It’s delicious on burgers, mash, sandwiches and sausages – and now that sweetcorn is in plentiful supply, it’s time to spend an afternoon making your stash of sweetcorn relish!
Cooking with Sweetcorn
Sweetcorn can be difficult to grow in the British climate. It needs to be block‐planted for fertilisation, which occurs between plants (on the wind). Ideally sweetcorn is grown in large blocks, which can be difficult to fit in to an ordinary‐sized vegetable patch. You also need plenty of ripening sunshine towards the end of the season to get plump cobs. Slim, underdeveloped cobs of corn are common; but don’t give up. If your own sweetcorn plants haven’t provided you with a basket full of cobs, why not look in a local farmer’s market or farm shop? Sweetcorn is cheap and plentiful when it’s harvested in October.
One of the finest ways to eat sweetcorn is all on its own – with plenty of butter, salt and pepper. If you have good, fresh corn, leave it in its husks and soak in cold water for an hour before grilling the cobs under a grill, on a griddle, or even on a barbecue. Let the corn caramelise before brushing with butter and seasoning. Flavoured butters are good here too, and can be prepared ahead by blending lime, chilli, or parsley with good butter, rolling into a cylinder, and freezing briefly. Cut disks straight onto your corn cobs. Those cobs that you don’t grill and eat should be used quickly – and although you could blanch and freeze the kernels, it’s not the most imaginative way to preserve autumn’s sunniest crop. Instead, try our recipe for a delicious sweetcorn relish.
Spicy Sweetcorn Relish
Don’t be afraid of preserving: when you’ve done it once, you’ll have the confidence to try preserving lots of your garden bounty! The most important task is sterilising your jars and equipment. You can buy glass jars with rubber seals (at cookware stores such as Lakeland) or even use washed jam jars with metal lids. Neither type requires a wax seal or plastic cover. The metal (or rubber) creates an airtight seal that should keep your preserved goodies free from bacteria.
- 4 cobs of sweetcorn, with husks and strings removed
- 1 large onion, finely diced
- 2 red peppers, finely diced
- 1 red chilli, finely diced (excluding seeds if preferred)
- 300g honey
- 400ml cider vinegar
- Salt and pepper
- 1tsp cornflour
Remove the kernels from the sweetcorn cobs and drop into boiling water; cook for about 3 minutes, or until tender, then drain thoroughly.
Prepare your jars. First wash them using washing‐up liquid and warm water, rinse, and then pop into a warm oven to dry out and become sterile. It’s best to fill the jars while they are still slightly warm, because putting a hot mixture into cold glass can cause the glass to crack.
Pour the vinegar, honey, onions, peppers, and chilli into a large pan and bring to simmering point. Boil for 15 minutes, then add the sweetcorn. Dissolve the cornflour in another 1tsp of vinegar and stir this into the pan, simmer for another 5 minutes, then let the mixture cool slightly.
Pour the relish into the warm jars, seal, and turn upside‐down. Leave to cool before labelling – the relish will keep for 3 months.