Spotlight Ingredient: Sweet Summer Corn

I‘ll admit, it feels like everything has already been said about corn; still, it’s a hugely popular vegetable in our family and worthy of a closer look.

Plus, I just couldn’t go through the entire season without sharing a couple of my most favorite recipes for corn, so don’t exit this site without taking a peek at them -  you’ll also be looking at my lunches for the past week and a half.

First, let’s shine a spotlight on corn; stick around, you might learn something. Like this for example, did you know that there is one string of corn silk for each kernel of corn in each ear?

From Cob to Kernel: What You Need to Know

Seasons

Sweet corn pops up on the radar as early as May, although we don’t see local sweet corn here in Quebec until late July. It tapers off in September, so eat your fill this month.

Varieties

The corn that makes it’s way into your farmer’s market basket is “sweet corn”. It can be yellow or white, or a happy mix of both. Although many will disagree, there is no connection between the sweetness of an ear of corn and its color.

Buying

When buying corn, look for freshly picked, firm ears with spring green husks, not dried, yellowing husks.  The silk should be pale golden and still slightly sticky and the stems green and free of brown.

It isn’t necessary (and is kind of rude) to peel back the husks and take a look at the kernels.  Those cobs cannot be re-sold after they have been torn into.

Storing

If you like your corn sweet, you’d best not store it at all! March that sack straight out to the back porch and have yourself a shucking party for your evening’s dinner. Why? Because as soon as corn is picked, the natural sugars start breaking down into starch and your corn begins to lose its sweetness.

If you must store the corn for a few days, do not shuck it first, and keep it in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator. If you want to store the corn even longer, follow our step-by-step guide to freezing corn and stock up for winter.

Cleaning

Corn silks are bothersome to sweep up off the kitchen floor, so keep the shucking party outdoors if possible, where it can be executed with abandon. And don’t forget to compost those husks.

A cold water bath and a stiff vegetable scrubber will remove those pesky silks in no time and then you are ready for cooking!

Cooking

3-5 minutes in a pot of boiling water; drain and serve with butter, fresh pepper, salt, and an occasional wedge of lime –  that’s all I do for cooking corn. I prefer to salt my corn afterward, as adding salt to the water toughens the corn.

I’ve also recently been converted to the soaking-and-grilling method, thanks to a most excellent tutorial from someone who knows, Amy of Poor Girl Gourmet. Don’t try grilling the corn if dinner is needed in a hurry though, as it takes 30 minutes, plus an hour for soaking. Still, the smokey flavor is well worth the time, so if you have a trusty teen (wait, is that a paradox?) to man the grill, put dinner on hold and wait for the grilled goods. You’ll be glad you did.

Need corn on the cob in a jiffy? Jen over at How to Simplify has a good method for microwaving corn.

Recipe: Grilled Corn & Avocado Salad with Lime & Basil

Truth be told, the above photo does little justice to this truly magnificent salad. It doesn’t capture the smokiness of the grilled corn, the smoothness of the ripe avocado, the brightness of the fresh lime or the bold flavor of the chopped basil.

For now, you’ll just have to take my word for it, but see to it that you try this salad while fresh corn is still plentiful.

  • 3 ears sweet corn, steamed
  • 1 ripe, yet firm avocado
  • 1 lime
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh chives, chopped
  • 4 large basil leaves
  • Cherry tomatoes (optional)
  1. Start by grilling ears of corn on a hot grill. They’ve already been cooked by the steaming process, so they just need to be slightly charred to add flavor.
  2. Halve avocado, rub cut side with olive oil and place on grill. Grill for a few minutes, until grill marks show.
  3. Using a sharp knife, cut kernels off the corn and into a bowl. Cool.
  4. Meanwhile, chop chives and basil, and halve cherry tomatoes, if using. Using a spoon, remove avocado from skin and cube.
  5. Combine corn, avocado, cherry tomatoes and herbs in a bowl. juice a lime over the top of everything and drizzle generously with a good quality olive oil. Gently fold together, taking care not to mush the avocado. Season with salt and fresh ground pepper and serve.

Do Ahead – This salad can be made up to 4 hours ahead of time. Keep covered and chilled.

Recipe: Corn on the Cob with Feta-Mint Butter

Adapted from Gourmet magazine.
This is the best corn for a backyard barbecue – or if you just want to sit down and eat five cobs or so by yourself. This corn elicits an immediate reaction from people, something along the lines of “What IS that?” referring to the mint, followed by “Is that FETA?” And then they are silent. Until the bowl of corn is finished. Enjoy!

  • 6 ears of corn, shucked and cut in half
  • 4 tbsp butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled or grated
  • 3 tbsp fresh mint, minced
  • 1/4 tsp (generous) kosher salt
  • fresh ground pepper
  1. In a large bowl, combine the butter, feta, minced fresh mint, and salt. Mix well.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the corn pieces. Cook for about 3 minutes, or until the corn kernels are just tender.
  3. Using tongs, remove the corn from the water, drain slightly, and place it into the bowl with the feta-butter mixture.
  4. Toss the corn in the butter mixture until all of the pieces are well-coated. Serve immediately.

Serves 4.

Head over to Gluten-Free Girl for a corn-ucopia of corn recipes in celebration of Summer Fest.

Pass the floss or hand me another ear: How do you like your corn?

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites.

Subscribe For Free!

Like reading this post?
Get more delivered to your email inbox.

Comments

  1. The corn with feta & butter looks fantastic. We love ours grilled and topped with butter and Cajun seasoning or herbs de Provence.

  2. After microwaving a cob of corn, in the husk, I would NEVER let my corn near boiling water again. 2 ears, 5 minutes…. the best corn you’ve ever eaten.

    • I’m going to try it, Vic. Do you use ‘high’ or ‘medium-high’ for the corn?

      • Microwaving corn in the husk is the way — and the only way — I prepare it too. For one ear, I microwave on high for 3 minutes, then check it. For more ears, the cooking process takes longer.

        The best part of this method of steaming the corn in its husk is that when you peel back the husk, the corn silks come off WITH the husk — easy as 1-2-3! No scrubbing needed to remove silks. Brilliant!
        gloria of Veghead etc.’s last post: Tomato mom

  3. What a timely post–we are headed to “Sweet Corn Fest” in my husband’s home town this weekend! We always grill our corn, but we only soak for about 10 minutes, and really fresh corn should cook in about 20. Thanks for the recipes!

  4. I’m a traditional corn-eater. I like it fresh, on the cob with a little butter and salt. :)

  5. Mother of Pearl says:

    Just so you know, modern corn varieties keep their sweetness for up to two weeks after picking without the rush to the pot.

    We find the best way to have corn is to boil it until the room smells like corn and then refrigerate it overnight to serve the next day. It is sweet and good and doesn’t need butter or salt or special holders to prevent burnt fingers.

  6. Catherine says:

    The salad looks delish! Can’t wait to try it.

  7. Oh, I’m so glad you are all shucking that corn and not me. I’m a tad on the scoleciphiobic side (don’t like to to meet up with critters in the husks).

    But I love corn. Yup, I think I’ll need to move back to Montreal.

  8. I happen to love corn a lot, probably too much. I especially love corn on the cob but my husband does not like corn on the cob because it gets stuck in his teeth. So instead of feeling bad that I am serving it to him, I just cut the corn off for him. I am sure this is just practice for when I have children.

    Random, my husbands grandfather is well known in the science community for his genetics work with corn. He says super sweet corn is totally not worth eating. I will trust him on that and stick with sweet corn.
    Elizabeth’s last post: New Recipes For The Week

  9. Aimee…. that corn and avocado salad is my new favorite summer salad! I will definitely be making it quite a few more times before corn is out of season!

  10. Wow, great post with so much information and awesome recipes. Love it!
    alison’s last post: Summer Comfort Food- Blueberry Bread

  11. Amanda H. says:

    Instead of putting salt in the boiling water, I throw in a little sugar. It brings out the sweetness of the corn even more.

  12. I like to eat my corn raw! If you get it at the farmer’s market, you can cut it off the cob and put it in a salad, or stir into pasta with pesto. It’s SO delicious! I’ve also used a Joy of Cooking recipe that has you puree the corn kernels into 2 cups of liquid, and use it in risotto instead of cheese. Crazy, but delicious.

  13. We tried the corn with feta last week. Everyone loved it but it was very messy and I found myself eating the remaining feta-mint mixture out of the bowl with a spoon (couldn’t waste it!). I decided it would work well as a salad rather than on-the-cob. So I cooked up some orzo, added in the feta, mint, and corn, made a olive oil based dressing (heavy on the salt and pepper – light on everything else), and tossed it all together. Heaven. Even better than heaven the second day. I think we have a new staple.

    The next time I want a fancy corn side dish I’m going to go back to your recipe though and just cut the kernels off the corn before serving it. I think that would work well too.

  14. I didn’t have any mint, so I used basil and feta on my corn. So yummy! Used the same mixture on some fried chickpeas, and it was also delicious.
    AlaskaTeacher’s last post: Creative Cooking- Zucchini Cake

Speak Your Mind

*

CommentLuv badge