Corn is ready to be harvested through summer and into autumn. It can be found at local farmer’s markets across British Columbia. Corn is delicious and healthy, and it has quite a history within our shared culture. Try buying corn now from the farmer’s market and freezing it so you can have the taste of summer corn all year round. It makes as a great side dish when combined with zucchini in a sauté.
Corn is a staple in nearly all diets across the world. It has a long history of being eaten by the Native Americans, and the first record of sweet corn comes from 1779 when the Iroquois gave the vegetable to the European settlers. Sweet corn, the type we usually eat off the cob, helps increase our bodies level of ferulic acid, which has cancer-fighting properties. Sweet corn is picked while still immature, in its milk phase, unlike other field corns that mature into the dent stage where they become dry. To tell if a piece of sweet corn is really fresh, simply pop one of the kernels. If the juices come spraying out, that is the sign of truly fresh sweet corn.
Unfortunately, once corn is picked, it has a very short window of freshness. However, corn freezes very well and you can easily freeze the corn you buy at the farmer’s market. It only takes a couple hours and, if you make enough, it will provide you with that sweet, fresh flavour of summer corn all through the winter. All you have to do is bring a pot of water to boil on the stove and put six ears of corn into the boiling water for three minutes. Fill a large stainless steel mixing bowl with water and ice (about 10 cubes). When the corn is done, move it from the boiling water to the ice water. Once the corn has cooled, cut the kernels off the cob with a sharp knife. Take the kernels and place them into freezer bags. Try to get as much air out of the bag as you can, and then put the corn into the freezer. Simple as that! Repeat these steps until you have as much corn as you want to save.
A fantastic side dish that is worth trying to make is the corn and zucchini sauté. This recipe is simple to moderate in difficulty, but worth the challenge for its unique taste and its rarity as a side dish. It is not commonly seen, but works with nearly any main course. The recipe is as follows:
Corn and Zucchini Sauté
2 tablespoons butter
1-tablespoon olive oil
1½ cups small-diced sweet onion
1-teaspoon kosher salt
1¼ cups small-diced zucchini
2 heaping cups of fresh corn kernels (cut off the cob)
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1-teaspoon ground cumin
1-teaspoon ground coriander
2-3 tablespoons fresh mint
Freshly ground black pepper
Melt 1 tablespoon of butter with olive oil in a sauté pan over medium-low heat. Add the onions and ½ teaspoon of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Raise the heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are light golden and shrunken, another 3 to 4 minutes.
Add the remaining tablespoon of butter and the zucchini. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the zucchini is slightly shrunken and almost tender, about 3 minutes. Add the corn, garlic, and remaining ½ teaspoon of salt. Cook, stirring frequently and scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon, until the corn is tender but still slightly toothy to bite, 3 to 4 minutes. (It will begin to intensify in colour, glisten, and be somewhat shrunken in size, and the bottom of the pan may be slightly brown.) Add the cumin and coriander and cook, stirring, until very fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Remove the pan from the heat. Add the mint, a good squeeze of lemon, and a few generous grinds of pepper. Stir, let sit 2 minutes, and stir again, scraping up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Season to taste with more salt, pepper, or lemon. Serve warm.
Corn and zucchini sauté recipe adapted from the Summer 2015 Cookfresh magazine (page 88)
Corn freezing technique adapted from the Old Farmer’s Almanac blog, “Celeste in the Garden” (http://www.almanac.com/blog/celestes-garden/garden-celeste-freezing-corn)
Additional information found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sweet_corn