I know, I know: it’s after Labor Day, kids are back in school, vacations are over. But it is still technically summer for another precious few weeks and summer produce is still at farmer’s markets: peaches, tomatoes and corn. Sweet, sweet corn.
As a kid, I loved corn. It was my favorite vegetable, something even my Mom’s cooking couldn’t screw up. In fact, my all-time favorite meal back then was Shake N Bake chicken legs, corn (typically boiled from frozen) and mashed potatoes. Oh yes, I was an adventurous eater. Then, for a long time in my adulthood, when I left home and started cooking for myself, I sneered at corn: so bland, so pale, so bourgeois. Snow peas and red bell peppers and baby-anything-exotic was the name of the game in the 90’s. Corn? Decidedly not exotic. Between high fructose corn syrup and Michael Pollan’s “Americans are corn with legs,” corn has gotten a pretty bad rap. But height-of-summer corn, fresh from the farm and grilled over an open flame, or cut off the cob and added to soup or salad? It’s a completely different animal. (Vegetable. Whatever.)
This salsa is no exception: even while cooking it smelled so tempting, so tantalizing, that it was a challenge to get it into jars. Made from corn on the cob grilled over an open wood fire, it is sweet & smoky, crisp and richly flavorful. I can only imagine how good it’s going to be to crack a jar in January. Do yourself a favor: pick up some of the last of the season’s corn at your local farmer’s market this weekend. You’ll thank yourself in January.
Adapted from Corn Salsa in Put ‘em Up! by Sherri Brooks Vinton
- 6 ears corn on the cob
- 2 ½ lbs tomatoes, diced
- ½ of a large yellow onion, diced
- ½ of a large green bell pepper, diced
- 2 small jalapeno peppers, minced
- ½ of a tiny habanero pepper, minced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 ¼ cups white vinegar
- ¼ cup lime juice (fresh or bottled; if fresh, toss in some zest as well)
- ¼ cup sugar (organic turbinado)
- 1 ½ tsp salt
- 1 ½ tsp cumin
- ¼ cup, packed, chopped fresh cilantro
- Grill the corn. Allow to cool, strip off husks and slice off kernels with a sharp knife. (Save the cobs for corn cob stock!)
- Prepare canner, jars and lids.
- Combine vinegar, lime juice, sugar, salt and cumin in a large, wide-bottomed stockpot or Dutch oven and bring to a boil over high heat. Add corn, tomatoes, onion, peppers and garlic and return to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for about 5 – 10 minutes, to reduce liquid slightly and allow flavors to blend.
- Add cilantro and return salsa to a boil. Remove from heat and ladle into hot jars to ½-inch headspace; bubble the jars, adjust headspace, wipe rims, affix lids and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.
Yields about 5 pints.
- If you don’t have access to a grill, or would simply prefer not to grill the corn, you can blanch the corn in boiling water instead of grilling. You can also roast or broil to achieve a caramelized flavor.
- If you must, substitute parsley for the cilantro (although I think cilantro is pivotal for a true salsa flavor).
- Plum tomatoes will not only give the best yield, but result in a less watery salsa. If you have quite watery tomatoes, you may want to let them drain for 30 minutes prior to adding to the salsa.
- I halved the original Put ‘em Up! recipe, so this recipe can be doubled, but use a large pot. At least 8-quart, better if it’s larger.
Canned, store in a cool, dark spot for up to 1 year.