Valley Bounty, September 14: Sweet Corn
Get your fill of sweet corn in the next couple of weeks, because there won’t be any more, fresh and on the cob, until next July! One of the best things about this shoulder season is that you can combine summer and fall flavors. Try sweet corn, winter squash, and tomatillo enchiladas, or corn, sausage, and roasted peppers on a pizza. Although it’s not the same as summer’s corn-on-the-cob, corn freezes easily for winter use.
CISA’s list of sweet corn growers and farmstands selling sweet corn is here.
Sweet corn, winter squash, and tomatillo enchiladas. This recipe calls for a half a cup of canned corn. I use more, and I use fresh in the fall or frozen in the winter. Usually I peel and cube the squash and roast it with the onions, rather than roasting the squash whole and cooking the onions on the stove. If you don’t like peeling squash, you may find the method used in the original recipe easier. The tomatillo sauce used here is made with chicken broth. You could also use any vegetarian tomatillo sauce or salsa that you like. In either case, if you make the sauce now and freeze it, this is an easy winter meal.
Corn and sausage pizza: Cut the corn off the cob and sauté with garlic, onions, and sausage Or roast it with onions and peppers and cook the sausage on the stovetop. Spread the vegetables and sausage on a pizza crust, add some thyme or rosemary, and sprinkle with mozzarella. Bake in a hot oven until the edges are crisp and the cheese is melty.
Corn is easy to freeze and it’s great to have it in the winter. To freeze corn, steam or boil it just as you would to eat it. My copy of Putting Food By recommends 6 minutes of boiling, but I wouldn’t boil just-picked corn that long even if I were going to eat it right away. I steam for a couple of minutes, then put the cobs into a sinkful of cold water. Since there’s all that hot cob in there, using two sinks side-by-side can help to cool the corn quickly if you are doing a lot. Some people rig up systems to siphon water from one sink to another, but I just move the corn from one sink to another and keep adding cool water.
Cut the corn off the cob with a sharp knife (it’s messy), put it in ziplock bags or other containers, and put it in your freezer. I like to freeze corn in pre-measured one or two cup portions.
Corn is a forgiving frozen vegetable. If you have extra after cooking corn on the cob for dinner, cut it off the cob and stick it in the freezer.
My favorite use for frozen corn is in cornbread. I like the recipe in Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything and opt to make it with very little sugar, as in the “old fashioned variation” in this on-line recipe. It’s especially good made with freshly ground, locally grown dry corn (find sources here; some vegetable CSAs also provide dry corn). Whatever cornmeal you use, it’s a great cornbread and even better with a cup of frozen sweet corn added to it. No need to thaw the corn before mixing it into the batter, although it will cook slower with frozen corn.
We also mix frozen corn with other frozen vegetables and steam or sauté to serve; add it to soups and stews; and use it to make a simple potato, corn and bacon chowder.
CISA’s food preservation resource page is here.