Finding sweet corn at a roadside stand or farmers market is one of the best treats of summer. Every year, growers try new hybrid varieties to tempt their shoppers to buy more.
This year, you might see sweet corn with unfamiliar names:
Temptress: Promises exceptionally tender kernels and great sweet corn flavor.
Supersweet Jubilee: Sometimes said to be the best-tasting supersweet variety available.
Gotta Have It: A Gurney’s hybrid that is fantastic for freezing.
Kate: A new bicolor supersweet that also boasts excellent eating quality.
Super Surprise: Another bicolor sweet corn that does well at farmers markets and roadside stands.
Caliber: Best for eating fresh with superb flavor.
I look hard for older, sometimes heirloom varieties of corn, like Country Gentleman, Golden Bantam and the venerable Trucker’s Delight. But they are the very devil to find.
As Americans have cultivated palates that prefer sugar over all other flavors, farmers find their customers prefer the supersweet and sugar-enhanced varieties. These hybrids, conventionally bred so their sugars are high and take longer to convert into starch, hold and ship better, too. They are not genetically engineered.
Some new varieties, however, have been bred to allow the use of Roundup and other pesticides. If the grower tells you the name of the variety is some combination of letters and numbers, that’s probably the case. Ask the grower if you can.
Some varieties are better for freezing and canning than others. Gotta Have It freezes well, but Temptress, bred to have tender kernels with thin skins, may turn mushy after freezing. Again, ask the grower if you can.
How to freeze
Freezing corn is the easiest way to preserve it. It may be frozen as whole ears, in the husks, without blanching. After freezing, cook it, still in the husks, in the microwave for 3-4 minutes on high. Let it cool a bit before shucking. If you prefer to freeze it on the cob without the husks, blanch medium-size ears for 7-8 minutes and cool immediately in an ice-water bath. Then freeze.
Blanch kernels cut from the ears, too; blanch the whole ears for about 4 minutes, cool immediately, then cut the kernels from the ears. If you tumble the kernels onto a rimmed backing sheet and freeze before packing in zip-close bags, you’ll find it easier to portion out the frozen corn later.
How to can
Canning corn must be done in a pressure canner for food safety reasons (the exceptions are vinegary relishes, such as the one we offer here). Pints need to process for 55 minutes, quarts for 85 minutes. It’s best to consult a canning resource such as the National Center for Home Food Preservation (nchfp.uga.edu) for specifics. Note that supersweet and sugar-enhanced varieties may brown a little from the caramelization of their sugars in the canner.
A pro tip
Dig out your tube pan or bundt pan when you cut corn kernels off the cob. Stand the cob upright in the center hole, and the kernels will fall into the pan as you cut.
Start to finish: 130 minutes
2 medium ears sweet corn, to yield about 1 cup kernels
2 medium zucchini (about 11/2 pounds), grated
21/2 teaspoons salt
2 green onions, thinly sliced
6 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
11/4 cups half-and-half or whole milk
1 cup cubed cambozola, fontina or brie cheese
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 21/2-quart souffle dish; dust lightly with flour. Cut corn from cobs; place kernels in a large bowl.
Place the zucchini in a colander set into the sink. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt, and toss. Let stand, 30 minutes. Rinse and drain well; blot dry with paper towels or wring in a clean cloth towel. Add the zucchini and green onions to the corn kernels.
Meanwhile, separate the eggs; let stand at room temperature, 30 minutes. After standing time, beat egg yolks well in a small bowl. Add to corn-zucchini mixture.
Stir in the remaining 11/2 teaspoons salt, plus the pepper and nutmeg; gradually stir in the half-and-half or milk. Stir in the cheese.
In a large bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer on high speed until stiff but not dry. Gently stir 1/4 of the whites into the corn mixture. Fold in remaining egg whites. Transfer to prepared dish.
Bake until top is puffed and center appears set, 45-50 minutes. Serve immediately.
Nutrition information per serving: 158 calories, 11 g fat, 6 g saturated fat, 137 mg cholesterol, 7 g carbohydrates, 2 g sugar, 10 g protein, 520 mg sodium, 1 g fiber.
GREEN CHILE-CHEESE-CORN SPOON BREAD
Start to finish: 70 minutes
3 medium ears sweet corn, to yield about 11/2 cups kernels
2 cups milk
2/3 cup cornmeal
2 tablespoons butter
3/4 teaspoon coarse or sea salt
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce, such as Tabasco or Frank’s, or more to taste
2 teaspoons dried oregano, crumbled
1/2 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
1 can (4 ounces) hot or mild diced green chiles, drained
4 eggs, separated
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a heavy 10-inch skillet or an 8-inch square baking dish. Cut the kernels from the ears of corn, and set aside.
Mix the milk, cornmeal, butter, salt, hot sauce and oregano in a medium saucepan. Bring just to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer until slightly thickened, stirring frequently, 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
Stir in the cheese, chiles and corn kernels. Let stand until slightly cooled, 10-15 minutes.
Beat the egg yolks in a small bowl. Stir into cornmeal mixture. Beat the egg whites in a medium bowl with an electric mixer on high speed until soft peaks form. Stir 1/4 of the egg whites into the cornmeal mixture until well-mixed. Gently fold in remaining egg whites. Pour into skillet or baking dish.
Bake until top is browned and center is slightly loose (a knife inserted into center comes out clean), 25-30 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
Nutrition information per serving: 193 calories, 9 g fat, 5 g saturated fat, 112 mg cholesterol, 20 g carbohydrates, 4 g sugar, 9 g protein, 359 mg sodium, 2 g fiber.
GRILLED CORN RELISH
Start to finish: 85 minutes
Makes: Four 8-ounce jars, or about 41/2 cups
5 ears of corn, shucked
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 green pepper, stemmed, seeded, finely chopped
1/4 head cabbage, finely chopped
1 cup cider vinegar
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon each of dry mustard powder, celery seed and mustard seed
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 cup sugar
Grill or broil the ears, turning frequently, until the kernels have begun to char, 10-12 minutes. Cut kernels from cobs. Set corn aside, discarding cobs.
Place corn and chopped vegetables in a large pot. Pour 1/2 cup vinegar over vegetables. Moisten the salt, flour, mustard powder, celery seed, mustard seed and turmeric with remaining 1/2 cup vinegar; stir to combine. Stir into vegetable mixture, along with the sugar.
Over medium-high heat, bring mixture to a boil; reduce heat to a gentle boil and cook, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes. Allow to cool before storing in the refrigerator in covered containers.
This relish will keep up to 6 weeks in the refrigerator. For longer storage, ladle relish into clean, hot 8-ounce jars. Wipe rims. Apply lids. Process in a boiling-water bath for 15 minutes, beginning timing when water in canner returns to a full rolling boil. Remove canner lid. Let stand 5 minutes, then remove jars, cool and store.
Nutrition information per tablespoon: 55 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 12 g carbohydrates, 7 g sugar, 1 g protein, 782 mg sodium, 1 g fiber.