Sweet Corn from local farms is the only kind that we buy around here. Over on Chowhound there has been an interesting "Native Corn" discussion going on all month. This was triggered by the early appearance of sweet corn in the Boston market.
For our take on the subject, we're updating some information we ran back in 2010. What was true then is even truer today.
“Knee high by the Fourth of July” is a nice rhyme, but this year some farmers were actually able to bring their golden ears to market by Independence Day.
Early hybrid corn varieties not only extend the corn season, but also stay sweeter longer than the heirloom versions.
Great Varieties with Great Names
Ask about the variety of sweet corn a farmer is selling. That way you’ll begin to develop your own "favorites list." Look for these in local markets: Honey & Cream, Silver Queen, Sugar & Butter, Sundance, Sugar Buns, and Early Sunglow.
And, if you find one with “Mirai” in it’s name, grab it. It’s rare, but Penny says it’s one of the best she’s ever tasted.
To Tear or Not to Tear
One Cape Cod farm where we buy corn has a sign that reads, “Sweet corn 50¢ an ear, tear the husk and it’s $2 an ear.”
You don’t have to tear down the husk and make part of the farmer’s crop unsaleable to buy great sweet corn.
Look for corn that has moist, dark-brown, almost sticky silk and a husk that doesn’t feel dry. You can feel the kernels by pressing gently on the husk to determine if the ear is fully developed and plump.
Corn should not be peeled down until just before you’re ready to drop it into a steaming cook pot.
Do you have a sweet corn question? If so add your sweet corn thoughts or questions in the comments below. Tweet them to @BostonZest or send us an email. We'll talk to our favorite farmers and try to get an answer.
Penny’s weapon of choice for working with corn is her favorite Shun Santoku Knife. But, if you like gadgets, they make a lot of them for sweet corn.
Words: Penny & Ed Cherubino
Photography: © 2010 - 2015 Penny Cherubino