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Culinary Capers: Savoring Summer Corn

You can freeze corn now and still have that fresh taste later in the winter months.

Most would agree that summer’s fresh garden vegetables, whether you grew them yourself or bought them locally, are superior in flavor to those you eat at any other time of the year. This is particularly true of corn. 

Alas, the summer draws to a close and we are destined to return to the frozen food aisle until next year’s harvest is ready. Or are we ?

There is more corn out there than you might think. In fact, the numbers are staggering. According to the Corn Farmers' Coalition:

  • In 2010, corn farmers in the United States produced 12.4 billion bushels of corn. That is enough to circle the globe with bushel baskets 127 times.
  • Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska are the largest corn producing states.
  • 95 percent of corn producing farms are family owned and operated.

If you’ve been to the , or lately, you know that corn is plentiful for purchase. If you are willing to put the time into the cooking and storing of summer corn, you won’t regret it. Depending on how ambitious you are, you can freeze multiple bags to last until next summer. Just defrost corn as needed and heat in the microwave. The steps to successfully freeze corn for future uses are provided below.

Cook Corn off the Cob

  1. Start with fresh corn that has been husked.
  2. Prepare a bowl of ice and water to cool off the corn after boiling.
  3. Boil corn in a large pot of water, about 2/3 full; just blanch the corn, rather than cooking it, boiling covered for just 4 to 6 minutes and then place the corn in the bowl of ice and water so it will cool.
  4. Cool the corn for the same amount of time you blanched it. Cut the kernels away from the cob and place in freezer safe storage containers

Storing Frozen Corn

A couple of simple steps will help maintain freshness in the freezer.

  1. Don't fill bags all the way full so you leave room to remove any air bubbles
  2. To maintain freshness, store corn in amounts to be used for one meal so you aren't opening and resealing bags or containers.

In addition to being enjoyed in its simplest form off the cob, corn adds sweetness and texture to many tried and true favorites. I’ve featured a couple of options below. The first is a hearty corn chowder which is perfect for cooler nights as fall makes its first appearances. 

End-of-Summer Corn Chowder

serves 4

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 cups diced red potatoes
  • 5 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cups sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • kernels from 5 ears fresh corn
  • 1 cup grated Monterey Jack or Pepper Jack cheese
  • pepper, to taste
  • 2 scallions, chopped

Directions

  • In a large sauce, pan heat olive oil over medium heat.
  • Add garlic and onions, and cook 10 minutes, until beginning to brown.
  • Stir in cayenne and potatoes, and cook 3 minutes, stirring often.
  • Add vegetable broth, sour cream and salt, stirring well. Cook 20 minutes.
  • With a potato masher, lightly mash about half the potatoes, to create a thicker broth.
  • Cook an additional 10 minutes, until potatoes are tender.
  • Stir in corn and cheese, and cook 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Garnish with scallions and additional sour cream, if desired

The next is a great little side dish. Not only does it utilize corn but it is a great way to use your summer garden herbs for flavor. It pairs well with fish and grilled meats.

Herbed Corn

  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
  • 1 large shallot, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 6 cups fresh corn kernels (cut from about 9 large ears)
  • 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup chopped assorted fresh herbs (such as basil, cilantro, and parsley)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh tarragon

Directions

  • Melt butter in heavy large skillet over medium heat.
  • Add shallot and cumin seeds.
  • Sauté until shallot is golden brown, about 4 minutes.
  • Add corn kernels, 1 teaspoon coarse salt, and 3/4 teaspoon pepper.
  • Sauté until corn is tender, about 5 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and mix in all herbs. Season to taste with salt.
  • Transfer corn to bowl and serve.

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