dependent. And perhaps the come-down of the name from “life giving” to “wild grain” somewhat reflects the devaluation of this outstanding plant in the Western world.

Today, too, we are dependent upon corn in every realm, especially food: Almost every processed food contains corn, but corn of a very limited genetically-engineered variety that appears in its processed, worn and abused form, totally bereft of nutritional value, and of course, a product which demands an excessive exertion of energy.

We use corn starch for thickening and gluing, and corn syrup for sweetening. Expansion materials, emulsifiers, food coloring, and citric acid are all are derived from corn, as well as most of the animal fodder in the meat industry. Corn also serves a role in the production of plastic and oil. (If you wish to learn more about corn and food in our world, I highly recommend Michael Pollan’s book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma.)

But for all its many uses, there is nothing like simply sinking your teeth into a fresh ear of corn. There are those who do not trust the Kashrut of corn. They fear that tiny insects lying within the corn silk will find their way into the kernels, becoming impossible to detect and remove.  Dror once told me that he heard from a “Sunfrost” mashgiach (kashruth supervisor) how to deal with this matter. According to him, the bugs run towards the cob when they are exposed to light, as the corn is peeled and its silk removed. The solution is simple and creative: peel the corn in the dark! This way, the bugs remain in the silk and get tossed to the compost. You are more than welcome to try this out at home…

Wishing everyone a great week,

Alon, Bat Ami, Dror, Yochai and the entire Chubeza team

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WHAT’S JOINING THE CORN IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Bell peppers, slice of pumpkin, Thai yard-long beans, cucumbers, okra/onions, tomatoes, corn, cherry tomatoes, butternut squash, parsley/coriander, New Zealand spinach.

Large box, in addition: Eggplant, scallions, potatoes.

FRUIT BOXES: Pears, nectarines, mango. Small boxes only: Bananas Large box only: Grapes

Wednesday: Bell peppers, slice of pumpkin, Thai yard-long beans/garlic, cucumbers, onions, tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, butternut squash, parsley/coriander, New Zealand spinach, eggplant/potatoes.

Large box, in addition: Okra, corn, scallions.

FRUIT BOXES: Pears, grapes, mango. Small boxes only: Bananas Large box only: plums

King Corn – Part 2! – July 10th-12th 2017

The excellent Iza Pziza dairy in Tal Shachar is pleased to invite you for a visit and activities over the summer. You will meet the goats and kids in the pen, try your hand at your very own cheese-making, and sample all the dairy goodies. What a great activity for a hot summer day!

See more details here.

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One last dance before we say goodbye…

After a fruitful collaboration (sometimes a pun is just – well – perfect…) of several years, we will bid farewell to Helaf and Melo Hatene fruit boxes. The last fruit boxes will be delivered Wednesday, July 12th.

You will still be able to purchase Melo Hatene tahini and coffee via our order system.

We wish to thank Helaf, the very devoted head of Melo Hatene, for years of partnership. Melo Hatene is still active, and you are more than welcome to visit and enjoy all its abundance and unique beauty. The diverse farm hosts a fruit orchard, olive press, apiary, as well as locally ground sesame and coffee. A great place to visit and enjoy.

Take a look

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King Corn – Part 2!

In every Chubeza corn seeding, we insert two beds (4 rows) of hard wrinkled yellow seeds into the earth. When I say we “insert” them, I mean it, because after many attempts to use a seeder, we realized that the best method is still to do it by hand. We notch furrows in the earth and scatter the seeds at a distance of 10-15 cm apart.  Afterwards, we cover the furrow, water it, and start praying for healthy growth.

After the initial sprouting, the corn grows rapidly, producing tall, strong, erect stalks that you can actually get lost in. At a farm where I worked in California, each year they would plant a huge corn maze where everyone, young and old, would love to get lost in during the October Halloween festival. At Chubeza, a group of kids decided to find out what it feels like to enter the corn bed jungle:

corn4  corn2

corn1   corn3

Since we seed the corn repeatedly within relatively short spans of time, a tour of the field reveals corn beds of varying heights, from 20 cm munchkins, through 50, 80 and 150 cm tall guys, all the way to towering stalks of 2 meters and more! Even the plants that have already been harvested and are currently retired are in no hurry to migrate to Miami, but rather stand there yellowing away in the summer sunshine. (I harbor a special fondness for them…)

IMG_0213

The type of corn Chubeza grows belongs to the “super-sweet” variety (SH2). True to its name, this corn is indeed super and sweet. Who would have believed that such incredibly tasty corn is actually the result of a mutation! And before you ask – I do not mean a genetic-engineered mutation (perish the thought), but rather one which occurred naturally, in the field, far away from sterile labs, and consequently developed by simple hybridization just like any other hybrid seeds. Here’s how this works:

Most of the corn seeded in the world is not even sweet (field/dent corn), but is produced primarily for animal fodder, for cornflower production, and for industrial uses such as ethanol for gas, the plastic industry, corn oil and various other additives. This field corn is actually the ancient corn variety that was grown in Southern and Central America thousands of years ago.

A primary advantage of corn is that it is unstable. It is a crop that is genetically sensitive to mutations and changes that occur in nature, in its genetic composition, which makes it an honored guest within the annals of scientific research (corn plants were instrumental in reaching some of the most important discoveries in genetics, like the Transposons) and a huge variety of corn types – in different colors, shapes and sweetness. Here are some examples:

 Cornvarieties

Sweet corn has been known in Western civilization since 1770. It is not clear when this natural mutation first occurred, but it caused the storing of a double amount of sugar in the storage tissue (endosperm) of the seed. There are hundreds of sweet corn varieties in this group, and it is the common form of fresh corn (on the cob) here in Israel. But this sweetness lives on borrowed time – corn is a cereal crop, and thus from the moment it ripens and is picked off the stalk, an internal process occurs where the sugars turn to starch. During this process, corn loses its sweetness and becomes floury and starchy, thus corn that is eaten more than 3 or 4 days from harvest loses a great deal of its sweetness.

Over the past few decades, two other groups of corn were developed, both based on mutants that occurred naturally which were then carefully developed to create stable varieties for agricultural use. One is the “sugar enhanced” (SE) corn, boasting higher sugar content than traditional sweet corn, which is why when refrigerated it retains sweetness 2-4 days after harvest. The second group is the Super-Sweet corn (SH2), three times sweeter than the other varieties. And most important here, the process of the sugar-transforming-to-starch is much slower, allowing it to remain sweet up to ten days after harvest (when refrigerated). This has, of course, many advantages, specifically when dealing with export to distant markets—but the Chubeza family has the chance to enjoy these nice mutants on the same day they are picked: triply sweet and fresh.

If you cook our corn, this sweet treat blends perfectly with so many flavors: salty, spicy, and sour ingredients all add a distinctive, complementary savor. But really, the best way to enjoy this corn is by simply cooking it in water for a few minutes and then biting right into the fresh cobs. Perhaps it’s too early just yet, but in two months’ time when you may feel the need for a change of pace, take a look at our recipe section for some intriguing non-standard uses for the sweet king of summer.

Here’s to a sweet and summery week, and don’t forget to drink!

Alon, Bat Ami, Yochai, Dror and the entire Chubeza team

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S SUMMER BOXES?

Monday: Parsley, Amoro pumpkin, cherry tomatoes /okra, fakus/cucumbers, zucchini, tomatoes, corn, eggplant, potatoes, melon/water melon. Small boxes only:  leeks/garlic.

Large box, in addition: New Zealand spinach/ lettuce, parsley root, slice of Provence pumpkin/butternut squash, yard-long beans.

Wednesday: Parsley/cilantro, Amoro pumpkin, fakus/cucumbers, zucchini, tomatoes, corn, eggplant, potatoes, melon/water melon. Small boxes: cherry tomatoes/okra/yard-long beans. Small boxes only: New Zealand spinach/ lettuce.

Large box, in addition: Parsley root, slice of Provence pumpkin/butternut squash, leeks/garlic, yard-long beans and cherry tomatoes.

And there’s more! You can add to your basket a wide, delectable range of additional products from fine small producers: flour, sprouts, honey, dates, almonds, garbanzo beans, crackers, probiotic foods, dried fruits and leathers, olive oil, bakery products, apple juice, cider and jams, dates silan and healthy snacks and goat dairy too! You can learn more about each producer on the Chubeza website. On our order system there’s a detailed listing of the products and their cost, you can make an order online now!