Honestly, I’d been sampling sweet corn from late spring to mid-summer, hoping, each time, that by chance I’d get an ear or two sweet enough to satisfy my sweet corn tooth. Recently, after months of sampling this year’s spring corn from Florida, early summer corn from Georgia, and on occasion, June’s corn from Indiana and Ohio, I FINALLY bit into something worth getting by the ear full. Michigan Sweet Corn is NOW on the market and at Nino’s.
My first sweet mouthful came on a mid-July trip to the Eastern Market. Flanked by Nino’s Senior Produce Buyer Joe Santoro and Rob Ruhlig, owner and farmer of Ruhlig Farms in Carleton, Michigan, I stood in Shed #5 at 3:45 a.m. on a Thursday morning, stripping the husk of a freshly picked ear and eating it raw right off the cob. If it were any fresher, it would still have been in the ground. For July corn, it was pretty sweet but not nearly as sweet as I knew it would be in mid-to-late August. Yet, after enduring months of starchy, sweet corn wannabes, I felt satisfied. Now, THIS is sweet corn, I thought.
Almost everyone who enjoys sweet corn on the cob strips it at the grocery store or at a roadside stand and takes it home to be boiled and served with salt and butter, and that’s perfectly acceptable. BUT, there are other ways to enjoy all of its sweet, delicious flavor, including leaving it right in its husk while you cook it in your microwave oven. Even better, you can use the trick of cutting it off the stalk end and slipping the ear right out of its green jacket. And yes, as many of you have seen on YouTube, it actually works just as advertised.
Sweet corn is one of my VERY favorite foods, let alone vegetables, and I’ve written and blogged about it many times over the years. Here are a few links to some of my previous articles, all of which contain recipes and helpful tips.
Unfortunately, Michigan’s sweet corn won’t be around forever, but that doesn’t mean you have to be stuck without it. Here’s a tip!
Most information on freezing sweet corn has you blanching the corn on the cob, cooling it, stripping off the kernels, and then freezing them in air-tight Zip-Loc®-style plastic bags. You can actually skip the blanching part and strip fresh kernels off the cob and then freeze them, but they won’t last as long in your freezer (maybe a month or two). The reason? Enzymes in the corn begin to convert its sugar into starch the moment it’s picked from the farm. Blanching, or briefly cooking the corn stops the enzymes from doing this. Thus, the corn stays sweet and fresh picked.
Here’s my tip: Rather than boiling the shucked corn in water (while losing some of the corn’s flavor to the water that you’ll pour down the drain later), strip the raw kernels off the cob. Then, slowly simmer them in butter, salt, pepper and a small amount of water. All of those delicious corn juices will now be in your buttery sauce. Spread your cooked corn out onto a large platter, cool in your refrigerator, and then package in your plastic bags. This tip is one I use each fall when Michigan’s harvest is at its peak and corn is cheap.
Stop into Nino’s and stuff a bag or a freezer chest with one of Michigan’s agricultural treasures.