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Enjoy Some Corn This Summer

Support your local farmers by purchasing fresh sweet corn at roadside stands and farmers markets this summer.

Sweet corn is a great way to add color and variety to your summer meals. One 6-inch ear of corn provides 60 calories, 0.5 gram (g) fat, 2 g protein, 14 g carbohydrate, 1.5 g fiber and 2 milligrams sodium. Sweet corn also has vitamin C, iron, thiamin and potassium.

Purchase corn that has the green husk still intact and a brown, dry silk top. The cob should not appear to have any damage or bugs.

Test the quality of the corn by using your fingernail to break a kernel on the cob. The best-quality corn will have a milky texture inside. If the liquid is white or creamy, the corn will have an unsatisfying flavor. The crop should have a sugary-sweet taste when perfectly ripened.

Sweet corn requires cleaning and preparation before being consumed. If you plan to prepare the sweet corn the same day you buy it, you can remove the husk and wash the ears under cool, running water. Do not use soap. Boiling or grilling are popular ways to eat fresh sweet corn.

The corn also can be stored in the refrigerator for later use. Fully shuck the ears and place them in cold water for about 30 minutes. Drain the water and wrap the ears in plastic. The corn can be stored in the refrigerator for a few days but should be eaten as soon as possible for best flavor.

An abundant amount of sweet corn can be preserved for you to enjoy year-round. Types of preservation include freezing, canning and drying.

You can freeze sweet corn in a few ways: whole-kernel, creamed-style or on the cob. Find a container or bag that is durable and leak-proof. Label the bag with contents and the date.

When ready to use, partially thaw the corn to ensure the kernels are able to cook thoroughly, which takes about 10 minutes. The quality of the corn will be best if used within 12 months of freezing.

Another way of preserving sweet corn is canning. A pressure canner must be used to process and preserve the corn to prevent any botulism risks. The canning process time for cream-style corn is approximately 85 minutes for 1 pint or 55 minutes for 1 pint of whole kernels.

Follow current pressure-canning procedures in the NDSU Extension Service publication “Home Canning Low-acid Vegetables” (FN173).

Drying sweet corn is a relatively easy process. Husk the corn and cut the kernels from the cob. Dehydrate the corn for six to eight hours, until the kernel becomes crisp and brittle. Store the dried corn in a glass jar, container or freezer bag. The crop will keep well for six to 12 months. Dried corn tastes great in soups, dips, stew or sauces.

Here is a side dish to make on the grill, paired with some lean protein.

Grilled Corn-on-the-Cob

1 red bell pepper, roasted, peeled, seeded and diced (optional or can substitute purchased red peppers)

1 Tbsp. butter
¼ c. fresh cilantro (optional)
2 Tbsp. chopped green onions
¼ tsp. salt
⅛ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
¼ tsp. Tabasco sauce (optional)
4 ears fresh sweet corn, husked

To roast bell pepper, place on baking sheet; broil in oven until blistered and charred. Put in heavy plastic or paper bag; seal; let set for 20 minutes. Peel skin; don’t worry about removing all the charred parts. To make pepper seasoning in a blender or food processor, combine the red pepper, butter, green onions and cilantro, if desired, and add salt, pepper and Tabasco sauce. Place each ear of corn in the center of a piece of aluminum foil, shiny side up. Coat each ear with a quarter of the pepper seasoning mixture. Wrap the foil around the corn, making sure the ear is well-sealed by the foil. Refrigerate until ready to grill. Preheat grill. Place corn on grill near the edges or cooler areas. Grill until tender, turning frequently, about 10 to 15 minutes. Carefully unwrap the corn and serve.

Makes four servings. Each serving has 130 calories, 5 grams (g) fat, 4 g protein, 21 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber and 170 milligrams sodium.

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Sources: Julie Garden-Robinson, NDSU Extension Service food and nutrition specialist, and McKenzie Schaffer, Extension program assistant

This project was supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service through grant 14-SCBGP-ND-0038. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the USDA.

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