Simple Summer Corn Salad (and some nerdery, too)

If you love corn, you’re gonna memorize this salad because you will want to make it… year round. Oh yes, yummy and healthy and dang it – incredibly easy. (And as always with our recipes, VERY adaptable/adjustable!)

Super simple, 7 ingredients (including dressing)… and if you garden, most of the other veggies/herbs can be grown in your own backyard (or patio) with the exception of corn.

Note: Yes. Yes, you CAN grow corn yourself, but let’s be honest… as much as I love the idea, not many of us have the space or water capacity to grow corn successfully. It is a myth that corn is easy OR enough for a small family out of a raised garden bed. It’s not impossible, but requires some knowledge that you can find after the recipe 🙂

But enough about how complicated corn is. When it is in the market (or store) TAKE ADVANTAGE. This salad is a winner and a frequent side with our summer meals!

Simple Summer Corn Salad

Ingredients:

  • 3 ears of corn, boiled, chilled and stripped from the cob
  • 1 cup of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup quartered, sliced cucumber
  • 1/4 cup Vidalia onion, chopped fine (this is also great with spring onion or shallot)
  • 1/4-1/3 cup crumbled feta
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped mint
  • 1-2 tbsp white balsamic vinegar (white wine vinegar also works ok but will give it more bite. Lemon also is good with this… I love how light the white balsamic is and it really lets all the ingredients come through)
  • pinch of smoked salt

Instructions:

  1. place all ingredients into a big bowl
  2. mix
  3. eat

Um.

YAH.

It’s that easy and will keep for a few days so I suggest finding a good local source of fresh corn so you can have this OF-TEN. In fact, I just made a different version of this salad to go along side a braised fish dish: corn, pickled golden beets, pickled Vidalia onion, garlic chives, brine and garlic chili oil dressing… WOW, so yummy and light… with just the right amount of heat.

Now, WHY is corn such a challenge? It really comes down to knowledge of how it grows, produces cobs and kernels, care requirements and yields. Simple, right? YEAH, not so much (as we have often found out, cuz I try… like every few years I still try….)

Like: HOW do you get corn cobs? Exhibit A (taken from below linked WIKI):

SIMPLE, RIGHT? But then there’s math (yeah, sorry… math…. there’s actually a lot of math in growing food…)

Quick corn math:

  • 1 plant produces anywhere between 1-3 ears
  • Corn relies on WIND to pollinate… aka, you need enough plants to guarantee that the wind will carry the male pollen from the tassles to the female silks lower on the plant… which is why most people who grow corn dedicate a MINIMUM size of 10′ x ’10’ to grow enough to potentially give you enough for a small family of 4. That’s 100 sq feet… and a 100ft row is about 200+ plants for optimal yield. Home gardeners should sow in BLOCKS to aid in natural pollination across a square of plants… farmers sow in rows, but again, it generally is a BLOCK of rows… due to how it is pollinated. Hand pollinating corn is possible, but… when talking about the quantity of plants… not always easy.
  • A typical corn plant needs 1.5 inches of water a week (A WEEK) in order to produce optimally. Not sure about your zone, but we are in our 4th (or 5th? I’m losing count) of drought conditions around here.. and even though we are on well water with plenty of supply… we try to conserve to protect our water table… if you pay for water? Well corn becomes an expensive crop.
  • 100sqft of corn should yield about 200-400 ears IF they all produce and are fed appropriately and are protected from pests
  • It also means watering 100sqft 1.5 inches of water a week.

SO… you need a LOT of corn plants to grow corn for a season for a family.

I also stress the watering information as it is important to realize that to grow corn successfully (to feed your family) you use a LOT of resources. Even in the ‘country’ here in NH… it is not easy and most people leave it to the larger farms who commit to the crop wholeheartedly.

Look… here is last year’s rainfall/climate data for my state.

Under 4 inches of rain throughout growing season (that is not offset by snowfall.)

UGH. Drought conditions stink, people.

And you need SPACE. Like, LAND space, to grow corn for your family. (HERE is some interesting WIKI info on acreage and US by state corn production… if you like to nerd out as I do…) The AVERAGE farm acreage dedicated solely to corn in the state of Iowa (who produces the most corn in the US and 2x that of Mexico total) is 333 acres. WOW.

Yeah, we don’t have that.

MOST people don’t have that.

So we rely on farmstand corn, or store bought (luckily our local grocery store supports tons of local farms for their produce…) And cheap corn doesn’t always mean BAD corn (or big business corn…) but sometimes a massive crop maturing at once. Generally, people who grow like to share. Big business likes to make $$ but farmers grow to sustain themselves and others. Enough on my soapbox- if you can, support local. LOL

But we pick our battles right? Raise you own meat birds….maybe buy store bought veggies when you can’t grow em yourself? Convenience isn’t always a bad thing, it just means that we try to counter our store bought items with things we can produce on our property. That, and supporting local farms through farmstands, farmer’s markets and grocers who get their produce locally… while not fully owning your food source, supports those farms that rely on producing food as their profession.

Here is the link to the WIKI about corn (maize), another incredible crop that found its origins and domestication in Mexico and through 15th century exploration found it’s way across the oceans to the rest of the developing world…

Another thing I also find interesting (especially when people get upset about GMO and big business practices in farming) is that corn’s primary outputs – approximately 60% of production is used for this – is for LIVESTOCK FEED AND ETHANOL (with another 10% or so going towards DISTILLERS GRAINS. Yep, booze.)

So, yeah. Maybe the cheap corn at the store isn’t the issue… or how you protest big business farming.

Meat.

Fuel.

Booze.

That’s nearly 70% of output of corn production…

11% is exported. That’s it. And another 11% goes towards sweeteners for other foods…

If you’re doing the math (again, sorry) that leaves direct to consumer in that ‘residual use’ category… 7-8% of production usage.

(above image from linked WIKI on corn production in the U.S. in 2019)

When you start to care about your food, you learn a LOT about how it is produced, why it is produced and where you can take back some of that ownership.

For me, refusing to buy the 5 for $1 corn at the store is not going to change my impact on the negative farming practices out there. But, other choices may.

Just my two bits on corn. Or two kernels…

Now, go make this salad.

🙂

One Comment Add yours

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s