Seasonings: Kentucky corn

BY ALETHEA PRICE

One of the most popular items that you can find at the Farmer’s Market or roadside stand this time of year is corn. For some of us, eating fresh corn off the cob is one of our top summertime-food experiences. Corn is one of the many great offerings at the Boyle County Farmers Market this month.

Corn is very high in fiber and B vitamins. It also is a source of niacin, folate and vitamin A. A low-fat food, a half-cup serving of corn has 90 calories.

At the market, select ears with green husks, moist stems and silk that is free of decay. Kernels should fill up the entire cob and be small, tender, plump and milky when pierced.

After purchasing, wrap ears in damp paper towels and place in a plastic bag. Store unshucked corn in the refrigerator for four to six days.

Sweet corn can be frozen on the cob, or cut off the cob. However, preserving will not improve the quality of the corn, so always start with high quality produce. Only tender, freshly gathered corn in the milk stage should be selected for freezing. Husk and trim the ears, remove silks and wash. 

Don’t forget to blanch the corn before packaging it for freezing. This process stops the enzymes in the corn from continuing to deteriorate the product. For loose kernel corn, boil for 4 minutes then place in ice water to stop the cooking process. Package in freezer safe containers, label, and freeze. For corn on the cobb, boil small cobbs for 7 minutes, medium cobbs for 9 minutes, and large cobbs for 11 minutes then place in ice water to stop the cooking. Package in freezer safe containers, label, and freeze. Now you’ve locked in the freshness.

Canning corn is another great way to preserve this tasty vegetable. I can’t stress to you enough how safe it is to use a pressure canner. Before canning corn, or any vegetable, check out the new pressure canning publications from the Extension Office. If you have any questions at all about pressure canning, please don’t hesitate to ask. I’ve got lots of recipes and safety tips to ensure you preserve a safe, high quality product.

Farmers harvest corn in July and August in Kentucky. You can boil, steam, roast, microwave or grill it. It is naturally sweet so try to avoid using butter, salt or other seasonings that make it unhealthy. Instead, flavor with fresh lemon or lime juice, or season it with fresh herbs like thyme, paprika, garlic powder or black pepper.

Corn is a tasty side dish by itself or you can use it as an ingredient in many dishes as you will see in the Plate It Up! Kentucky Proud recipe below.

For more Plate It Up! Kentucky Proud recipes, visit http://fcs-hes.ca.uky.edu/piukp-recipes or contact the extension office for recipe cards.

If you have questions or comments about the column, or if you’d like more information feel free to contact me by email at thekitchenagent@gmail.com.

Corn and sweet potato confetti salad

3 cups sweet potato, peeled and diced

3 ½ cups cut fresh corn kernels (7 ears) or frozen corn kernels

2 green bell peppers, diced

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 small red onion, diced

1 tablespoon olive oil

½ cup cider vinegar

½ teaspoon salt

Yield:

16, ½ cup servings

Bring 1 cup of water to a boil in a 2-quart saucepan; add diced sweet potatoes. Cook sweet potatoes 10 minutes or until slightly tender. Drain and set aside. Remove shucks and silks from fresh corn ears; cut kernels from cob. Dice peppers and red onion. Heat olive oil in a large skillet on medium setting; add sweet potatoes and cook until slightly browned. Add peppers; cook five minutes; add corn kernels, cooking until tender. Combine red onion and cider vinegar in large bowl; add skillet vegetables; toss and salt to taste. Serve warm or refrigerate for chilled version.