I’ve got a quick mini-recipe to share just before the summer ends and fresh veggies get a little harder to find here on our sliver of the globe. Hopefully you can still find local corn in your town - we’re making corn stock. You should prepare this if you’re already using fresh corn for something. Perhaps cornbread, creamed corn, fried corn cakes, or coconut sticky rice pudding with corn.
A few notes about fresh corn: first, wash it. To husk it, cut the ends off (about 1-2” on each side) and roll the cob to loosen the husk. It should peel easier this way. To remove the silk, I like to use a silicone-covered oven mitt; the grippiness helps. To cut the kernels off the cob, stand the corn up vertically in a large bowl, pin it at the top with a corn-cob holder, and slice down. Then scrape the cut cob with the back of your knife to get at all the delicious corn milk.
When corn is in season, you can do this and freeze what you don’t use. It’ll be nicer than the bagged stuff.
Forgot to mention something very important: while you’re doing all this, don’t throw anything out! Husks, cob ends, silk, stray pieces - put it all in a large pot. This is what we’ll make the stock with. You should remove any black or otherwise dirty bits of husk before you start, but anything else goes in the pot. It’s all corn-flavored.
Use enough water to cover the solids with about an inch of water. Add salt - a teaspoon per cob, maybe? - and a few shallots. You can add other vegetables if you’re not a corn purist, but I like it simple and focused. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a lightly bubbling simmer for half an hour to an hour, depending on the total quantity.
Taste as you go - when it’s as rich as a light soup, you’re done. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve and use immediately, or cool it in a wide bowl and freeze for later use. I made leek gravy with mine: quickly fried leeks, add garlic and flour, then stock and 20 minutes of thickening. Sweet and savory.
This is a great way to milk flavor out of food-parts you might normally throw out. It would take a whole new blog to share tips for highly efficient food use, but while we’ve got your attention, here’s a few quick ones:
- If you’re left over with half an onion, or pepper, or celery, chop it and freeze it. If you’re going to sauté or otherwise cook it later, frozen will work just as well as fresh.
- Cheese rinds, dried-up pieces of cheese, and cheese you won’t get to eat before it goes bad - freeze that as well. These “cheese bones” are great for flavoring soups and sauces, and once they’ve cooked up, they’ll taste nice on their own too.
- When you’re done with a jar of pickles, save the pickle juice. It’s basically salted & seasoned vinegar - you can marinade meats in it, or make vinaigrette.