Sweet Summer, Sweet Corn

'Tis the season for ears of corn coming out of our ears! One of the many benefits of living in rural America - particularly in the corn belt - is the abundance of sweet corn during the late summer. And this time of year, roadside stands and local farmers markets are brimming with corn on the cob and other fresh produce.

At the Center for Rural Affairs, we understand the importance of local food. That’s why we are working so hard to help small family farmers and ranchers and backyard gardeners alike, market their products, whether it be to that local Farmers’ Market, a nearby school for the Farm to School program, or establishing a market for value-added products.Elisha putting up corn

Moreover, we are working with schools to get students involved directly with their school lunch with our Garden to Cafeteria program. The Center for Rural Affairs is working with several schools to develop and support a network of school greenhouses active in fruit and vegetable production. Kids experience a sense of ownership when they are involved in growing the food. Plus, studies have shown that children are five times more likely to eat their veggies if they’ve grown the food themselves.

If there is one vegetable that kids will eat regardless of who grew it - sweet corn. That requires absolutely no encouragement to gobble up! Despite this, my kids did take part in growing their own sweet corn this summer and they are quite proud of their efforts.

Recently my family and I took to our little sweet corn patch to pick some corn to freeze.

We spent a good portion of the day picking, shucking, boiling, cooling, cutting and bagging the sweet kernels of golden goodness.

The kids were very eager to help. Although the eldest picked a good portion of field corn (she was so proud of the big ears she found) and the baby happened to find and fall into the only mud hole for miles around, we had fun and enjoyed each other’s company. Plus our freezer is stocked with enough delicious bags of corn to last us all year.

It’s a hot and sticky chore, but it will be so worth it when we can enjoy the taste of summer even in the dead of winter.Muddy baby

One of my favorite things to do with corn (after I’m burnt out from eating it straight off the cob) is mix it with fresh tomatoes, avocado and a zesty dressing.

2 cups cooked corn, fresh or frozen
1 avocado, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup finely diced red onion

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon grated lime zest
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Combine the corn, avocado, tomatoes and onion in a large glass bowl. Mix together the dressing ingredients in another bowl, pour over the salad, and gently toss to mix.

Find the fresh salad recipe here. (Recipe courtesy of Paula Deen)


Pictured: Top photo - Kolt picking corn; Middle photo - Elisha working to get corn off the cob to freeze; Bottom photo - Baby Smith found the only mud hole in the field. Photos by Ava Smith.