There’s something about fresh-picked corn (and tomatoes and peaches) at roadside stands in New Jersey that makes my car immediately pull to the side of the road. Last weekend, on the ride home from the Shore, the signs reading “Fresh Corn - $2.99 a Dozen” forced me to make a bee-line to the roadside produce stand. And I certainly wasn’t disappointed. Jersey corn is coming into season, and ready for harvest.
Without question, the best tasting corn is pulled, cooked and eaten the same day. If it is not possible to eat the corn on the same day, keep it cool and refrigerate it. Choose corn with very green husks, and a stalk that is not dry.
Beware of a “trimmed” stalk that may indicate only a fresh appearance. Corn fresh from the fields tastes better because the kernels have not had a chance to change their sugar content to starch. This process starts to happen immediately when an ear of corn leaves the stalk.
Northeast Philly residents are lucky because of their close proximity to suburban and Jersey cornfields and stands, which afford an opportunity to enjoy corn at its best.
Corn on the cob can be boiled (salt in the water toughens the kernels), baked, microwaved, barbecued or roasted. Corn is also good in breads, chowders, puddings, relishes, salads, muffins and fritters.
The following recipe for corn fritters is one that I have enjoyed since childhood. It’s a good recipe to dispatch those extra ears of corn that may sometimes grace your refrigerator. There were literally bushels of corn available at our house in August because it was grown by my father, Farmer John. The following recipe bears his name, not because he made those fritters, but because he liked to eat them.
JOHN’S CORN FRITTERS
3 eggs, separated
3 cups corn (3 or 4 ears, cooked. Cut and scrape kernels from the cobs.)
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
5 Tbsp. flour
- Beat egg whites until stiff, and set aside.
- In a large bowl, beat egg yolks until light.
- Add corn, salt, pepper and flour to the beaten yolks.
- Fold the stiffly beaten egg whites into the corn mixture.
- Spray a large frying pan or skillet with canola oil spray.
- Drop corn mixture by large spoonfuls onto the hot pan or skillet.
- Fry fritters like pancakes so they are lightly browned on both sides.
- Serve with syrup, molasses or honey.
Fritters are especially good when served with sausage as a light dinner or brunch. They are also a good companion to kielbasa, ham, bacon or fish.
Leftover corn mixed with lima beans makes great succotash. Leftover corn is also good cut from the cob and heated with salt, pepper and butter. As an alternative, try the following recipe.
3 or 4 ears of cooked corn - (Cut and scrape kernels from the cobs.)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
¼ cup Parmesan cheese
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. lime juice
½ tsp. ground cumin
½ tsp. Frank’s Hot Sauce or Tabasco Sauce
¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Salt and Pepper to taste
- Remove kernels from cob and put into microwavable serving bowl.
- Whisk together oil, cheese, garlic, lime juice, cumin and hot sauce.
- Add to corn and mix.
- Heat one minute in microwave. Stir. Heat another minute.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Stir in cilantro and serve.
Corn or maize, as it is called in some European countries, is a native American crop. Supposedly, a group of pilgrims led by Miles Standish first found corn plants and recorded this discovery on Nov. 16, 1620. The Indians were already popping corn then, probably under the supervision of Chief Orville Redenbacher.
In cornclusion, the following far-fetched folklore from Shingling the Fog and Other Plains Lies is a really hot story: “A farmer was plowing corn with a team of mules. It got so hot the corn began popping. The mules thought it was snow, so they froze to death.” Believe it or not? That’s about as corny as it gets!
If you’re wondering if we will have a winter similar to last year’s, check the corn fields. According to my dad, “When the ears of corn grow high on the stalk, expect deep snow that following winter.” I’ll get back to you on that one.
Eat Well, Live long, enjoy!
(Questions or tips can be sent to Donna Zitter Bordelon at WhatcookinNEPhilly@gmail.com or in care of the Northeast Times, 3412 Progress Drive, Suite C, Bensalem, PA 19020)