And everything else you should know about this summer staple.
From husking to storing to grilling, this a-maize-ingly versatile veggie is as easy to prepare as it is tasty and nutritious. For everything you need to know, we spoke to William James Lamont Jr., professor of vegetable crops at Pennsylvania State University, and Christina Arokiasamy, author of The Malaysian Kitchen: 150 Recipes for Simple Home Cooking, who also teaches classes on cooking and how to select the best corn.
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF CORN?
Keep in mind that the type of corn doesn't matter as much as how it looks before you buy it. Arokiasamy eats white and yellow corn with main dishes, and uses blue corn in salsa.
WHEN IS IT RIPEST?
There's a reason why we're eating corn all summer long. This warm-weather staple is at its peak from July 1 to the end of September.
HOW TO PICK THE BEST CORN
At farm stands, the corn is picked in the early morning for sale that day, so you know it’s fresh, says Lamont. The newer varieties stay sweeter longer before the sugars convert to starch and the corn gets tough and doughy to eat. It gets a little more complicated at a supermarket, since you don’t know how long it’s been in transit.
How to do that? Arokiasamy says the key to finding the sweetest corn is to pull back the leaves one inch at the tip (don’t pull it back too much or you’ll ruin it for the next customer). It should be filled with plump-looking kernels and should also be wrapped very tightly.
But don’t just look at it. Feel the tassels wrapping the cob. It’s important that they’re moist “like a good moisturizer for your hair,” she says. If they’re yellow and dried out, the corn is past its prime.
When it comes to organic versus non-GMO varieties, it’s ultimately your choice, says Lamont. Newer sweet corn varieties have built-in resistance to worm complex, which means growers do not need to use spray that repels worms.
HOW TO PREPARE CORN
You gotta husk it! Grab the flag leaves or tip of the ear and strip the husk down. Pick the remaining silks off. Easy peasy.
HOW TO STORE CORN
Store it in the refrigerator where it will last between two to three days. For best results, eat sweet corn as soon as possible. Keep in mind that corn easily absorbs any smell lingering in the refrigerator. Because of that it needs to be tightly packed in a container or Saran Wrap.
HOW TO COOK WITH CORN
Corn has a naturally sweet flavor, so dishes don’t need to be too elaborate. Soak or wet the ears to retain moisture. Then steam it to intensify the sweetness of the kernels, and preserve its nutrients (more on that below!).
For toppings, Arokiasamy suggests these crowd-pleasing options:
Add butter, chilli powder, lime juice, turmeric, salt and pepper.
Melt miso and butter together and then add pepper. (Miso is salty enough on its own so you don’t need to add more salt). Drizzle on corn.
Use whichever herbs you have in your garden, and then mix them in the blender with an avocado for a butter-like consistency. Melt it over the corn.
Use chopped basil, parsley, cilantro and sprinkle pepper and salt. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Both options are great for those with a dairy intolerance.
For a simple BBQ-friendly salad, pluck off all the kernels and mix it with black beans that have been soaking overnight. Cut up tomatoes, kumquats, and chickpeas and season it with cumin, coriander, and turmeric. Dress it in a yogurt and lime juice blend.
Also, don't forget the power of the grill! Soak the corn with a few husks still intact for four to five hours. With wet husks, place it on the grill so it doesn’t blacken with charcoal. When the husks dry out and blacken, the kernels inside boasts that signature sweet-smoky flavor. For best results, the kernel should never touch the grill.
And it can work for dessert, too. For corn ice cream, boil the corn in the husk to keep it from bruising and to keep it intact. After blending the kernels, add coconut milk, coconut cream or dairy cream, and honey. Add a pinch of salt to heighten its sweetness. Then place it in a dish and freeze it for five hours and serve.
WHAT IS CORN'S NUTRITIONAL VALUE?
One medium ear of sweet yellow corn contains 77 calories. It has just one gram of fat, 17 grams of carbohydrates, 2.4 grams of fiber, and three grams of protein. Corn is also naturally high in magnesium, thiamin, and folate content.