Reciplease! Sweet corn is taking over the free world

recipleaselogoDriving around the back roads of southern York County is now more precarious than ever.

I can’t see around corners anymore, for one thing. Oh, and the deer are becoming more brazen than ever, coming out into the road because they have a hiding place to leap right back into if I come too close.

“Knee-high by July” is the verbal measuring tape for sweet corn, and that means that by August, the corn is on track to tower over a person of typical height. And to block my view of the road around a sharp turn.

The stuff of horror movies, or the stuff of deliciousness? Photo by Flickr user tikarasha.

The stuff of horror movies, or the stuff of deliciousness? Photo by Flickr user tikarasha.

Now usually, I have my little man strapped in his car seat, or I’m trolling for roadside produce stands, so I’m not, ahem, speeding around on these back roads. But still, this corn is reinventing my horizon, my landscape.

Sweet corn is everywhere. And it’s just getting really good.

The only thing left to do is eat all of it.

Did you know: In our region, corn is a prolific crop. Next to soybeans and wheat, it’s one of the most commonly grown plants. Besides being shucked, grilled, slathered with butter and devoured at picnics, corn is used to make corn syrup and oil, to feed livestock and to create fillers for plastic, dyes and other industrial products.

Shucked and ready to go. Photo by Flickr user baysmom.

Shucked and ready to go. Photo by Flickr user baysmom.

Prep: Who hasn’t shucked corn? It’s not hard. The Kitchn has an excellent guide to shucking corn, but the main thing to remember is to remove as much of the silk as you can. It might seem tedious, but you’ll be happy later when your teeth aren’t full of strands. Once the ears are clean, either boil them for corn on the cob, or remove the kernels — I like to use my mandolin slicer to do this, but standing the corn up and running a sharp paring knife down the sides works just as well.

We all know how to boil or grill and eat corn on the cob. Here are a couple quick and easy ways to use corn differently.

This corn relish is a good topper for fish, shrimp, or crusty bread, but is also a great side.

This corn relish is a good topper for fish, shrimp, or crusty bread, but is also a great side.

Nectarine, corn and tomato relish (adapted from Delish)

  • 3 firm, ripe nectarines, sliced into chunks
  • 1 cup yellow cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • Corn kernels cut from 2 small or 1 large ear of sweet corn
  • 2 scallions, sliced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional: 1 ripe avocado, cut into chunks (This can’t fail.)

Super-complicated instructions: Combine in a bowl. Stir. Wipe sweat from brow. Serve immediately.

This relish would be great with grilled white fish, if you eat meat, or over slices of artisan bread (drizzle bread with a little more olive oil first).

I usually don’t save anything that has avocado in it because avocado quickly turns brown unless you douse it with lemon juice, but, happy surprise, the citrus in the nectarines has the same effect as lemon. When I checked the leftovers (disclaimer: there were only leftovers because I got happy with the prepping and made a double batch), the avocado was still perfectly green. So, double or triple this recipe with no fear of wasting anything. It should keep at least through the next day.

And because I was too intrigued, I’m offering a second recipe (though there are two dozen at Delish):

Coconut creamed corn (adapted from Delish)

  • Kernels cut from 4 ears of sweet corn
  • 1 cup light coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional: ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper (for a little kick)

Combine corn, milk and salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until most of the milk has evaporated (up to 15 minutes). Remove from heat and stir in cilantro, lime juice and any other spices.

I think this recipe would be killer with fish tacos or bean burritos. If you’re a coconut fanatic of an omnivore, it would nicely compliment some crispy coconut shrimp, too.

Canning: Check out the upcoming issue of Smart for a how-to story on canning and preserving your garden or farm bounty. Corn is easily preserved, so you can even make the creamed corn recipe in the dead of winter, if you also freeze some fresh cilantro.

Stacia M. Fleegal

York Daily Record multiplatform journalist. Degrees in creative writing from Lycoming College and Spalding University, and a coupla books with my name on them. Central PA native who came home after floating around for a while, but always grounded by words and the places and people I remember.

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