There are many signs that summer is here including hot weather, full swimming pools, and sunlight until after 9 pm! Another sign is that sweet corn is starting to show up at the grocery stores, Farmers’ Markets, and street corners. We planted sweet corn on the farm I grew up on so seeing the sweet corn reminds me of my childhood. I’d spend a day or two in the kitchen with my mom, sister, and grandmas freezing sweet corn so we could enjoy eating it throughout the winter.
Currently, the price of a dozen ears of sweet corn at three different grocery stores in Central Iowa is $6/dozen. Local sweet corn is expected to be in the stores around July 15, later than normal because of the cold, wet spring in the Midwest. The local sweet corn will be a bit cheaper.
When selecting sweet corn, look for the following signs of quality:
- Kernels that are plump. Do not choose ears with kernels that have begun to shrivel or ‘dent’.
- Kernels that are ‘milky’ inside so that when pressed with the fingernail the juice pops out.
- Depending on the variety, yellow corn should have a bright yellow color. White corn should be really white.
- Husks which fit snugly around the ear, look fresh, and have good green color. Do not select ears with husks that are dried, yellowed, or straw-colored which are indications of age or damage.
- Shiny dark brown silk is a sign of well-filled kernels. Silk ends should be free from decay or worm injury.
To get the best flavor from sweet corn, it should be eaten as soon as possible after harvesting because the sugars start converting to starches as soon as the corn is picked. If you need to store the sweet corn, leave the corn in the husk and refrigerate as soon as possible. If the corn has been husked, place it in a plastic bag and store in the refrigerator. Corn that has been blanched and cut off the cob can be frozen for 6 months to a year.
Here are some tips for cooking with fresh sweet corn:
- Don’t add salt to the water when cooking sweet corn because it will toughen the corn.
- Good, fresh sweet corn does not need to be cooked for long. Try cooking it for just 3 minutes, and see how delicious it can be.
- Two to three medium ears of corn are equivalent to approximately 1 pound, depending on ear size. Two medium ears equal approximately 1 to 1 ½ cups of kernels.
For more tips and directions for microwaving, grilling, or boiling sweet corn, check out the Sunshine Sweet website.