Waste Not, Want Not

Making Use of a Heavy Sweetcorn Harvest

Sweetcorn is a great favourite with many people. It is a most satisfying crop to grow in a vegetable garden. You can almost see it growing and then the cobs start to appear, small at first then swelling with juicy kernels getting fatter and fatter. To pull off a few cobs late in the afternoon and eat them that evening is surely a great gastronomic delight.

However, it is possible to have too much of a good thing, particularly in the harvesting world of home grown vegetables so when you need to ring the changes with sweet corn, here are a few recipes to ring the changes.

SweetcornCredit: Wikimedia

The first is a tasty sweetcorn and spring onion tart. There is a delicious contrast between the sweetness of the corn and the sharp freshness of the spring onions.

To serve 4, you'll need:

  • 1 22cm pre-baked shortcrust pastry base
  • 2 heads sweet corn
  • 1 cup chopped spring onions
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup milk or cream or a combination of both
  • ½ grated parmesan cheese (optional)
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

Wet the heads of corn and place in a 200oC oven for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove when steaming and leave until cool enough to handle. Or you can microwave them for 4 minutes. Then strip off the outside leaves and the silky fibres. Remove the kernels and spread over the pastry base. Then spread the spring onions over the top and season well. Lightly beat the eggs, combine with the milk/cream. Season this mixture then pour over corn and spring onions. Sprinkle with parmesan and bake at 200oC until golden brown. The filling should be slightly puffed.


Corn Fritters

Corn fritters are easy to make and a great accompaniment for a light meal or with bacon and eggs for breakfast.

Mix 4 ounces self-raising flour, pinch salt, an egg, a small can of drained corn (or several tablespoons of kernels if using fresh corn) and a generous ¼ pint of milk. Fry spoonfuls in hot oil until crisp and golden brown on both sides.

Norpro Stainless Steel Corn Cutter and Creamer
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This stainless steel appliance will be
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Bacon And Sweetcorn Chowder

Sweetcorn is popular in soups and this bacon and sweetcorn chowder is sure to hit the spot.

Fry 100 grams diced streaky bacon in 25 grams of butter over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Add an onion, a leek, 2 carrots and 2 stalks of celery (all peeled and sliced). Cook for 4 minutes, stirring. Add 300 ml chicken stock and bring to the boil. Add 220 grams peeled and diced potatoes. Return to boil, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

Add 425 gram of sweetcorn kernels and 450 mls of milk. Return to simmer for 3 minutes. Add salt, freshly ground black pepper and a pinch of cayenne pepper to taste. Stir in 6 tablespoons double cream and allow to heat through without boiling then stir in 25 grams butter. Garnish with chopped parsley. Delicious with hot crusty bread!

An excess of sweetcorn is good excuse to make a few jars of pickle for a future occasion or two. This recipe is made in the microwave so it is quick to make.

  • Firstly, sterilise some jars and have them ready. They should be hot when the pickle is spooned into them.
  • Place a chopped onion in a large bowl, cover and cook on full power for a minute.
  • Mix 2 teaspoons mustard powder, 1 teaspoon curry powder, half a teaspoon turmeric, 2 teaspoons flour and half a teaspoon salt to a paste with two tablespoons of water. Add to onion and blend well.
  • Add 6 ounces baby sweet corn, cut into ½ inch lengths, 2 ounces thin green beans also cut into ½ inch lengths, 1 ounce sliced gherkins, 1 diced courgette, pinch ginger, 3 ounces sugar, 6 black peppercorns and 6 fluid ounces pickling vinegar.
  • Cook on full power for 15 minutes. Stop the oven every 5 minutes and stir. The mixture should thicken. Spoon into jars, seal and label.
Brushtech Sweet Corn Silk Removing Brush
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This dish-washer safe brush will make
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corn cobs.

Freezing Sweetcorn

Sweetcorn freezes well and can be stored in the freezer ready to be thawed and eaten when needed. It can be frozen on or off the cob, although freezing off the cob will take much less room, leaving space for all the other home-grown vegetables you're hopefully inundated with.

By blanching sweetcorn (and most other vegetables suitable for freezing), the enzymes which cause changes in colour, texture and flavour are destroyed. Corn will keep longer and look and taste better if blanched before freezing. Begin timing the procedure from the time you place the corn in the boiling water. Whole kernels should be blanched for 4 to 6 minutes and whole cobs about 7 to 11 minutes for small ears, 9 to 14 minutes for medium and 11 to 17 minutes for large ears.

However if you intend to eat the corn within a few weeks, you don't really need to blanch.

Corn for freezing should be ripe but not bloated. The kernels should puncture easily with a fingernail and the juice should be milky. Freeze your corn as soon after picking as you can as the sugars in the ears will start to break down immediately the ears are picked.

  • Husk the cobs and rub off as much of the silk as possible. Using your largest pot, fill it ¾ full with water and bring to a full rolling boil. Place the pot across two burners if necessary.
  • Fill a large bowl with ice and cold water.
  • Place cobs in the boiling water for the required time then plunge into the iced water to prevent over-cooking. The water should return to the boil within a minute or two. If it doesn't, use more water (or less cobs) for each batch or a higher heat.
  • Drain thoroughly. Hold the ear by the small end and slide a very sharp knife down the cob. Cut about 2/3 the depth of the kernels. The corn may come off in strips but will separate as it is handled.
  • Place kernels into Ziploc bags or, even better, into vacuum sealed bags. Vacuum sealing removes more air and the corn will keep much longer. Label the bags and place in the freezer.

If the corn is so juicy that the vacuum sealer won't seal because of juice being pulled to the top of the bag, then place the bags in the freezer for a few hours before vacuum sealing.

OXO Good Grips Corn Stripper
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This handy gadget makes light work
of stripping corn cobs. It's also
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Cream Style Corn

For cream style corn, cut the kernels to only ½ their depth then use the back of the knife to scrape the juice and residual kernels into the bowl. Or you can cut and scrape the cobs without blanching. Place the kernels in a double boiler, heat and stir constantly for ten minutes (or until it thickens) then place the pan in iced water to cool.

To serve corn from the freezer, allow 3 to 4 minutes in the microwave or in the top of a double boiler. It is already cooked so just needs heating.

For best results, pick ears early in the morning. Ears should be at peak ripeness. Process as soon as possible after picking; otherwise keep cool in a refrigerator or on ice.

Sweetcorn, fresh from the garden, has just the best taste. It isn't hard to grow and now you won't need to waste any of your harvest.