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Mirai Corn, Harvard, Illinois

Mirai Corn, Harvard, Illinois
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  • Mirai Corn, Harvard, Illinois

    Post #1 - August 3rd, 2005, 8:44 am
    Post #1 - August 3rd, 2005, 8:44 am Post #1 - August 3rd, 2005, 8:44 am
    Came across this article in the Tribune about the Mirai corn (http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/chi-0508030274aug03,1,3475391.story?coll=chi-news-hed)

    Any idea on where to buy this in the city? Or would I have to make the trek out to some unknow roadside stand near Harvard Illinois? =)
  • Post #2 - August 3rd, 2005, 9:20 am
    Post #2 - August 3rd, 2005, 9:20 am Post #2 - August 3rd, 2005, 9:20 am
    Hi,

    This is not outside my range where I go to buy vegetables for canning. If I can go to Hebron (follow the northern edge of Illinois), then Harvard is not too far afield.

    Just an aside, every year I have to go further to buy my vegetables. My favorite sources within 20 miles have either sold or retired this year.

    Crazy - whenever I get there, I'll get you some corn, too.

    If someone does contact them before I do, please advise here the farm stand hours.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
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  • Post #3 - August 3rd, 2005, 9:26 am
    Post #3 - August 3rd, 2005, 9:26 am Post #3 - August 3rd, 2005, 9:26 am
    Harvard's a nice day trip. You can take the Metro, looks like the farm stand is a mile or two from the station, but a good chunk of the hike would be through a big park. They might even have picnic tables with bbqs where you could grill up your corn. There's a decent butcher right in the center of town (or was), between the train station and the big statue of the cow.

    That said, I generally don't like sweet corn that's too sweet. I suppose too sweet is subjective, but call me old-fashioned, I just don't like the new sweet varieties. Now, if it's so tender it doesn't get stuck in your teeth, that's a different matter :wink:

    When I buy sweet corn now, I generally let it sit for a day or two to let some of the sugars turn.
  • Post #4 - August 3rd, 2005, 9:31 am
    Post #4 - August 3rd, 2005, 9:31 am Post #4 - August 3rd, 2005, 9:31 am
    If you decide to walk it, be careful as those are farm roads and people tend to be doing 60-65 mph and NOT looking for pedestrians.
  • Post #5 - August 3rd, 2005, 9:37 am
    Post #5 - August 3rd, 2005, 9:37 am Post #5 - August 3rd, 2005, 9:37 am
    Hi,

    From the article, it would appear the farm stand is on 173 which indeed is a high speed country road. It's just a bit further west than Hebron.

    I have a call in to learn the hours and days of the farm stand.

    Twin Garden Farms
    23017 Il Route 173
    Harvard, IL 60033
    815-943-7448
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #6 - August 3rd, 2005, 3:00 pm
    Post #6 - August 3rd, 2005, 3:00 pm Post #6 - August 3rd, 2005, 3:00 pm
    One more thing. If anyone is coming all the way out to Harvard to buy the corn that everyone is raving about, take the time to search for Cathy's dozens of posts about the various orchards and other food opportunities in McHenry Co. She definitely knows about all the nooks and crannies in the county ... and if she misses them, I will let her know <g>.

    One more thing. Yes METRA runs to Harvard. However, not all that frequently. And there is no very good way to get around the county w/o a vehicle. Personally, it would probably not be worth taking a train out here for corn ... a $7 OW train ticket from the city ... OUCH.
  • Post #7 - August 3rd, 2005, 3:27 pm
    Post #7 - August 3rd, 2005, 3:27 pm Post #7 - August 3rd, 2005, 3:27 pm
    The Tribune used sweet corn from Jewel for their taste test against corn bought at the farm stand. Supermarket corn, even from the Midwest, is days from the field in most cases. This is a big factor in why almost all supermarket sweet corn is that very sweet but seriously lacking in flavor supersweet (uses shrunken gene). A much fairer test would be against sugary-enhanced (se or se2) from a farm stand or farmers market. Unless you can talk to the grower, you probably won't be able to determine the type. There may still be a little of the old su type available commercially. This is the type where you put the kettle of water on the stove before going out to pick the corn because the sugar starts converting to starch upon picking. Most su seed seems to go to home gardeners who know how to handle the stuff or for producing the starchy sweet corn commonly seen in Mexican markets.
  • Post #8 - August 3rd, 2005, 6:51 pm
    Post #8 - August 3rd, 2005, 6:51 pm Post #8 - August 3rd, 2005, 6:51 pm
    I was bored this evening, so instead of pulling into my driveway, I drove the extra seven miles to Harvard.

    First, like most small businessmen in McHenry Co., they close the stand at 5:00 pm sharp. I got there at 5:30, pulled in and noticed that all the corn was gone. A wasted trip. I guess most people in this county don't know that a lot of us work till 5:00 pm. Or care. By the way, they are open 10-5 everyday.

    Onto Swiss Maid Bakery in Harvard - alright baked goods at a reasonable price. Got there at 5:57. I got that "you KNOW we close at 6:00 pm" stare from the two teenagers behind the counter.

    Stop at Fiesta Foods, Harvard's lone hispanic grocery. On its best days, the place is pretty marginal. Today, well, was not one of their better days as it looked like most of their refrigeration was down. Decided not to chance it.

    Other comments:

    If you insist on taking METRA to Harvard. walk south on Ayres and that will take you to Il-173. Then take a right on IL-173. It is a little over a mile and watch out for traffic.

    If you are driving, I would continue north another 8-10 miles to Darien, WI and stop at Sorg's Butcher Shop. They have some pretty good meat. They are open until 5 during the week and 4 on weekends. They also do not like people that walk in at closing either.
  • Post #9 - August 3rd, 2005, 7:12 pm
    Post #9 - August 3rd, 2005, 7:12 pm Post #9 - August 3rd, 2005, 7:12 pm
    Harvard is going through the growing pains associated with both sprawl and the disaster that is Motorola (IL taxpayers, check your wallets on this one). There are lots of local farmers who moved west from Lake County when land values there soared.

    It is what it is, trapped in a web of time and space. Getting upset because people want to keep to their old hours seems unproductive. Just because city dwellers "have to" work until 5 doesn't mean people in Harvard should be glad to stay open late to accommodate.

    I say this in full memory of when you couldn't buy meat in Chicago except M-F 9-5, and when stores were simply not open on Sunday. Period.

    We ate well then and we can now.
  • Post #10 - August 4th, 2005, 12:33 am
    Post #10 - August 4th, 2005, 12:33 am Post #10 - August 4th, 2005, 12:33 am
    annieb wrote:I say this in full memory of when you couldn't buy meat in Chicago except M-F 9-5, and when stores were simply not open on Sunday. Period.

    We ate well then and we can now.

    Yes, but those were the days when most married women were expected to spend their days shopping, cooking and cleaning -- not going out to work -- and the typical family could manage fine on one income.
  • Post #11 - August 4th, 2005, 7:53 am
    Post #11 - August 4th, 2005, 7:53 am Post #11 - August 4th, 2005, 7:53 am
    Things had progressed quite beyond the little wife and homemaker and one income family by 1977.
  • Post #12 - August 4th, 2005, 5:10 pm
    Post #12 - August 4th, 2005, 5:10 pm Post #12 - August 4th, 2005, 5:10 pm
    I received an e-mail from Twin Garden Farms:

    The Mirai corn is only available at our roadside stand

    I'm assuming that you would take I-90, take the rt 20 exit into Marengo, in Marengo turn right on rt 23 stay on rt 23 until it ends at rt 14 in Harvard turn left onto rt 14 - at the 3rd stoplight (Arby's on left) turn left onto rt 173 west - we are located approx 1.5 mi from that intersection.
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #13 - August 7th, 2005, 10:28 am
    Post #13 - August 7th, 2005, 10:28 am Post #13 - August 7th, 2005, 10:28 am
    I realized I did not have any sense of time when Twin Garden Farms was open:

    The stand is normally opern Mon - Sat 10 am - 5 pm, but we will be open Sun 8/07 from 10 am - 5 pm because of all of the publicity
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #14 - August 10th, 2005, 11:15 pm
    Post #14 - August 10th, 2005, 11:15 pm Post #14 - August 10th, 2005, 11:15 pm
    An article in the Chicago Tribune today enhanced my interest in what is going on genetically with Mirai. After a bit of research I found a farm's web site with a pretty good explanation of the different types of sweet corn. Note that se+ and se2 are two names for the same genetic pattern. Mirai is in a class called ShQ, which has both the se and sh genes in all kernals. The sh2 type goes back a lot more than the 20 years cited in this site. I know from experience that at least one variety was available in the early to mid 1960s.

    Elsewhere on the same site is an article by a Philadelpia Inquirer columnist using somewhat more normal English prose. Note that the farm in question is in southeastern Pennsylvania.

    I suspect that we will be hearing more about SeQ and ShQ sweet corn. There do seem to be some vigor and cultural problems, so these types will have to carry a premium price. Corn seeds with the sh gene have always had problems with rotting rather than germinating at low soil temperatures along with poor cold tolerance if they do come up. Considering that plant breeders have had over 40 years to work on this problem, it is probably another characteristic carried by the gene.
  • Post #15 - September 1st, 2005, 12:46 pm
    Post #15 - September 1st, 2005, 12:46 pm Post #15 - September 1st, 2005, 12:46 pm
    Does anyone know how long Mirai corn will be available for purchase at this farm stand in Harvard?
  • Post #16 - September 6th, 2005, 11:59 am
    Post #16 - September 6th, 2005, 11:59 am Post #16 - September 6th, 2005, 11:59 am
    I e-mailed Twin Garden Farms who advised:

    We closed the stand Sat 9/3 - Check with us the last week of July next year for opening dates for 2006 - normally we can stay open until 9/15 but the heat ripened the corn faster this year


    It had been my goal to head out there, too. Now we know the timing for next year.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #17 - September 6th, 2005, 12:46 pm
    Post #17 - September 6th, 2005, 12:46 pm Post #17 - September 6th, 2005, 12:46 pm
    Thanks for the information, saved me a trip out there. Here's a bit of info about the corn. Was at Super Walmart in Antioch this past weekend and they had Mirai corn for sale [$1.98 a bag], it was in the same green bag as the corn we had purchased from the stand 3 weeks ago. Will try it tonite and let you know if it is the same.



    [/i]
  • Post #18 - July 17th, 2006, 8:58 am
    Post #18 - July 17th, 2006, 8:58 am Post #18 - July 17th, 2006, 8:58 am
    Hi,

    I remembered this over the weekend and sent them an e-mail:

    Thank you for your interest in Mirai! Our farmstand is opening Wednesday, July 26. We will be open from 10:00 - 5:00 everyday. We are at the same location. See you then


    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #19 - August 15th, 2006, 4:25 pm
    Post #19 - August 15th, 2006, 4:25 pm Post #19 - August 15th, 2006, 4:25 pm
    Image

    Checking online for something to do last Saturday, I saw that the Illinois State Fair was operating. I also saw it was 3-1/2 hours away. But that did remind me that the state of Illinois (Rod Blagojevich, Governor) maintains this pageof county fairs. The nearest one was in Boone County, Belvidere to be specific, not much over an hour away. And so we were off!

    Image

    By now, after two Lake County Fairs, the DeKalb Corn Fest, and assorted other such events, we are old hands at these things. There are the barns where the livestock hangs out, and the kids marvel at the fact that kids their age lead lives that involve cows and pigs (and taking naps in sleeping bags on the hay in the barn!).

    There are the barns where the cabbages and corn relish and quilts and digital photos compete for ribbons (always a source of fascination for the kids, who burn to win prizes for something, doesn't matter what). There are the commercial booths, where you can have your picture taken with celebrities:

    Image

    Leo would be so proud of me. There are the shows, where you will hear some variation on this every time: "Well, I just have to say that this is an unusually impressive collection of [insert species]. It's really hard to pick a winner, all the young people have really done a great job and I could easily see any of them competing at National. But there were one or two that struck us as being particularly fine examples..."

    There are the carnival rides, which are no doubt the exact same pieces of equipment we ride at each one, familiar enough by now that the kids know them by name ("I want to do the Scrambler, then the Tilt-a-Whirl, then the Cuckoo Haus...")

    And then there's the food. You have to choose carefully-- a lot of people were walking around with pizza, which is clearly the wrong choice in so many ways, and there was one woman (who looked to have a wise-food-choice problem) eating potato chips covered in nacho cheese, which is unspeakable. But choose wisely and you'll have freshly made corn dogs, brats freshly grilled by the Jaycees or the K of C, doughnuts made by the local firefighters (see top photo), and... the reason why I posted this in this thread...

    Image

    Hadn't even thought about it, but Harvard is closer to Belvidere than it is to the Sears Tower, most likely, so it wasn't surprising to find the elusive Mirai corn for sale here. It's good. Even though it's oversweetened by my standards, and it kind of bugs me that certain things (e.g., apples) are routinely sweeter than they were 20 years ago. But big fat Corn Pops-like kernels on a freshly roasted ear of corn, chomped in the hot sun at a county fair... it was really good. I think if I had some to cook, I would try to roast it a little harder, caramelize a little more of it, give it a few burnt edges for some bitter contrast with the sweet. But I liked it.

    Like it or not, there was none extra for sale, but we did stop at two farmstands on the way back and bought regular sweet corn, tomatoes (the best I've had so far this summer, still not great), Michigan blueberries (even better than the ones I bought at Green City a week ago, if that's possible), and a few other things. You can't buy Mirai, but at least you can try Mirai-- at the Boone County Fair.
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  • Post #20 - August 16th, 2006, 9:36 pm
    Post #20 - August 16th, 2006, 9:36 pm Post #20 - August 16th, 2006, 9:36 pm
    Hi,

    I'm glad you had an opportunity to try Mirai. For some reason I envision it being white corn with tiny kernals. I certainly didn't expect it to look like bi-color corn.

    I'm jealous! :D

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #21 - August 16th, 2006, 9:40 pm
    Post #21 - August 16th, 2006, 9:40 pm Post #21 - August 16th, 2006, 9:40 pm
    No, they're big kernels. At least half again as big as the kernels on the sweet corn we picked up at the stand on our way back, though the ears are not noticeably larger-- about as large as the largest you see in grocery stores, but not unprecedently so.
    Watch Sky Full of Bacon, the Chicago food HD podcast!
    New episode: Soil, Corn, Cows and Cheese
    Watch the Reader's James Beard Award-winning Key Ingredient here.
  • Post #22 - July 20th, 2007, 2:34 pm
    Post #22 - July 20th, 2007, 2:34 pm Post #22 - July 20th, 2007, 2:34 pm
    Mirai® is right around the corner and that means the world's best
    sweet corn and better yet, the world's best customers!!!

    Projected Opening Date is July 25th. This could change due to weather. Check our site, email us or call as we get close to that date. We can't wait to see you again!

    http://www.twingardenfarms.com
  • Post #23 - July 20th, 2007, 3:30 pm
    Post #23 - July 20th, 2007, 3:30 pm Post #23 - July 20th, 2007, 3:30 pm
    This week's Jewel ad features Mirai corn - $2.99/6pk
  • Post #24 - July 25th, 2007, 1:41 am
    Post #24 - July 25th, 2007, 1:41 am Post #24 - July 25th, 2007, 1:41 am
    Mike G wrote:It's good. Even though it's oversweetened by my standards, and it kind of bugs me that certain things (e.g., apples) are routinely sweeter than they were 20 years ago.

    In Madison Saturday, we bought early Wisconsin corn from a farmer at the Dane County Farmers' Market. They were small ears, and the woman next to me declined to buy any after the farmer explained that the corn was very tender but not as sweet as later corn would be.

    We roasted our ears in the husk on the grill last night. Himself was impatient and took them off when they were just cooked -- not waiting for the caramelized stage -- but they were perfectly sweet and delicious, full of fresh corn flavor, just as sweet corn ought to be. And that's two to three days after they were picked.

    That makes me wonder what this farmer's later-season corn must taste like. Candy corn?

    I don't know about Mirai, but I think the raison d'etre behind many of the supersweet varieties is that the sugars in them hold up well during shipping cross country.
  • Post #25 - July 25th, 2007, 10:15 am
    Post #25 - July 25th, 2007, 10:15 am Post #25 - July 25th, 2007, 10:15 am
    They were selling Mirai corn at the Forest Park French Market last weekend.
  • Post #26 - August 9th, 2007, 10:20 pm
    Post #26 - August 9th, 2007, 10:20 pm Post #26 - August 9th, 2007, 10:20 pm
    HI,

    It's been two years since CrazyC posted on Mirai corn. Much to my surprise, just this week I finally had an opportunity to try this lofty corn. All this is courtesy of a friend who dropped off a dozen ears of Mirai direct from Harvard and a dozen plus ears of bi-color corn from Von Bergen's in Hebron, IL. A lovely opportunity to do a side-by-side comparison of really fresh from the field corn.

    Unshucked the Mirai corn on left seemed just a bit larger than the bi-color to the right. The Mirai corn arrived in 6 ears in a green mesh bag with an informational tag and brochure. The bi-color from Von Bergens was selected from a pile, then dropped into a plain brown bag:

    Image

    Shucked the Mirai corn on the left looked very similar to the bi-color, except size with the Mirai just a bit bigger.

    Image

    Cooked the singular Mirai corn on the left and the two bi-color from Von Bergen on the right are pretty much indistinguishable visually. I followed the cooking instructions on the Mirai tag to boil no more than 2.5-3 minutes.

    Image

    My friend who gifted these brought a quantity of each type of corn cooked and still warm to her office. The first day her co-workers tried the Von Bergen corn claiming it was the best corn they had ever had. The very next day she brought the Mirai corn, they could not believe it was a different variety of corn. To this group of ladies who didn't try them side-by-side, though from day-to-day, could not find any real difference. Both corns were ranked the best, though they were surprised there was any difference.

    I have had several meals of these two corns this week, because I was working hard to find substantitive differences. There are only very fine points in the difference in these two corns. The Von Bergen bi-color corn seemed creamier and had a slightly less snap when bit. Whereas the Mirai seemed just a bit drier with a more pronounced snap to the bite. While these are tiny differences, I do prefer the Von Bergen bi-color to the Mirai.

    Here is my seat of the pants analysis of Mirai corn vs bi-color from Von Bergen. Mirai touts itself as a patented corn. Whoopee! I can guarantee the bi-color is patented, too, though it is not treated as a feature. The Mirai is packaged like an upscale select product with labeling stating, "The Gold Standard of Fresh Corn." Von Bergen's bi-color is piled high on a table with paper bags ready to be filled. Mirai has a carefully thought out pamphlet with recipes and information where to find their patented corn. Von Bergen's has photocopied recipes, if they remember to put them out.

    In a nutshell, Mirai corn is driven by a crafty marketing program. You are being convinced this is the better product by the packaging, labeling and best-use knowledge. Mirai is not outstandingly different from bi-color corn grown in our region. The difference is certainly price with Mirai at $22 for 48 ears (or ~ $29.79 for 65 ears) and Von Bergen bi-color at $15 for 65 ears. Once you have tried them side-by-side, there is nothing significantly distinguisable about Mirai to justify the hefty price increase. You are paying for a marketing program.

    Mirai Japanese patented corn:

    Twin Garden Farms
    23017 Il Route 173
    Harvard, IL 60033
    815-943-7448

    $22 for 4 dozen ears

    ***

    Von Bergen's Country Market
    9805 Route 173 Hebron, IL 60034
    Tel: 815/648-2332
    (Between Richmond and Hebron, just along the Illinois-Wisconsin border)

    $15/bag up to 10 bags, $13/bag in quantities greater than 10. (65 ears per bag)

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #27 - August 9th, 2007, 11:00 pm
    Post #27 - August 9th, 2007, 11:00 pm Post #27 - August 9th, 2007, 11:00 pm
    Excellent post Cathy. Thanks.
  • Post #28 - August 10th, 2007, 7:57 am
    Post #28 - August 10th, 2007, 7:57 am Post #28 - August 10th, 2007, 7:57 am
    I located the pamphlet, which had interesting additional information:

    Is this Japanese corn?

    No. Mirai (pronounced me-RYE) was developed in Harvard (Illinois). Mirai is so tender it requires hand picking. The seed was first introduced to Japan because they have small farms where much of the work is still done by hand. The Japanese names in Mirai meaning both the "future is coming" and "taste." Today, Mirai accounts for about 30% of the Japanese sweet corn market. Discerning growers in the US are now taking advantage of the Mirai Experience.


    I believe all sweet corn destined for the table is hand harvested. Of course, this hand harvesting does not apply to field corn.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #29 - August 10th, 2007, 8:05 am
    Post #29 - August 10th, 2007, 8:05 am Post #29 - August 10th, 2007, 8:05 am
    My partner is in Lake Geneva, well Williams Bay specifically about twice a month on business and yesterday stopped at the farmstand that stands at the corner of Wisconsin County F and Geneva St., just west of Yerkes Observatory and bought 4 ears of Mirai corn for $1.80. It really was the best corn I have ever had. We just microwaved it in a water bath and added a little butter.
  • Post #30 - August 10th, 2007, 8:10 am
    Post #30 - August 10th, 2007, 8:10 am Post #30 - August 10th, 2007, 8:10 am
    LikestoEatout wrote:4 ears of Mirai corn for $1.80. It really was the best corn I have ever had. We just microwaved it in a water bath and added a little butter.

    .45c an ear at a rural farmstand? Holy hunk of Batman, that best be some damn good corn!
    Sauce on the side, always, implied, axiomatic..........never a doubt, BBQ sauce without.

    Low & Slow

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