Around the Island

Off the fork: Sweet corn ice cream

CHARITY ROBEY PHOTO Sweet corn is here, and you know what to do
Sweet corn ice cream.

Sweet corn is here, and you know what to do.

The best sweet corn of the season is coming in now.  This is stuff you can eat raw, a practice I observed at Sep’s farm stand when one employee was so overcome by the creamy beauty of the ears she was selling, that she shucked an ear and ate it one-handed, while making change with the other hand.

It’s easy to get carried away and forget your corn manners. Don’t pry open the husk to examine each ear, ruining it for everybody else. Buying corn is often a group activity, like rifling through the bargain bin at TJ Maxx. You may examine the cut end to make sure it isn’t brown or dried out, and lightly squeeze the ear to make sure it feels firm.  More investigation than that marks you as someone who can’t make a decision.

And buy a lot. With three extra ears, you can make ice cream.

The first few times I tasted corn ice cream, I objected to the way the kernels wrapped themselves around my molars. At home, I adapted my go-to ice-cream base recipe to accommodate corn, eliminated the whole kernel problem with an immersion blender, and added some yogurt to tone down the extreme sweetness. I think vanilla extract in ice cream adds an icy liquid to the cream when frozen, so I make ice cream with vanilla bean paste for a better consistency.

Corn ice cream

Makes more than a quart of ice cream.

3/4 cup superfine sugar

1 cup whole milk

Three ears of sweet corn so fresh that
when you cut the kernels off the cob,
pale white corn juice puddles on the cutting board. (Scrape it into the pot along with the kernels and the cobs.)

½ cup of vanilla whole fat Nordic or Greek yogurt

1 and 1/2 cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste

1. Mix the milk and superfine sugar in a 2-quart saucepan.

2. Cut the kernels off the three cobs by holding them upright and cutting from top to bottom along the side of the cob. You can rest the bottom of the cob in a shallow bowl to catch the juices, but if you are doing this right, kernels will fly. Get over it.

3. Break the naked cobs into two pieces (snap it by hand, it’s almost impossible to cut) and scrape the kernels, juices, and as many of the cobs as will fit,  into the saucepan with the sugar/milk mixture.

4. Heat the mixture until you see a little steam, but don’t allow it to boil. Turn off the heat.

5. Let the corn/sugar/milk mixture steep for one hour.

6. Discard the corn cobs and blend the mixture with an immersion blender until you can’t see anything that could be identified as a corn kernel.

7. Strain the blended mixture into a 2-quart bowl, pressing the solids firmly to extract all the liquid. Discard the solids.

8. Add the yogurt, vanilla and heavy cream to the corn mixture, whisking to remove any yogurt lumps.

9. Cover and refrigerate for at least two hours before freezing.

10. Using your favorite ice cream freezer, churn the mixture until the paddle won’t move. The harder you can get it before you give up and scrape it into a a one-quart container with a tight-fitting lid, the better.

11. Put in the freezer and let it firm up for an hour before serving.