Gardening Articles: Edibles :: Vegetables

Cooking and Storing Corn

by National Gardening Association Editors

Biting into fresh corn on the cob slathered with butter is one of life's true pleasures. Growing your own sweet corn allows you the simple luxury of savoring the unbeatable, indescribable flavor of eating it minutes after it's picked.

Here's a rundown on several ways you can prepare this summertime favorite. With each of these methods, the crucial factor is freshness. For most varieties have the water boiling before you pick your corn. With many of the heirloom varieties, a few minutes can make a big difference. For the supersweet varieties you can slow down a bit because their sweetness will last for a few days. For the best flavor, corn on the cob should be served immediately after it's cooked.

Most people will develop their own favorite cooking technique, but to get you started here are several to try out. Cooking methods and times vary according to taste, so try them all and use whichever you prefer.

Boiling - Remove the husks and silks from freshly picked ears of corn. Drop ears one at a time into enough boiling water to cover. Boil covered 5 to 8 minutes (more mature ears need longer boiling time). Remove ears with tongs and serve.

Steaming - Husk the corn and place it in a perforated steamer over rapidly boiling water. Cover and steam 8 to 12 minutes, depending on the corn's maturity.

Roasting or Grilling - Corn is a natural for roasting because its husk is a ready-made steam cooker. Preheat oven to 475oF or have your grill good and hot. Remove the outer layer of husk, and turn down the inner layer. Remove silks and dip corn, husk and all, in water. Drain. Pull husk back around ear and place on rack in hot oven or over hot coals for 20 to 25 minutes, turning frequently. Remove husks and serve.

Microwaving - Peel down husks and remove silks. Brush ears with melted butter and pull up husks. Fasten with string or rubber bands. Place in microwave oven, allowing at least one inch between ears. Cook 4 minutes at full power and turn ears over. Cook 4 minutes more on full power. Let stand 2 to 3 minutes, then turn back the husks and serve. (Recipe courtesy of Sharp Electronics Corporation.)

Roasting Ears

Many southerners were raised on the rich, full flavor and chewy texture of white field corn picked early. The following directions for cooking this southern specialty come from long-time gardener Darryl Riggins of Georgia.

For best thickening action, use a variety such as Trucker's Favorite, Tennessee Red Cob or Hickory King. Harvest just like sweet corn, when the ears are plump and milky, then shuck the ears and remove the silks.

Cut down the cob, slicing halfway or less through the kernels. With your knife scrape the cob to force all the milk out. Pour your treasure into an iron skillet, add a knob of butter, salt, pepper and milk. Cover and cook over low heat 10 to 15 minutes, or until mixture starts thickening. Add more milk to keep the consistency right (about like applesauce).

Serve with cube steak, biscuits and gravy, fried okra and sliced tomato.

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