August and early September are THE two best months to enjoy the best sweet corn Michigan has to offer.
We’ve all been enjoying Michigan sweet corn for about a month now. And each pick, week after week, has been getting sweeter and sweeter.
This year’s crops are promising to be spectacular! And as usual, I’ve made it a point to pick up a half-dozen ears each week to see how their sweetness has been improving. And by the middle of this month, when our local corn is the sweetest (and cheapest), I’ll be doing my usual purchase of two crates to cook and prepare for my fall and winter freezing.
My routine is always the same: I husk each ear by stripping the raw kernels with a sharp knife and then rake the corn milk off each one with the back side of that knife.
Once I have bowls of cut corn, I gently simmer it in batches, with just a small amount of water and plenty of whole butter, freshly ground black pepper, and sea salt. Once cooled, I package my corn in 1-cup-size portions (with the resulting corn milk butter sauce) into 1-qt.-size Ziploc bags and freeze them in shoe-box-size plastic freezer containers. There is VERY little loss of quality, and if you take care to barely cook them, they’ll still be crisp and sweet.
Each year, my two cases seem to run out earlier and earlier. I’ll soon be out, but then again, it will be just in time for this year’s harvest!
I’ve written other blogs about our fabulous sweet corn and have even created a Nino’s flyer about Michigan sweet corn with recipes for everyone to enjoy. The links are below.
I have another one of my favorite sweet corn recipes to share with you this year.
Sweet Corn & Bacon Pancakes: Makes about 10 – 4” Pancakes
4 Strips Bacon, Cut in ¼” Strips on Bias
2 TBSP Salted Butter
¾ Cup Michigan Sweet Corn Kernels (About 1 Large Ear)
1/8 tsp Kosher Salt
1 Extra Large Egg
1 ¼ Cups Buttermilk
¼ tsp Vanilla Extract
1 TBSP Granulated Sugar
¾ Cup All-Purpose Flour
¼ Cup Yellow Cornmeal, Fine
1 tsp Baking Powder
½ tsp Baking Soda
- In a nonstick skillet, pan-fry the bacon on medium heat until bacon pieces are crisp.
- Remove bacon with 1 additional TBSP of bacon grease, and reserve in a small bowl until cooled.
- Wipe pan clean, and then, over medium heat, sauté corn for 4 to 5 minutes until it begins to brown ever so slightly. Sprinkle with salt and set aside to cool. Then, wipe out pan once again.
- In a large bowl, lightly beat egg and then whisk in buttermilk, corn, bacon (with grease), vanilla, and sugar.
- In a smaller bowl, whisk flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients, mixing until just combined but still lumpy in appearance.
- Reheat your skillet or sauté pan to medium. Brush the pan with butter, and ladle 1/4 cup batter at a time, 2 inches apart.
- When the pancakes have bubbles on top and are slightly dry around the edges, flip them over and cook them until golden brown underneath. If they seem to be cooking too quickly (dark on the outside, raw centers), turn your heat down to low for the next batch and inch it up as needed.
- Repeat with remaining batter and serve immediately with a pat of salted butter and Michigan maple syrup.
If you didn’t see last year’s recipe, here it is below.
Fresh Michigan Sweet Corn Custard: Makes Approximately 8 – ½ Cup Custards
2 Ears Michigan Sweet Corn, Shucked
1 QT Heavy Whipping Cream
½ Cup Granulated Sugar
½ tsp Sea or Kosher Salt
1 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract (or Paste)
2 Extra-Large Eggs
6 Extra-Large Egg Yolks
- Strip the kernels from the cobs, and while doing so, scrape down any of the cob’s juices with a knife. Cut the cobs in half, and place all into a medium-size saucepan with the cream, sugar, and salt. Stir and set aside for a few hours.
- After the mixture has rested, place it in a medium-size saucepan (with the cobs still in), bring it to a boil and then immediately remove it from the heat. Transfer the hot mixture into a separate storage container or bowl, and refrigerate it until cool.
- Preheat the oven to 275°F.
- In a medium-size bowl, beat together the eggs, the yolks, and the vanilla extract.
- Discard the corn cobs from the cream mixture, and then blend it until smooth with a food processor, immersion stick blender, or a traditional blender.
- Slowly add the beaten egg mixture to the corn mixture while continuing to blend.
- Strain this finished mixture into a bowl via a fine-mesh sieve (or strainer).
- Place eight 4-ounce ramekins (or custard cups) in a deep baking dish, and then divide the custard mixture among them.
- Add enough water to the baking dish (1 to 2 cups) to create some moisture, and then cover loosely with aluminum foil and bake for about 45 minutes, turning the dish around about halfway through the baking time to ensure even heat.
- When the corn custard gently springs back from touch, remove the pan from the oven and the ramekins from the water bath.
- Lightly cover the ramekins with plastic film to prevent a skin (like a pudding gets), and refrigerate approximately 3 to 4 hours or until fully chilled.