Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Indiana’s Family of Farmers. Many thanks to the Beyer family for hosting us on your farm and for treating us to your bounty!
“Mom, when can we go walk the pigs again?”
Eli says things that surprise me nearly every day, but that was something I never thought I’d hear. A few weeks earlier, we’d driven 50 miles south of our suburban home to visit Matt and Leah Beyer‘s family farm near Columbus, Indiana. For those of you who followed The Risky Kids, you may remember the Beyer family – I interviewed them last year to see how farm life lends itself to free-range parenting. (Spoiler alert: very well!)
Until a few years ago, the Beyers were dairy famers. Funny thing about having a dairy farm, though: the cows always need milked. Matt, whose parents were dairy farmers, remembers taking exactly two vacations his entire childhood. And so Matt and Leah made the decision to move. They may have left their milking days behind, but that doesn’t mean they walked away from farming.
Nestled between fields of field corn and soybeans sits their own one-acre crop of Indiana sweet corn, also known as God’s gift to Midwesterners for putting up with winter. While they’re not supplying the masses, they’ve turned this patch of land into a valuable business lesson for their kids. On weekends you can find the Beyer kids selling sweet corn at their local market.
Despite having more front teeth missing than present, Eli can tear up some sweet corn. We both learned so much about corn while visiting they Beyers. For instance, did you know that there is a strand of silk for every single kernel of corn? Stalks of sweet corn are shorter than stalks of field corn, and sweet corn kernels are rounder, more plump, and more yellow than field corn. Last corn fun fact: there’s always an even number of rows on each cob.
It’s been a very tough year for Hoosier corn farmers, though. Frequent and heavy rain early in the growing season flooded many fields, stunting corn growth and washing away the vital fertilizer corn needs to grow properly. While many of the ears we picked from the Beyer farm were smaller than the ears we’re accustomed to, I’m happy to report they’re packed with just as much flavor as bigger ears!
The Beyers also have some livestock on their farm, including chickens, a calf, and two pigs. Both Beyer kids, Brady and Maddie, help take care of the livestock and show them in 4H. That’s where Eli’s pig-parading question fits in. Pigs, as you can imagine, aren’t much for exercise. In order to show them at the fair, they need to get accustomed to walking farther than just to the trough and back! And so a couple of times a day, the pigs get a walk. Eli and I both got a kick out of it, especially when one of the pigs got curious about my camera.
After a fun evening of visiting, playing, and picking, the Beyers sent us home with some of their bounty: corn, of course, but also eggs from their chickens and a bag full of tomatoes. I nearly wept with joy! As much as I love our home with its beautiful trees, I miss having my own backyard garden so much – especially when it comes to having fresh tomatoes.
Upon further inspection, Gus approves of the farm-to-table concept.
Back home, I couldn’t wait to get some of that corn into my belly. And then I remembered the one and only downside to fresh corn: all that silk. I can never shuck it well enough to get all those strands of silk into the trash and away from my teeth! And then I stumbled on this fantastic method for cooking corn that makes the silks magically melt into the husks, away from the kernels. Even better, it’s super easy and a no-brainer solution when you need to cook corn for a crowd.
Oven Roasted Corn on the Cob
Preheat the oven to 350°F. You don’t need to husk the corn, but do take a moment to peel away any dry or damaged outer leaves. Trim the silk from the ends of the corn. Place ears of corn on a baking sheet and place in preheated oven. Bake for 25-30 minutes.
Let the corn cool for 5 minutes. Using hot pads or some other protection for your hands, (it will still be hot!) remove the husks. You’ll be amazed – the silk just peels right off with the husk! Not only is it easier in the cleaning/preparing department, this corn tastes fantastic – sweet, crisp and delicious. I usually cook an extra ear or two, cutting the kernels off the cob after it cools and tossing the corn in salsa or a salad in the next day or two.
Every summer when I eat those fresh-from-the-farm ears of Hoosier sweet corn, I wonder why we even bother eating corn the rest of the year. Thanks to Leah’s vast experience and her tried-and-true method for freezing sweet corn, we’ll be having a taste of pure summer through the winter. While my supply of Beyer sweet corn has long since been devoured, I’ve been making weekly trips to our farmer’s market for bags of sweet corn and freezing bag after bag using Leah’s recipe.
Whether you choose to bake it, grill it, boil it, or freeze it, my main message is this: find yourself a great local source of sweet corn and eat as much of it as you can!