Corn on the cob (sweetcorn)
Sweetcorn is a form of maize that has been cultivated since the nineteenth century. Maize (known as corn in the USA and elsewhere) has been an important foodstuff for thousands of years. It was eaten by Mexican and central American cultures as early as 3,400 B.C. and fuelled the Aztec Empire as well as the Mayan and the Inca civilizations.
It is widely thought that the Spanish brought maize back to Europe in the fifteenth century from where it then spread to east Asia and Africa. However this view does not go unchallenged and there is some evidence in support of an alternate theory (with far-reaching consequences for historians) that maize actually spread west from the Americas to Asia before its spread eastwards from Europe.
Sweetcorn gathered popularity in the UK after World War II and is now grown extensively across southern England.
Sweetcorn provides useful amounts of vitamins A, B3 (supports metabolism, the nervous and digestive systems) and C. It also contains folic acid and fibre.
By late summer young, tender sweetcorn starts to appear in the shops and markets. At their best, the husks should be green and fresh and the tassel at the end should be fine and silky to indicate that the corn has not long been picked. For the best flavour, sweetcorn should be eaten as soon as it’s picked, a bit of a tall order unless you grow it yourself or go to a pick-your-own farm. Eaten when really fresh, you will enjoy the sweetness of the kernels which should be plump and juicy and full of flavour.
Look for cobs with the husk intact. The husk should be green and fresh and conceal fine, silky threads. Kernels should be tightly packed, plump and smaller at the tips than in the middle (indicating young cobs).
To boil, strip the husk and silk and trim the stems. Cook in unsalted boiling water (salt will toughen the kernels) until the sweetcorn yields to a fork tip (anything from 3 to 10 minutes or more, depending on the condition of the corn). Season after cooking.
To barbecue, soak the whole corn, with husks, in water for 10 minutes before cooking in the embers or over a moderate heat for 15 minutes or more, until toasted. Alternatively, soak the corn and remove the husk before brushing with a little oil and grilling.
To remove kernels from a corn cob, trim one end to produce a flat surface, stand the corn vertically on the flat end and cut down the length of the cob at the base of the kernels. Turn the cob and repeat until all kernels have been stripped. This is much easier to do after cooking.
FARM FRESH EXPRESS SAY: Corn on the Cob! It’s delicious and so easy to cook and serve. Take off husks and silk and place cobs in a pan. Cover with cold water, bring gently up to boil and simmer for just a moment or so until easily pierced with a sharp knife. (Alternative is to add cobs to boiling water and boil for 5-7minutes - either way works!) Drizzle with Southdowns Butter from Bookham Cheese & Pasta (all available on our website).
BROADDITCH FARM SAY: We have Sweet Corn and Cauliflowers from the farm now. We still have our own courgettes, marrows and broccoli. We have also started lifting Marfona potatoes which are great “all rounders”
Spicy Fried Corn Cobs
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cobs sweetcorn, cut into 2 inch pieces
1 onion, chopped
fresh coriander, chopped roughly
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 inch piece of root ginger, peeled and grated
80 ml (3 fl oz) natural yoghurt
Heat the oil in a pan and fry the pieces of corn for around 10 minutes. Make sure you turn them often to avoid sticking. Remove from the pan. Add the onion and garlic and fry until soft. Stir in the garlic, coriander and ginger and continue to mix. Add the yoghurt, stirring all the ingredients together before adding the corncobs. Poach them gently in the sauce for 20 minutes before serving.
Buttered Corn on the Cob
1 corn on the cob
For the herby butter
2 tsp fresh chives, chopped
½ lemon, juice only
30g/1oz butter, cubed
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1. Place the corn cob into a pan with enough boiling water to cover, and place onto a high heat. Boil for 3-5 minutes.
2. Place a griddle pan on the hob, over a moderate-to-high heat.
3. When the corn begins to become tender, remove from the heat, drain carefully, and place onto the hot griddle pan. Griddle for 7-10 minutes, turning often, to ensure even cooking.
4. While the corn is cooking, make the herby butter by placing all the ingredients into a small saucepan over a medium heat.
5. It should only take 2-3 minutes for the butter to melt, and for all the flavours to infuse.
6. When the corn is cooked, place onto a serving plate and drizzle the herby butter over the top, to serve.
For the chilli jam
1 tomato, seeds removed, chopped
1 tsp tomato purée
1 tsp clear honey
large pinch dried chilli flakes
salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the chargrilled sweetcorn
1 corn cob
1 tbsp olive oil
1. For the chilli jam, place the tomato, tomato purée, honey, chilli flakes and a splash of water into a small saucepan. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and heat gently until combined and thickened.
2. For the chargrilled sweetcorn, heat a griddle pan until hot. Rub the corn with olive oil and chargrill for 10-12 minutes, turning occasionally, until tender.
3. To serve, carefully chop the corn into chunks and place onto a plate with a spoonful of chilli jam.
Preparation time 10 minutes
Cooking time 20 minutes
4 corncobs, husk removed
2 tbsp coarse grain mustard
2 tbsp clear honey
1 tbsp sunflower oil
1. Place the corncobs into a pan of boiling water and boil for 5 minutes.
2. Mix together the mustard, honey and oil. Take a knife and slice along through the corncob. Brush the honey and mustard marinade over the corn and into the slits, so that the flavour penetrates the corn. Wrap in a loose foil parcel with tightly sealed edges so that air can circulate.
3. Barbecue for 20 minutes, basting every now and again with any leftover marinade. If you prefer baking them in the oven, preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan/Gas Mark 6 and bake wrapped in foil, on a baking tray for 20 minutes.
Sweetcorn, vegetables and cod roast
Preparation time 10 minutes
Cooking time 40 minutes
2 corncobs, husk removed
3 courgettes, thickly sliced
1 red pepper, deseeded and cut into chunks
1 yellow pepper, deseeded and cut into chunks
1 green pepper, deseeded and cut into chunks
1 red onion, cut into wedges
3 tbsp lemon-flavoured oil
3 sprigs fresh thyme
4 portions Cod Loin
1. Preheat oven to 200C/180C Fan/Gas Mark 6. Place the corncob in a pan of boiling water and boil for 4-5 minutes. Drain and leave until cool enough to handle. Using a sharp knife, cut each corncob into 4 chunks.
2. Place the corn in a large roasting tray. Add courgettes, peppers and red onion. Drizzle with the lemon-flavoured oil and sprinkle with the thyme. Toss to coat the vegetables. Roast for 25 minutes. Toss the vegetables again, then add the fish, brush with pan juices and cook for a further 10-15 minutes until the fish is cooked – it will be opaque and the flesh will flake easily. Serve immediately.