Tip of the Week#24: When A Corny Joke Isn’t Funny

Summer time suggests outdoor eating like BBQ and picnics; it also suggests gatherings of friends, neighbors, and family.  A staple at these events is Corn On The Cob.  However, choosing corn can be quite tricky especially in the early summer when local crops are just starting and won’t be ready until late summer. 

How can you judge whether or not an ear of corn is ripe?  Most people will pull the husk of the corn to take a look at the kernels making sure that there are no pests or rot.   However, there are a number of  tests to tell if the corn is ripe. 

1.  First check out the husk.  The husk should be green, pliant, and moist, not brittle and dry. 

2.  Likewise, the silk should be straw colored and moist, not brittle or dry. 

3.  The kernels should be plump.  Pinch a kernel and if it emits a milky substance, then the corn is ripe. 

4.  Feel the corn ear through the husk.  Does it feel heavy?  Does it feel full all the way to the top? This reflects maturity and full pollenization of the ear.

Corn v. Sweetness.  The Taste Test.   What To Do If You Buy Corn That Isn’t Sweet, But Taste More Like Field Corn ?

There are 200 varieties of sweet corn and sweetness does not depend on color, but the variety. 

1.  You can add a pinch of sugar or a bit of milk to the boiling water to make the corn sweeter. 

2.  Cook the corn right after you buy it.  If you wait,  the ear or corn the sugar will begin to turn into starch and will lose 25% of its sugar within 25 hours. 

3.  If the price was high, bring the remaining ears back to the grocer for a refund.  If you prefer not to do that, cut the kernels from the cob and use it in recipes including salsas, and any uncooked remaining ears consider them for canning and for stews and casseroles next Winter.

What Variety of Corn Has The Best Eating Quality?

According to the University of Illniois Extension Service there are 3 genetic types of corn:  normal sugary (SU), sugar enhanced (SE), and supersweet (Sh2).  Because the SE gene contains the best qualities of SU and SH2, it has superior eating quality, tenderness, and texture.  This site is a great resource for home gardeners with its listing of varieties, planting instructions, common problems, care and recipes. 

1.  White Corn usually has a sweeter taste and is generally tender.  Look for varieties such as Silver Queen,  very popular both for its taste and texture.

2.  Yellow corn is chewier, sweet, and has a more robust taste.

3.  White and yellow kernels have a sweet combination taste as you can imagine. 

When Is The Best Time To Buy Fresh Corn on the Cob?

1.  When buying fresh corn, buy it when it is locally in season.  Corn begins to lose flavor immediately after being picked.  At a supermarket, make sure that the corn is advertised as locally grown.

2.  If buying off the back of a truck or farmer’s stand,  buy it in the morning.   As it sits in the sun, sugar starts to convert to starch affecting flavor.  MDM has bought the best corn advertised as "candy corn" from the back of a truck.

3.  Heat will definitely zap the flavor.  Therefore, buy this on the way home to fix rather than at the beginning of a shopping expedition.  

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