August was officially Jersey Fresh Peach Month in New Jersey, but let us not forget about our sweet corn. Fortunately for New Jersey, we are not suffering the draught that most of the country is experiencing, especially in the Midwest where corn is a major crop not only for feeding consumers but also livestock. Our farmers’ fields are abundant with succulent sweet corn growing as “high as an elephant’s eye.”
Some facts about sweet corn are: it is a good source of vitamin A, magnesium, and potassium, and is often considered to be a vegetable, rather than a grain. This confusion is probably due to the fact that it is eaten fresh like a vegetable. When harvested at the proper ripeness, the kernels of sweet corn are tender and have a sweet, juicy taste. The three types of sweet corn that are readily available are white corn (white kernels), yellow corn (yellow kernels), and a hybrid of both white and yellow, often referred to as peaches and cream or butter and sugar corn.
In buying fresh corn, look for husks that have good green coloring with pale colored silk. To check the freshness, pull the top of the husk away from the ear and pierce a kernel with your fingernail. If the kernel releases a slightly cloudy juice it is typically a fresh batch. If the kernels are dented or discolored, the corn is not fresh. Avoid sweet corn with dried or dark colored silk or discolored husks. Buying sweet corn from a road side stand may result in corn that has lost much of its sweetness from being exposed to high temperatures. The high temperatures will rapidly convert the corn’s sugar to starch, causing it to lose some of its sweet flavor.
It is best to eat sweet corn the day you buy it. If you need to store the corn, leave the corn in the husk and refrigerate as soon as possible. If corn has been husked, place it in a plastic bag and store in the refrigerator. Corn cut off the cob can be frozen for 6 months to a year. For more information about corn and Jersey’s other summer produce, as well as appetizing recipes, visit Jersey Fresh.
Corn recipes are as versatile as those for peaches and tomatoes ~ New Jersey’s super summer fresh produce. It can be grilled in the husk or off ~ and for a really easy way to husk the corn removing all the silk, check out the video in this article.
- 1 sweet onion, Vidalia or Maui, finely diced
- 2 Tbsp. butter
- 2 ½ cups grilled corn kernels*
- 5 cups chicken stock
- 1 large green pepper diced
- Freshly ground pepper & sea salt to taste
- 1 cup heavy cream or half & half
- Italian oregano to garnish
- Sauté the onion until translucent.
- Blend 2 cups of corn, onion and 1 cup stock in food processor until it is a slightly smooth purée.
- Combine remaining stock, green pepper and the purée in a saucepan. Season with salt and pepper and cook over low heat for 10 minutes.
- Whisk cream or half & half into soup bringing to a boil.
- Serve immediately garnished with grilled corn and oregano.
*To grill corn, heat a gas grill to medium or charcoal embers at medium heat. Spray cobs lightly with olive oil and salt with a good seasoned sea salt. Place on grill and keep rotating until the kernels are lightly and evenly charred. Cool and slice kernels off cobs. (Save cobs for their milk to make a nice, flavorful stock).
If you prefer to cook the corn, bring a small amount of water (enough to cover cobs) to a boil. Add about a tablespoon of milk** to the water. Put cobs in water, return to a boil and simmer for three minutes. It is important not to overcook the corn to maintain its tenderness.
**This tip with the milk was one learned from the late, great “Dean of American Cuisine,” James Beard.
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