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Tapia Brothers carries on Santa Clarita’s Corn Tradition

FREE CORN!  Now that I have your attention….

Growing up in the 1970s San Fernando Valley, my family wasn’t especially wealthy.   Finding money for every meal was tough at times. . My sister and I were sent in to Supermarkets separately so we could make use of one per person coupons.   As the holidays approached, my mom sat around listening to local radio station KGIL, ready to call into the radio station when they announced they were giving away free turkeys.

Once summer arrived, there was one certainty when it came to our food. My family would always pile in the car and drive to a small Farm Stand in Encino to buy fresh corn. After making our purchase we drove back home where my sister and I had the responsibility to shuck the corn over a trash can in the backyard.

What I didn’t realize back then was that cheaper corn was often available at the local supermarkets. Yet in spite of costing just a little bit more, my family still made a special trip just to buy that little farm stand’s corn.

That farm stand, Tapia Brothers, still sits at the same location today on Hayvenhurst and Burbank Boulevard in Encino. Surprisingly, it still looks much the same. They still grow their famous sweet corn (both yellow and white) on 10 of acres in the Sepulveda basin, an agriculture oasis in the middle of the urban desert.

Tapia family has quite a history here in Santa Clarita as well. In addition to growing corn in Encino, the Tapia family used to farm and sell corn in Saugus. Their second corn stand was located at Newhall Ranch Road and Bouquet Canyon, where the current new Starbucks is located.

As our Valley developed, the Tapia family was eventually pushed out of the Santa Clarita Valley, closing up their Saugus corn stand in 1984.    Thankfully (because the 405 isn’t my favorite place to be), Tapia Brothers’ corn is is still available right here in the Santa Clarita Valley. Santa Clarita resident Laura Tapia brings their wonderful corn up from Encino every Sunday to sell at the College of the Canyons Farmers Market for $1 per ear. But why would you pay a dollar when supermarkets are selling corn for as low as $0.25 per ear?

The answer is simple logistics. Like most produce, corn tastes best when eaten fresh. A supermarket ear of corn has to make a long journey from the farm to your dinner plate. Farmers sell their product to distributors who then sell their product to buyers for the major markets. The corn is then trucked around the Southland between distribution centers and eventually it ends up in another semi-truck bound for a local supermarket. This process takes time. Supermarkets often sell products at a loss to draw in customers who buy other items.  This can explain the cheap corn price.

But Tapia corn takes a different journey. Their corn is picked fresh and driven in a small trailer directly to our local farmers market. Most of the time the corn was harvested in the last 24 hours. You can’t get much fresher than that, unless you want to make the drive to Encino and pick some up as they are bringing it in from the fields.

So how confident is the Tapia family about their corn? Well they want you to try it for yourself and see. And it won’t even cost you anything.

This Sunday, July 16th, 2017 only, Laura Tapia wants you to have free corn. Just stop by the Tapia booth at the College of the Canyons Farmers Market from 8 a.m. until noon. Tell Laura that you are with the Santa Clarita Foodies group. She will give you one free ear of corn.

What can you do with your corn? Here’s a couple suggestions that I recommend:

The Tapia Recipe (simple!)

Fill pot with 3 inches of water.
Bring water to boil.
Remove from heat immediately and add shucked corn.
Cover tightly with a lid.
Allow to steam for 3-4 minutes and serve

Creamed Corn

8 ears shucked corn
1T Butter
Salt & Pepper
Corn creamer (available @ http://amzn.to/2udU3Xl)

Grate raw corn on creamer tool, removing all kernels.  Put into pot with butter.  Heat up and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Corn is ready when warm, do not overcook.