How to Pick the Best Ear of Sweet Corn and Cook It Perfectly

DSC_3330We’ve all been there. Walking around the farmers market, or grocery store, hundreds maybe even thousands of ears of sweet corn piled in a bin waiting for the luck of the draw. Yes, you could rip each husk open, peer inside and make your choice that way. Or, utilize this simple and accurate way to choose your staple for summer dinner.

  1. Look for corn with silks that are brown and sticky to the touch. If the silks are black or dry, the corn is old. The more silks, the better that means there will be more kernels of corn.
  2. Feel through the husk, without peeling it, checking for plump, even kernels. And the husks should be a nice green color, not brown.
  3. Check the bottom on the ear of corn where it was broken off the stalk. If it has turned brown, it’s probably at least two days old.

You must remember, when buying fresh sweet corn, the tasty sugars start turning to starches the moment it is picked, so you will want to cook it the same day you buy it, if possible. But, sweet corn will keep in the fridge longer if you leave the husks on. Page 5 - bigstock_Corn_On_The_Cob_4473454If you buy your sweet corn from the farmers market, don’t be surprised if you find a bug, but don’t expect to see them. Delicious sweet corn starts in the field (where there are bugs). Nebraska farmers are proud to provide high-quality foods and they’re using the latest in technology to do so. Sweet corn hybrids have been grown by farmers for more than a decade. Technology has allowed a protein found in naturally occurring bacteria to be combined with sweet corn seed. It protects the sweet corn from insects that are drawn to the sweet sugar in the crop. Even some organic farms will use this bacteria to control certain insects. By building the protein into the seed, farmers can raise much more of the crop to meet demand while using about 85% less insecticide, fuel and energy (tractor trips across the field). 4H notecard2Overall, it’s a win-win for the farmer and consumer. But all this work can go to waste by overcooking that ear of corn. There are so many ways to prepare sweet corn. Boil it. Grill it. Microwave it. This is the most basic method to cook an ear of corn perfectly.

  1. Start with a pot of water on the stove.
  2. Add husked corn. When the water comes to a rapid boil, the corn is done. About 5-10 minutes.
  3. That’s it! Enjoy with butter!

For bonus, I’ll give you a couple things to avoid in the cooking process.

  1. Do not add salt to the water. It will toughen the corn as it cooks.
  2. Don’t cool the corn under cold water, unless you like soggy sweet corn.
  3. Overcooking will cause the kernels to become hard and reduce the sweetness.

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