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Monday, September 12, 2011

Dehydrating Corn - Making Soup and Cornmeal with Sweet Corn

If you go to Farmer's Markets during the summer, especially here in Michigan, you will see sweet corn everywhere.  I love to roast it and freeze it for dinners, but sweet corn can be saved in other ways as well.  Dehydrated corn is easy to make, can be used in soups and stews, and can also be ground for cornmeal.  The sweet corn cornmeal will be sweeter than the Dent or Flint corn that is usually used, but if you are aware of this fact, it can be used to make a delicious sweet cornbread!

Before dehydrating the corn, you need to decide what you want to do with it.  If you are dehydrating it for soups and other dishes, you will want to boil it first to set the milk inside the kernel.  If you are going to grind it for cornmeal, you can just dehydrate it without boiling it.

When I am going to save corn for soups and such, I keep it on the cob and boil it in a pot of salted water for about 4 - 5 minutes.  I then pull the corn out and cool it under cold running water.

Once the cobs are cool, or if you have decided to not boil the corn because you are using it as cornmeal, it is time to get the corn off the cob.  I have finally broken down and bought a corn cutter.  It really does make stripping the kernels off the cob so much easier!

Corn Cob Cutter makes this so much easier!

I find it is easier to break up the corn kernels before dehydrating, but it's not so hard to do it after they are dry either.  I do have the herb screens that fit my dehydrator, and I usually use them with corn, but if the trays are being used to dry other produce, I use a layer of cheese-cloth cut to fit the tray.

Cheese Cloth keeps the Kernels from falling through the tray!

Both the boiled corn and the raw corn take quite a bit of time to dry.  I start checking after 16 -18 hours, but have kept them on for 24 hours.  These kernels must be brittle, especially if they are to be ground into cornmeal.

Dehydrated Corn for Cornmeal

Once the corn is dry, you will notice that they do differ in color.  The raw corn will dry a brighter yellow, while the boiled corn will dry a more dark yellow to amber color.

Dehydrated Boiled Corn for Soups

Once the corn is dry, you will want to keep it in a cool, dry place, in an airtight container.  If you are doing large quantities, you can put them in the vacuum bags for longer storage.  When you are ready to use the corn, just add it to hot soups or stocks and allow it about three minutes to re-hydrate, or you can re-hydrate the corn in boiling water and use it in your favorite corn chowder.  When you are doing cornmeal, it is best to grind it as you need it.  This will help preserve it longer.


Dehydrated corn is very easy to grind.  I usually grind it in my spice/coffee grinder on the fine or medium setting.  There are grain grinders that can be purchased from as little as $20 to as much as $400 if you are going to be doing all of your own grinding.

Here is my favorite recipe for cornbread that we used at Firestone Farm while I worked there.  I do not have the actual documentation of which cookbook this is from, but it is a delicious recipe!  This is for the less sweet Dent or Flint corn, so if you are using sweet corn, you may want to lessen the sugar, but this is your preference.  My kids like it sweeter, so I do not change the recipe.  Enjoy!

1 pint cornmeal
1 pint flour
1 tbls baking-powder

Sift meal, flour and baking-powder together.  Add 1/2 cup sugar, one more tablespoon of baking-powder, one tablespoon of melted butter, two eggs, and one pint of sweet milk. Mix well and bake until done.
(I usually bake at 350°F, in a cast iron fry pan, until I can put a knife in the center and it comes out clean.  You can also bake it in a buttered glass dish.)

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