Every September in Vermont, I’m invited to two corn parties hosted by friends from different social circles. Fortunately, one couple plans for their corn to ripen by the second week of September, and the other plans for the third week. But the truth is, no matter how accurately you plan and plant, no matter how big a party you throw, at some point, corn on the cob starts to feel — excuse the pun — like it’s coming out of your ears. If you plant some super-sweet corn, you can pile up the ears in the refrigerator — but who has the space? When it’s time to move on from corn on the cob, you’ll need to get creative.
Creativity often requires recipes that call for taking the kernel off the cob. The easiest way to do this is to husk the corn and then cut the bottom of the ear so it can stand flat. Set the ear on its new flat base and slice down the sides with a sharp knife. Kernels will go flying, so be prepared and work in an uncluttered area to make cleanup easier.
If you’re making a soup, sauce, or some other wet preparation, scrape the cobs with the dull side of a knife to extract the delicious “milk.”
Generally speaking, stovetop recipes don’t require the same measurement accuracy as baking. This is a good thing, because an ear of corn can yield anywhere from 1⁄2 cup to 1 cup of kernels. So if you’ve husked too many ears, you can throw the extra kernels into whatever you’re preparing, or snack on it by the handful — fresh sweet corn is just that good.
Preserving garden surplus is serious business, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do a little experimenting. Knowing that tart fruits are sometimes poached in a sugar syrup before dehydrating, I wondered what would happen if I poached sweet corn kernels in a syrup before dehydrating. Would I make candied corn?
The answer is yes! But is this process a practical solution to storing an abundance of corn? That depends on how much candy you want to have around. My dehydrator has four 11-inch drying racks, so I don’t make much candied corn at a time. Each of my 11-inch trays holds the kernels of about 2 ears of corn (roughly 2 cups), so I can plan on using 8 ears of corn per batch of candied corn.
The best-tasting syrup to use for candied corn is pure maple syrup, which gives the corn kernels a caramel flavor. I use maple syrup when I have some left over from the previous year’s harvest, but you can make a syrup out of water and brown sugar. Flavor it with cinnamon or vanilla, if you’d like.The final step: Toss the corn with some flaked salt to give it that sweet-salty flavor many of us find so irresistible.
- 3 cups water
- 2 cups brown sugar
- 8 ears corn, husked, and kernels, sliced off the cob
- 1 to 2 tbsp coarse, flaked salt, such as Maldon
- Combine the water and brown sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the corn and return to a boil. Remove from the heat and let it sit for 30 minutes.
- Drain the corn and spread it out on dehydrator trays. Dry at 125 degrees Fahrenheit for 24 hours. Then, let cool for about 1 hour.
- Transfer the corn to an airtight container. Add the salt to taste, and toss. You can store candied corn at room temperature for up to 1 month, or in the freezer for longer storage.
- Deluxe Corn Risotto Recipe
- Pan-Seared Corn and Pepper Salad Recipe
- Barbecued Bean Cornbread Supper Recipe
Andrea Chesman cooks, writes, and teaches in Vermont, where she lives on a 1-acre homestead. Her book 101 One-Dish Dinners is available below.