Dehydration is an excellent way to preserve food and is a method which has been used for thousands of years.While some foods , such as herbs, may lose some color and flavor during the dehydration process, other foods, such as corn, are reported to actually gain flavor. I was reading Heirloom Gardener and came across an article which included instructions on how to dry corn and how to rehydrate and cook the corn when ready to use. I am a very visual person so when I saw photos of the dried corn in the above magazine, I was almost ready to dry corn just for the natural decorative effect! See how wonderful the corn looks in the jars above....warm and earthy.
It's not too late to buy 30 or so ears of corn to blanch and dry. The information I have read says that corn, when thoroughly dried, will last for years in airtight jars. As I write this I am drying ten more trays of corn in my dehydrator. It's a very simple process. You husk the corn and drop it into boiling water and let simmer or steam for 3 minutes. Remove the corn, let cool and then shave the corn off the cob with a sharp knife. If you don't have a dehydrator, you can dry the corn in a 250 oven ( stirring the corn occasionally) until the corn turns a brownish golden color....and is very hard. If you like to experiment you can place the corn on trays and put them outside on a sunny day. You would want to cover the corn with cheesecloth to prevent bugs from congregating on the corn. It may take more than one day when drying outside and it would be wise to bring it in a night to prevent the night dew from slowing down the dehydration process. Some people have dried food in the back window of their car. I use the Nesco Gardenmaster dehydrator and I like it very much. It has a fan which circulates the air to dry all the stacks of trays evenly. There are other dehydrators available at this link
or there are different types available at Amazon.
You can use dried corn in many different ways. You can add the kernels directly to soups, stews and chilis or you can make delcious stewed dried corn. I have not yet reconstituted any of my corn. I am waiting for the cozy days in fall and winter to try it out. It seems pretty failsafe however and is supposed to be delicious.
To make stewed dried corn (basic recipe from Heirloom Gardener) you gather together 2 cups of dried corn, 3 and one half cups of water, 1 TBS of sugar (or other natural sweetener), 2 Tablespoons of butter, salt and pepper to taste and a cup of whole milk or half a cup of milk and half a cup of cream.
Soak the kernels in water that has come to a boil. Shut off heat and soak for an hour. Then simmer until corn is tender and the corn has absorbed much of the liquid. Add salt , sugar and bring to a boil. Add milk and cream and heat gently for 5 more minutes.
You can dehydrate canned or frozen corn also to save storage space but personally I think it makes much more sense to buy fresh corn in season and then dry and store it. The flavor will be much better and the corn will not have already gone through an extra step of processing (canning or freezing). The more processing that is done to a food, the less nutritional value will remain with the food. Since we lost power for a week during Hurricane Irene, the idea of learning the art of drying food seems to be more important than ever.Remember....if dried correctly, this corn will last for years in a tightly sealed jar.