As with other ferments, this is slow food that becomes your fast food go-to because you can eat it raw. YES! The corn takes on a slightly sour flavour, is soft enough to eat straight from the barrel, and if you include jalapeño chillies they leave that slightly hot aftertaste. You’ll need a 4-5 litre (135-170 fl oz) jar or, even better, a large crock. You could even go and buy a large fermenting tub from a home brew shop for this because it’s worth it – especially for a special event, large gathering or barbecue.
Preparation time: <25 minutes
Fermentation time: 1-2 weeks
Equipment: 4-5 L (135-170 fl oz) jar (or large crock or tub), weight
- 8-10 corn cobs, peeled, silks removed
- 5 litres (170 fl oz) water
- 8 tablespoons salt
- 10 garlic cloves
- 3-5 jalapeño chillies, seeds and membranes removed, sliced (if you want more heat, leave the seeds and membranes intact and just halve)
- 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
- 2 sprigs of parsley, root only, no leaves
- 2 sprigs of coriander, root only, no leaves (don’t waste the leaves, use them for something else)
- Blanch the corn in some boiling water briefly – 30 seconds will do. We aren’t blanching them to cook them, just to break the starch down, damaging the cell walls a bit.
- Once blanched, cool the corn down as quickly as possible by putting it straight into the fridge if you have room. Putting it in an iced water bath tends to take away some sweetness and flavour, so avoid that if possible.
- You could cut the corn cobs into 5 cm (2 in) pieces, but I love keeping them in one piece. (You’ll need a vessel that can fit them whole.)
- While the corn is cooling, make your brine straight in your fermenting vessel using the water and salt. You could use some boiling water to dissolve the salt if you like. Add the remaining ingredients to the brine.
- Add your cooled whole corn cobs to the vessel. Make sure you have enough brine to cover the corn. Put a weight on, such as a plate, or something to keep the corn under the brine, and seal your jar or crock. Tightly wrapped plastic wrap is fine if you’ve only got a crock with no lid.
- Ferment the corn like this for about a week. Just like other ferments, the longer you leave it, the sourer it will get; if you’ve got a cool place to put it you could let it go for longer. Otherwise jar it up and put it in the fridge, where it’ll stay good and crisp for about 3 months.
- We love to take the whole tub of corn outside and pull from it directly to cook over coals. When grilling over coals, we're really only aiming for a quick burn because the sugars are all out on the surface and are easy to burn, giving an awesome smoky flavour. It’s more of a quick heating compared to a raw cob on the barbecue, because the starches are almost all gone. Slather with your own butter mixed with some lime zest and a bit of chopped coriander. So good!
This is an edited extract from Ferment For Good by Sharon Flynn, published by Hardie Grant Books, RRP $39.99. Now available to purchase in-store at Harris Farm Markets.
Photography: ©Tara Pearce