Conscious Cook: Local corn makes for a delectable summer relish

“I have no hostility to nature, but a child’s love to it. I expand and live in the warm day like corn and melons.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Summers’ heat lingers on, burning brightly and igniting the flesh of plump tomatoes, infusing hot peppers with incendiary warmth and prodding the corn crop to further glory. Local Connecticut grown corn is considered by many to be the king of summer crops! Succulent and sweet, fresh summer corn is truly a highlight of August and September.

Corn on the cob is the most widely enjoyed form of summer corn, and can be steamed, grilled or microwaved. Cut off the cob, those sweet kernels also lend themselves to so many delicious preparations, including stews, chowders, soups, breads, puddings, salsas and casseroles. Scatter them into pancake batter or fry up some fritters. Combine with cherry tomatoes, scallions, cilantro, olive oil and lime juice for a simple late summer salad. Corn relish is a sensational way to top grilled pork, shrimp or cheese quesadillas. There are even recipes for no-churn sweet corn ice cream and corn butter out there on the internet.

Corn is an excellent source of fiber, and eating more corn may possibly contribute to lowering high cholesterol levels, reducing the risk of colon cancer and aid in preventing lung cancer. Corn provides thiamin (vitamin B1), which aids brain function and memory retention, as well as vitamin B5, which supplies enhanced energy production. There is a rich supply of folate, manganese, phosphorous and vitamin C to be found in corn.

When choosing fresh corn, either at the supermarket, or from your local farmer, choose ears with greenish-brown silk at the ends. In more normal times, running your hand up the ear of corn to feel for kernel uniformity would give you an excellent idea of which ears to purchase. But during these days of COVID-19, know that the local crop is at its most luscious right now.The most important point is to consume that corn as quickly as possible. If you must hold your corn overnight, do not husk it and store it in the vegetable bin of your refrigerator. Corn should be shucked immediately before cooking, to prevent the natural sugars from turning starchy.

Preserve this sensational summer sweetness by freezing corn. Simply strip the kernels off the ears in long strokes using a well-sharpened knife. I do this in a large bowl to catch all the goodness. Run the opposite side of the knife blade back over the cob to release any remaining milky liquid. Spoon kernels and milk into freezer baggies and freeze for up to three months.

Love the warmth of summer corn as you prepare your delicious life!

Summer Corn Relish

Serve 4

2 cups cooked fresh corn kernels

1 small diced zucchini

1/2 cup finely chopped sweet onion

1/2 cup chopped sweet bell pepper

2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lime juice

1 tablespoon minced hot cherry pepper or jalapeno pepper

1 tablespoon each of chopped fresh basil, parsley, thyme

2 tablespoons white wine or rice wine vinegar

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a bowl, combine all ingredients. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Let rest for several hours in the refrigerator. Stir occasionally. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Serve on grilled meat, fish, shellfish or top quesadillas or bruschetta.

Robin Glowa, HHC, AADP, “the Conscious Cook,” writes about preparing a delicious life and presents healthy food workshops throughout New England. She is a professional cook, organic gardener and a graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and Columbia University Teachers College.