Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Veg In Focus: Sweetcorn

Watching Gardener's World last week made me all kinds of sad. They were picking corn directly from their plants, soaking it and grilling it. Eating it fresh. It's a dream that is going to have to wait for another time I'm afraid. Corn is wind pollinated, so would need more space then I can dedicate to it. Although banks of corn on the balcony would look rather cool, I'm going to have to wait for land.

I've written before about the sorry state of buying corn in the UK. It's problem is, quite simply, this. Look at that. Corn protectively wrapped in plastic, only missing it's natural packaging and protection. The stuff that keeps it fresh, and allows for my favourite cooking method. But apparently the consumer prefers it like this.

The most simple and satisfying preparation is to peal back the leaves, rip off the silks and soak in water (according to Veganomicon half an hour will do, but I start the soaking before I go out and cook when I get home) then peal back the leaves again and rub oil on to the corn in a motion that look surprisingly rude, sprinkle with salt and pepper and throw it on the grill pan for 20 minutes. I like to turn it 45 degrees after five minutes.

After that you eat it. Hold it in your hands and chew the kernels off. Not delicate but the best way to get the job done. Awfully fun too. It's pictured here along side the Spinach and Potato squares from Vegan Brunch on my Chelsea pattern pyrex.

Although, if you are feeling more exotic you can't go wrong with this recipe. It's Sweetcorn Dhansak from Riverford. And it's lovely. Very Lovely. Definitely deserves a taste if you have some sweetcorn and lentils lying around.

So how do we solve the problem of plastic wrapped corn in the UK? Same old easier said than done answer: grow it yourself or find a good supplier. I'm fortunate to be able to have two. There is, of course, Riverford and then there is Shute Fruit who you can either go and see in person or on the Newton Abbot Market.

This year I've preferred Shute Fruit's offerings as they have been smaller and less full of aphids (not vegan! Shows it's organic though) but while the season lasts I'll take sweetcorn from wherever I can. As long as it isn't in plastic.

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