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Dried corn is corn that has had the moisture removed under low, slow heating. The results are small, golden yellow, very hard corn kernels. This kind of corn has a shelf life of up to a year, as long as it is stored in a cool, dry place. It doesn’t need refrigeration to stay fresh and must be rehydrated for just a few minutes before it is consumed. Cooks looking for preservation methods without chemical preservatives can even make dried corn at home.
Almost any recipe calling for corn can use dried corn. A 15 minute soak in room-temperature water should be adequate to bring most dried kernels back to their former plumpness. Drying simply removes the water from the corn, therefore soaking restores it. After this is complete, cooks may drain the corn, remove any kernels that didn’t rehydrate, and proceed with the recipe as normal.
Home cooks that want to make dried corn are in luck, it is usually a simple process with few steps. The first is to husk fresh corn by removing the leaves and strands of silk surrounding each ear. Next, blanch the corn by submerging it in boiling water for about three minutes, and then immerse it in a bowl full of icy water. Boiling seals the flavor and nutrients in the corn, while the ice bath stops the corn from further cooking.
Slicing the kernels from the ear generally makes them easier to measure out and rehydrate later. The cook must hold each ear vertically, usually by the thicker end, and balance it on the narrow tip. A sharp knife typically slides easily down the entire ear, from the broad end to the narrow one, cutting the kernels off in neat rows. Cooks must be careful not to cut into the cob itself because it is tough and chewy. Cutting horizontally, at the base of the kernels usually guides the knife right along the outside of the cob.
Spreading the kernels in a single layer on parchment-lined cookie sheets is the next step. An oven preheated to about 150°F (about 65°C) should dry the corn completely in 10 to 12 hours. Those that can’t stay at home for this length of time may dry the corn in stages by placing it in the oven for two to four hours at a time over the space of several days. When finished, the dried corn may be poured into airtight containers or plastic bags. Vacuum-sealed bags sometimes keep dried corn fresh for up to three years.
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