I live across a dirt road from corn fields. Hidden among the acres of feed corn (corn grownto sell at market for animal feed or ethanol gas) the farmer hides his sweet corn. You can tell where it is when you drive down the hill because the rows are in a different pattern. Every July he lets me go in and pick all I want for a reduced price. Our family looks forward to that corn all summer long. “Is Donnie’s corn ready?” is a question asked every night at supper—it is that good. But to ferment it? The thought never occurred to me. Now, I’m going to have to give it a try.
With a Fermentools kit at home, when I have extra of anything I start wondering, will it taste good fermented? It’s tempting to try to ferment just about anything and in reality, almost everything can be fermented.
There’s an old commercial from my childhood for an industrial blender, and they’d blend anything in it. Each time saying, “Will it blend?” and always the answer was yes. Every time I stuff something novel in a jar, I remember that commercial, but instead the line in my kitchen is, “Will it ferment?” The answer for corn on the cob? A resounding yes!
Apparently, pickled corn on the cob is a thing in the south, and you can find it in big jars on gas station shelves. These days, those jars are vinegar pickles, but traditionally, as with most pickles of any sort, it was fermented.
I’m a fan of raw corn eaten right out in the field. You can ferment your corn raw if you choose, but a quick 5-minute blanching helps the corn keep its sweetness better through the fermentation process.
How to Make Fermented Corn on the Cob
Corn can be broken in half or cut into 2-inch sections to make it fit in the jar better. Regardless, you’re going to need a pretty big jar to accommodate corn still on the cobs. Also, the corn cobs float, so make sure they’re small enough to fit in the jar underneath a glass fermenting weight. I opted to try out a small test batch with a wide mouth pint jar and a single half corn cob.
It’s always good when trying out a new ferment to try a small test batch before committing a lot of time and ingredients to something you may not like. In this case, there’s no loss because I used what I had extra after a meal, so that’s what went into the jar.
You’ll want to make a brine with 3 tablespoons of salt for every quart of water, heating it on the stove to just dissolve the salt and then allowing the water to cool. (Or use Fermentools’ Himalayan Powder Salt, designed to dissolve in cool water.) Pack your corn in jars, cover with brine, apply enough weight to submerge the corn, and add fermentation lid for Mason jars. Ideally, a half gallon wide mouth mason jar will accommodate a meaningful amount of fermented corn on the cob
The fermentation time depends on your tastes. I opted for a short ferment for a milder flavor, and only left the corn for 14 days. Often it’s made with a full 4-6 week ferment for a fuller flavor. With that type of fermentation time, mid and late summer corn will be ready as a lunchbox treat for back to school.
Fermented Corn on the Cob Recipes
I wanted to try the corn plain, as a test of flavor, but there are a number of recipes that add in various seasonings. This recipe from Field and Stream adds in peppercorns, jalapeños and garlic. Another recipe from Killer Pickles adds in garlic, onion, cloves, mustard seed, coriander and chipotle. Most recipes seem to add some sort of spicy heat to complement the corn’s sweetness. If you’re making this for your kids or a large BBQ, adjust according to your own spice tolerance.
In the Fermentools store, you will find fermentation lids for Mason jars, glass weights, and that special Himalayan Powder salt that dissolves in cool water. Better yet, get a kit! Everything you need in one package.
Ashley is an off grid homesteader in central Vermont. She is passionate about fermentation, charcuterie and foraging. Read more about her adventures at PracticalSelfReliance.com.