We’re in the throes of corn season here in Southern Ontario.
For the past five weekends, one or both of us has stopped either at the corn stand at the corner or the market down the road for a dozen local ears.
The best corn, as any farmer would tell you, is picked, cooked and eaten within hours (or minutes if you’re within running distance of the field).
We usually consume ours within a day of picking and hours of buying. We bring it home, remove the silk (a rather finicky process) and soak the cobs, husks and all, in a big pot of cold water.
We grill the whole lot (plus whatever else might be on the dinner menu) on our Weber Ranch Grill. The resulting flavour is smoky sweet. We (and any guests) can easily eat two or three cobs apiece for dinner.
I cut the leftovers off the cobs, freeze in single layer on a baking sheet and pack into freezer bags. It’s perfect for my charred corn and sausage chowder, a favourite quick weekday supper during the winter.
The weekend before last, I decided to branch out and use half of our regular dozen to make some corn relish. My brother-in-law was raving about the store-bought variety at a recent barbecue and my first goal of preserving is to make a better, healthier version of the products my family loves and uses all the time.
I adapted the recipe only slightly from the original from The Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving by Ellie Topp and Margaret Howard.
The original recipe calls for fresh cilantro to be added last minute. But since all mine has gone to seed and I prefer coriander (seeds of the cilantro plant) anyway, I substituted the dried for the fresh as indicated below. I also used shepherd rather than red bell pepper because I find the flavour more intense.
I ended up with six 250 mL (1 cup) jars, although the recipe says it makes 1,125 mL (4-1/2 cups). I may have been a little generous is my measurement of the corn.
First taste deems this a winner — although it is a little drier than I anticipated, more like a corn salsa than a corn relish. I expect, like most pickles, the flavour will improve over time.
Fiesta Corn Relish
5-6 large ears fresh corn
1 hot yellow pepper, seeded and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
375 mL (1-1/2) cups cider vinegar
80 mL (3/4) cup sugar
125 mL (1/2 cup) chopped red onion
125 mL (1/2 cup) chopped red shepherd pepper
80 mL (1/3 cup) chopped green onions
5 mL (1 tsp) ground cumin
5 mL (1 tsp) coriander
5 ml (1 tsp) pickling salt
2 mL (1/2 tsp) freshly ground black pepper
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add corn, cover and cook for 6 minutes. Drain and cool until easy to handle. With a sharp knife cut kernels from cob and measure 1 L (4 cups) into a large stainless steel or enamel pan.
2. Add hot pepper, garlic, vinegar, sugar, onion, red pepper, green onions, cumin, coriander, salt and black pepper to saucepan. Bring to boil over high heat, reduce heat and boil gently, uncovered, for 20 minutes.
3. Remove hot jars from canner and ladle relish into jars to within 1 cm (1/2 inch) of rim (head space). Process 15 minutes for 250 mL and 500 mL jars.