The Secret Ingredient


Last weekend I had the pleasure of spending the morning with my mom putting up fresh cream corn. It’s a tradition handed down from her mother-in-law and one she handed down to her children as well. “Putting up” is a southern term, I suppose, for preparing fresh vegetables to be frozen so they can be enjoyed throughout the year.

I remember as a child, Mom raised our corn in a lot behind our house. It was the best place to run around and play hide and seek as a child. The garden was filled with lots of other vegetables that we had to pick the rest of the summer. I can’t say I was fond of it at the time but like most things, not appreciated at the time, picking those vegetables with Mom, is a fond memory I hold dear in my heart.

Later on, Mom happened upon something called “Esau’s corn”. It was apparently the sweetest, finest corn around. From then on, every year I found myself in front of big bags of Esau’s corn that I got the pleasure of shucking so mom could do whatever she did in the kitchen with it. That’s what I felt about the whole process. At the time, I wasn’t too interested in what she was doing in the kitchen. Later on, much later I might add, I came to appreciate the work she was doing. I was really pretty excited when she shared the process with me, so I could do it myself.

Esau’s corn is raised near Dumas, Arkansas, where my Mom was raised. It really is some of the sweetest corn I’ve eaten. Here’s a link if you want to know more about the history of Esau’s corn.


That divine, sweet corn has now made its way to The Bramble Market in Ferndale which happens to be about 10 minutes away from where we now live.

If you’re anywhere near, you should stop by and  do some shopping. It’s a seriously cool place! You can check them out on Facebook and Instagram too.


Anyway, that’s how I found myself in the kitchen with Mom last weekend. The truth is, I really wanted to sleep in that Saturday morning. But I wouldn’t trade that experience now for anything. What a joy it was to stand beside her once again taking part in that family tradition that produces some of the most mouth-watering, out of this world, cream corn. It’s a real treat to be savored at family gatherings throughout the year.

Sure, you can buy cream corn in a can at any grocery store any time of the year. There’s just something special about Mom’s sweet corn. When I take that first bite, four months later at thanksgiving, all those memories will come back; the ones from my childhood and the ones of the hard work and time spent with my Mom preparing it last week.

That’s the secret ingredient. The hard work, the love and the memories of a family tradition is why this cream corn is so sweet.

I do have to warn you though. There’s quite a bit of real butter and sugar added too that contributes to the sweetness. You see, southern food is really not about the health benefits. It’s more about the tradition, the community, the experience and most importantly………the memories of the ones before us that handed down the process.

I’m sharing this recipe so that my daughter and other family members will always have a piece of the family tradition to be handed down for years to come.

To see the process of preparing the corn, keep reading below.

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