Growing up, I remember vividly long drives through the Okanagan that were punctuated by stops at roadside stands for farm fresh corn, dripping with butter. No junk food in the world could compete with the sweet and savoury crunch that corn, minutes off the farm, delivers. Not just a local food, corn is an indigenous staple of the Americas (well, south of Vancouver at least), corn has plenty of nutrition benefits, giving you even more reason to enjoy this summer staple while it is here.
The sunny yellow hue of fresh corn comes from anti-oxidant pigments lutein, zeaxanthin and beta carotene, which support eye health and help defend against the oxidative stress of modern life. Corn boasts plenty of B vitamins folate and thiamin for a healthy heart and nervous system. Fresh corn is also a healthy source of fibre rich carbohydrates, making it a great base for stews and salads as an alternative to other grains.
Corn is at its peak in late summer and early fall. Choose ears with husks that are green and fresh (not dried out) and held tight to the ear. Then pull the husk back to ensure that kernels are plump and in tightly arranged rows; if they look shriveled or disorganized, toss them back! When you get your corn home, if you can resist eating it immediately, it keeps best with husks still attached. Store in the fridge for up to 3 days, tightly wrapped or in an air tight container.
Did You Know? You can eat fresh corn right off the stalk, no need to cook!
The GMO Issue
We can’t talk about corn without bringing up the issue of genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. Unfortunately, corn in its industrial form has become a staple of our hyper-processed New Food World: think high fructose corn syrup, maltodextrin and the like. Industrial corn feeds our food animals and fuels our cars. Corn has a bad rap because so much of it is genetically modified (more than 80% of theUS crop, according to the Non-GMO project) but there are ways to enjoy corn while reducing your exposure to GMOs. Corn destined for industrial uses and cereals is more likely to be genetically modified than sweet corn intended to be eaten fresh. Organic corn may fall victim to a small amount of cross-pollination but if you want to send a clear message that you prefer foods without GMOs, choose organic.
That unpleasantness aside, now on to the eating!
I have always just boiled my sweet corn but of course Heather had to kick it up a notch by grilling it on my brand new patio and then flavouring it with lime and hot paprika – so delish!
Colourful Corn Sauté
2 tsp vegetable oil
½ onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ red bell pepper, diced
1½ cups mushrooms, sliced
kernels from 2 ears of corn or about 1½ cups corn kernels
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp chili powder
3 green onions (green parts only), thinly sliced
Heat oil in a frying pan or saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté for 3 minutes or until onion is soft. Add bell pepper, mushrooms and corn and sauté for another 6-8 minutes. Stir in cumin and chili pepper and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in green onion and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Makes 4 servings.