Fresh English cobs cooked to crisp juicy perfection by seasonal trader, Crouch Cobs
Getting a barbecued corn on the cob spot on is a fine art. To foil or not to foil? Butter before or after cooking? Salt or black pepper? Luckily for us, though, Crouch Cobs has mastered it: crisp, tinged with gold on the outside, juicy, crunchy yet perfectly cooked kernels within, delivering a satisfying burst of flavour upon first bite. While the barbecue season might be dwindling, happily, Crouch Cobs’ seasonal stall in the Floral Hall will be here until October.
“We brush it with rapeseed oil, then char it straight on the grill—no foil. It’s the quickest and nicest way to make the most of the vegetable,” says owner Duncan McLaren, confidently clearing up our cooking method confusion. Served simply slathered in butter with a sprinkle of Spice Mountain’s rock salt, or “the Mexican way” with a squeeze of fresh lime from Paul Wheeler, parmesan and hot chilli pepper, “the toppings are just a nice addition. It’s all about the corn, really. It’s just lovely.”
To that we can attest. One of many vegetables that are now ubiquitous all year round in UK supermarkets, it’s easy to forget the sweet delight of a fresh, English seasonal cob—until you dig in to a Crouch Cob, that is. Grown between the River Blackwater and River Crouch in Essex, this area’s specific micro-climate makes for a particularly tasty, and prolific, harvest.
First window of spring
“There aren’t many places that can grow it as efficiently,” Duncan continues. “We’re south-facing, so we get lots of sun, and any frost tends to end quickly which is important—if there’s a frost while the corn is germinating, it will just kill it. This is why we have to plant it within such a small time period. We have to catch the first window of spring without frost, typically from mid-April to May.”
The farm insists on responsible practices. “We water the corn twice a day during the summer months and spray once to kill the aphids. That’s it.” It is these farming methods, combined with the geography of the farm and its close proximity to London, which mean corn on the cob doesn’t come much fresher. “It’s hand-picked on Thursday—choosing only the best cobs, of course—and brought to Borough Market on Friday each week. It’s as fresh as can be.”