Wednesday, July 16, 2008


Ah, Summer is really here- the corn is in!

Please forgive me if I get a bit pedantic for moment, because summer corn is one of my favorite topics. Here are some guidelines to follow for the best summer corn- the kind whose sweetness and freshness just pops like a firecracker in your mouth.

First, a few observations- the main thing you have to be aware of is that the sweetness in corn is the sugar, and that this converts itself to starch after the ear is picked, and that this process goes more quickly dependng on how hot the ear gets and how old it is. Grocery store corn is hopeless, as it was picked a few days ago, and was probably not stored properly. Save your money.

For the best taste, buy your corn in the morning from a farm stand that has just harvested it. The ears need to be cool to the touch, and moist. If the tassels are brown you don't need to peel it down and look inside- just look for bug holes in the ear itself. Take it home and put it in the refrigerator until you are ready to cook it. City people take heart- when we lived in the city, our local farmer's market consistently provided corn that had been picked that morning and was still cool when bought shortly after the market opened.

When cooking corn, get the biggest pot you have and fill it with water, and bring it to a boil. Then throw in the corn and bring it back to a boil as quickly as possible- put a cover on the pot if it has one. The point is to keep the corn in the water for as short a time as possible. Boil it for three minutes, not a second longer, take it out and plate it, with a towel for a cover until you eat it with butter, salt and pepper, hopefully within fifteen minutes.

There is no better summer food than fresh picked corn on the cob, if you store it and cook it correctly. Trust me- I bring a lifetime of experience to this question. Here is your diligent reporter harvesting corn straight from the garden some, um, well... ok, maybe 40 years ago.

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