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May, 2017 19

“How hungry did the first person to eat that have to be?” is a question long associated with the oyster. At first sight, I do admit, they don’t particularly look very appetizing, but once you start to enjoy, understand and appreciate the oyster and the differences between the various types, you’ll get over it. Flavor profiles of oyster vary as much as wine grapes and the various styles of wine. Some of the different ways to describe the oyster are sweet, briny, crisp and even creamy, with hints of flavors such as cucumber and even melon. Where the oyster is harvested determines the flavor profile of that specific oyster. Humans have been eating oysters for thousands of years. They can be enjoyed raw or cooked. They are high in calcium, iron and protein and are said to be an aphrodisiac. Oysters are found throughout the world’s oceans, usually in shallow waters. They feed by extracting algae and other food particles over their gills, thus filtering the water naturally. I recently had the pleasure of meeting Matt Gregg, who is helping to bring back oyster farming to the Barnegat Bay. He and his company, 40 North Oysters, (check out their website, it’s awesome!) are harvesting oysters from the beautiful waters

A dash or 2 of tabasco, optional method-place shucked oysters in buttermilk and let sit -heat the oil in a pan to 350 degrees -combine cornmeal, flour and salt and pepper in a bowl -dredge oysters individually in corn meal mix -repeat once more by putting oysters back in the buttermilk and once again into corn meal mix -add to oil, and cook until golden brown on all sides, turning as they fry -drain on a paper towel-lined plate and serve in the cleaned, reserved shells to make remoulade-combine mayo, lemon juice, ketchup, capers, relish, parsley, shallot and tabasco in a bowl and whisk together until well incorporated -serve on the side with the lemon wedges and ENJOY!!!

From the Deep By Craig Korb Executive Chef

Shucking great oysters of the Barnegat Bay. During the 1950s there was the great oyster collapse, in which pollution and over-harvesting brought down the oyster farming of Barnegat Bay. Due to the rising popularity of oysters, as well as the locally sourced movement, the Barnegat Bay oyster is back, with Matt George and 40 North Oysters leading the way. I have spoken to Matt several times and I am planning a trip for a tour of the oyster farms in the near future. As chef of The Crab’s Claw Inn in Lavallette, I am constantly trying to procure locally sourced items such as vegetables and seafood. My family and I thoroughly enjoy oysters, and I have to tell you that each and every oyster we have purchased from 40 North has been pristine and of exceptional quality. When I first tried them, I was pleasantly shocked to learn that they came from our own backyard, literally. The Crab’s Claw is but a

stone’s throw from the Barnegat Bay. We will be working with this exceptional company and carrying their oysters as long as we can. They’re that good, folks. There are currently about a dozen oyster farms in New Jersey. When talking with Matt, you can really get a sense of his passion for his work and his knowledge of the bay and aquaculture in general. He explains how beneficial the oysters are to the bay in a video on the 40 North website. It’s a winwin situation, really. They supply local restaurants with great fresh oysters, as well as cleaning the bay, which is a main focus of 40 North. They also harvest clams, which we will more than likely be carrying at the restaurant. So, onto the recipe of the month. As much as I enjoy fresh shucked oysters on the half with a squeeze of lemon and a shot of tabasco, I equally enjoy fried oysters dipped in a nice mayonnaise-based remoulade

sauce. This is a fairly easy recipe and makes for a great presentation as well. It can be used as an appetizer for two or a dinner for one. Enjoy this while sitting outside on a nice May evening. See you next month with some grill action! Cornmeal crusted oysters with remoulade (serves 1 as a dinner or 2 as an app.) 12 fresh oysters (as local as possible) shucked and bottom of the shell washed and saved 1/2 cup corn meal 1/2 cup flour 1 cup buttermilk Oil for frying, about a cup Salt and pepper to taste 3-4 lemon wedges 1 tsp. lemon juice 1/2 cup mayo 1 tsp. ketchup 1 tsp. capers, chopped 1 tsp. relish 1/2 tsp. chopped fresh parsley 1 shallot, minced

Editor’s Note: Craig Korb is executive chef at The Crab’s Claw Inn, Lavallette, New Jersey. He has an Associates degree in Culinary Arts and a Bachelors degree in Food Service Management from Johnson and Wales University. For more information visit www.TheCrabsClaw.com or phone (732) 793-4447.

When is a Geranium Not a Geranium? By Hubert Ling Have you ever grown American geraniums? Most gardeners are familiar with the red flowered South African plant called a geranium, but technically the name for that plant is Pelargonium. Pelargoniums are not hardy in New Jersey. However, there is a lovely perennial New Jersey woodland plant which is a real geranium: that is, the scientific name is Geranium maculatum. Common names for this plant are wild geranium or American cranesbill. The name geranium is from geranos which is Greek for crane. This term refers to the fruit which is elongated like a crane’s beak. The species name maculatum is from the Latin for spotted. Exactly what is supposed to be spotted is a matter of conjecture. The flowers can sometimes have slightly blotchy pink coloration or the

leaves sometimes have spots of lighter yellow-green, and in the fall there are sometimes brilliant red patches on the leaves. Generally however, this plant has uniform color of both the flowers and the leaves. Wild geraniums are easy to grow in any good garden soil. They are tolerant of different conditions but prefer partial shade, normal water conditions, and good drainage. The plants are easily propagated from root divisions or by using fresh or dried seed. If conditions are right, the plant can spread slowly by underground rhizomes to form magnificent large colonies, but most colonies in the wild are two feet wide and four feet long at most and are not aggressive. Wild geraniums have conspicuous one- to one-anda-half-inch flowers borne in loose clusters of two to five in May. The flowers have five petals and are light pink, magenta, deep pink, or on rare occasions a white form may be found. Some

flowers show darker pink lines radiating out from the centers. In ultraviolet light, these lines appear as dark stripes and apparently act as nectar guides for pollinators. The flowers attract flies, butterflies, native bees and honeybees. The leaves are deeply divided into five or six lobes and are basically round in shape, somewhat resembling a small maple or sycamore leaf, and mature plants reach a height of one to two feet. Seed dispersal in true geraniums is spectacular! The long pointy “crane’s bill” is formed from five springs which break apart violently from each other and catapult the seeds 10 to 20 feet from the parent plant. Each seed has a small, tail-like structure which curls and uncurls with changes in moisture; movements of this “tail” help bury the seeds. The seeds provide food for birds and mammals. The fleshy rhizomes and roots, which are high in tannins and gallic acid,

played a prominent role in Native American medicine. They were used to treat dysentery and diarrhea. Rhizomes were also used as a styptic to stop bleeding in the mouth and the Meskwaki tribe of present-day Iowa used them for toothaches, sore gums and hemorrhoids. Rhizomes were also used as a poultice on burns. Mentioning the above uses does not mean that experimentation with the roots is safe or effective, since each person reacts differently to medications, and safe dosages are impossible to predict because individual wild plants vary widely in medicinal content. New Jersey has two other native geraniums: Carolina and Herb Robert geranium. Both of these are annuals and have inconspicuous small flowers. Herb Robert is interesting because of its small, intense red flowers and its long blooming period from May to October. It is also interesting because of its intense, powerful, bad smell,

which repels many people and even deer. Geranium maculatum grows naturally all over Eastern North America and in New Jersey it is found in almost every county. It is easy to cultivate and do well in as a border in a shady part of your garden with rhododendrons, ferns, Solomon’s seal and trillium. Geraniums have no serious diseases or insect pests but can develop minor rust or leaf spots. Wild geranium is available at a number of native-plant nurseries. Check out the listings on the Native Plant Society of New Jersey website at www. npsnj.org. While you are there, also look for additional information and photos of wild geraniums in the photo gallery. Editor’s Note: Hubert Ling is the Horticulture Chairman for the Native Plant Society of New Jersey. He can be reached at milhubling@verizon.net

Gardener News May 2017  

Serving the Agricultural, Gardening and Landscaping Communities

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