That was a very painful few weeks–what did we ever do before smart phones? I was so annoyed at the slow data speed and the cracked screen that even though I’ve been beavering away in the kitchen, all I’ve been able to do is take pictures. But I have processed 20/30 pints of corn, a couple dozen pints of salsa, tomato jam and beet and horseradish relish. So I have been busy and tired at the end of the day.
The corn this year is particularly scrummy. Lots of heat, infrequent but heavy rain showers–the sugar content is very high. Extra Early Super Sweet is the best name ever. I have been growing this corn for years. I always thought that sweet corn was one of those food items you ate only for the taste, not the nutrition. A guilty pleasure slathered in butter and salt– enjoyed infrequently, seasonally, as it ripened in the garden. Then I stumbled across these few fun facts and they changed the way I thought about corn.
***Myth #1: Most sweet corn is genetically modified.
Truth: A lot of people mix up “sweet corn,” the vegetable you buy to eat, and “field corn”—the virtually inedible commodity crop used to make everything from livestock feed to ethanol to high-fructose corn syrup. While most field corn is genetically modified, most sweet corn is not. Last year only 3 to 4% of the sweet corn grown in the U.S. was GMO. Food-giant Monsanto hopes to change all that this summer, however. For the first time, farmers are planting Monsanto’s newly approved, genetically modified Performance sweet-corn seeds. (Another reason not to eat grocery store niblets).
Myth #2: Corn is fattening and sugary.
Truth: An ear of corn has about the same number of calories as an apple and less than one-fourth the sugar. In other words, it can be one of the healthier foods at the cookout! Just remember: while sweet corn is healthy, some of the toppings people like to put on it aren’t. So don’t assume an ear of corn slathered in butter and doused in salt is still a healthy option.
Myth #3: Cooking corn makes it less nutritious.
Truth: Antioxidant activity, which helps protect the body from cancer and heart disease, is actually increased when corn is cooked.
Myth #4: Corn has no healthy benefits.
Truth: Sweet corn is loaded with lutein and zeaxanthin, two phytochemicals that promote healthy vision. A midsize ear also offers a helpful 3-gram dose of dietary fiber.
Myth #5: The best way to choose corn is by the color of the kernels.
Truth: Although corn lovers often profess to have favorite varieties, variety is far less important than freshness. Nor is color a key to quality. Yellow, white, bi-color—it doesn’t really matter. Preferences vary from region to region. Avoid corn with dry, pale husks and silks that are desiccated where they enter the cob. If pricked, kernels should squirt whitish juice. As for choosing the best-tasting corn, abide the “one-day rule.” Don’t buy a cob that’s more than 24 hours out of the field.***
I used to only eat it fresh from the garden, make some corn relish and then give the rest away. I never considered preserving it any other way. But after reading these myth busters, this year I am preserving the harvest by making creamed corn and freezing the kernels. Creamed corn can be used as a side dish, added to soups or stews, think chili, and made into corn bread or pudding.
Cream the kernels, that is, cut the corn off the cob (halfway thru the kernel) and then run the knife down the cob to squeeze out the milk and tender insides. add butter and half and half just to keep it juicy and moist, and bake in the oven till hot and bubbling.
The baking destroys the enzymes that spoil food, much in the same way blanching produce before freezing protects it. Spoon into freezer bags, squeeze the air out and flatten the bags to make it easier to store and faster to freeze.
The measurements are not an exact science–I cut corn till my hand cramped and formed a claw that wouldn’t relax (a large roaster full of kernels), a wob of butter (think of old cake recipes using butter the size of an egg–what size egg?? previous posts will show you they are not created equal) and a sploosh of cream (again, that old cake recipe calling for a teacupful of milk–Grandmas favorite cup?!?) I couldn’t stop eating it as I packaged it up. Sweet and tender and delicious. Also nutritious as I’ve now learned.
The corn relish is a new recipe. I’ll add a link here for those interested–this was the best corn relish I’ve ever made.
Everything came from the garden but the red pepper, I had to buy one because I like the color in the relish. I also added green pepper from the garden and a big handful of those hot Gypsy peppers.
I used my own garden onions–they are not sweet, but I had them. I also had tenish cups of corn (maybe more) as I cut till I thought I had enough, then measured and wasn’t going to give the chickens the extra. There is still corn in the garden so I will make another batch of relish, freeze some more and then start feeding the animals the stalks, as they love them too.