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stock photo corn-600

Everything You Need to Know About Corn

Corn is the grain of summer. Every summer, people wait with anticipation to get their hands on husks of sweet golden corn from their local grocery store, farmers’ markets or even roadside stall.

In Canada, corn is grown in every province. However, Ontario and Quebec are the primary growing areas. Driving through the country you can see rows upon rows of corn stalks with the occasional scarecrow peeking through. Most of the corn you see are varieties that produce feed for livestock, but keep your eyes peeled for sweet corn patches as well.

Corn is delicious when prepared in a variety of ways; it can be cooked on the grill or boiled on the stove and added to salads, salsas, soup, and even ice cream. Keep reading for info on how to pick the best corn for eating, how to store it, and other great meal ideas.

How to Select and Store Corn

When you’re buying corn at the market, you shouldn’t pull back the entire husk lest you get some unappreciative stares. There are other ways to see if your corn is ripe for eating.

For example, look at the tassels at the end of the cob – they should be brown and sticky. If they’re dry, that means the corn is old. The ear should be symmetrical and plump: not too fat, but not too thin either. If the husk is too fat, it might mean the corn was picked past its prime. Also, ears should feel heavy for their size. The outer husk should be bright green, and tightly wrapped around the ear, and if you feel through the husk with your fingers, the kernels underneath should feel firm and somewhat uniform. It’s okay if you pull back a bit of the husk at the top to take a peek. The kernels should be nice and plump. You can also pierce one of the kernels to make sure that the liquid inside is milky.

Once picked, the sugars in corn start turning into starch, so it’s best to eat your corn freshly picked. If you can’t eat your corn right away, you can store it in the fridge with the husk on for up to three days. It’s recommended that you leave the husk on until you are ready to cook, because it preserves the corn’s flavour.

Corn can be frozen, but you need to cook it first. Peel off the entire husk and silk, using paper towel to get rid of any remaining silk. Bring a large pot of water to a boil (big enough to fit all the corn) and put the corn in. Make sure the water is completely covering the corn. Boil for 3-10 minutes, depending on how soft you want your kernels. The longer they cook, the softer the kernels will be. Once cooked, remove from heat and allow to cool. Place cooled corn in a plastic freezer bag in the deep freezer. Whole corn will keep in the freezer for 6-12 months.

To save room and to avoid having to precook the corn, you can also cut the kernels from the cob, spread them out on a baking sheet to flash freeze, then store in a freezer bag. Kernels last about 3 months in a deep freezer. In both cases, remove as much air as possible from the bag to prevent freezer burn.


How to Prepare Corn

Corn is generally prepared two ways: grilled or boiled.

To grill corn: Soak the entire ear for at least 30 minutes. There’s no need to remove the husk or silk. Once completely soaked, place directly on the grill, turning every 5 minutes or so until the corn is done (about 25 minutes). To serve, peel back the husk and the silk should come with it. Use paper towel to brush off any remaining silk.

To boil corn:  Peel off all the husk and silk, using paper towel to get rid of any remaining silk. Bring a large pot of water to a boil (big enough to fit all the corn) and put the corn in. Boil for 3-10 minutes, depending on how soft you want your kernels. The longer they cook, the softer the kernels will be.

It should also be noted that when corn is in peak season, it can also be consumed fresh from the cob. Use a sharp chef’s knife to slice off the kernels add them to salads for a crunchy boost.

Corn Tips

  • Keep the husks on until you cook.
  • During the summer corn season, cook a bunch of fresh corn and freeze to enjoy later in the winter.
  • When you are husking corn, use a paper towel to get rid of remaining silk.
  • You can even enjoy farm-fresh corn raw. But most people enjoy eating their corn warm by boiling for at least a few minutes.
  • Before buying, carefully pull back just a little of the husk to take a peek. The kernels should be plump and if you pierce one of the kernels, the liquid inside should be milky.
  • Enjoy corn with butter and salt, or cut the corn off to add to a salsa, salad or other recipes.


Corn Goes Well With

Corn’s sweet flavour and crunch go well with almost anything. The classic way to serve it is simply to add salt and butter, but there are so many other things you can try.

Produce: arugula, avocado, bell peppers, blueberries, carrots, cauliflower, edamame, fennel, jalapeno, jicama, lime, nectarines, onions, potatoes, peaches, celery, radishes, chilies garlic, pumpkin, squash, shallots, sweet potatoes, scallions, mushrooms, and zucchini

Herbs & Spices: basil, caraway seeds, cayenne, celery seeds, cilantro, cumin, chives, coriander, dill, ginger, parsley, mint, oregano, (smoked) paprika, pepper, sage, saffron, thyme, tarragon, and turmeric.

Savoury: seafood, shellfish, poultry, beef, black beans, kidney beans, fish, lentils, wheat berries, quinoa, pasta, millet, rice and black-eyed peas

Dairy: butter, buttermilk, coconut milk, cheddar cheese, burrata cheese, feta cheese, goat cheese, Swiss cheese, parmesan cheese, Monterey jack cheese, and cream

How to Prepare Corn

Corn Serving ideas

  • Serve corn freshly grilled (see Cooking Tips), in a traditional salsa or salsa with a twist, or just boiled with salt and butter. It always makes a great summer side.
  • Pair corn with smokey flavours like baconto create an irresistible side dish that’s great for dinner on the patio, or even an easy camp side dish you throw in the skillet.
  • Add an Indian twist with this garam masala grilled cornfrom Canadian Living, or stick to more traditional type flavours with these smokey sweet corn tostadas.
  • Celebrate summer by turning fresh, seasonal corn into a delicious relish to serve over chicken or fish taco, hot dogs and more.
  • Smoky, sweet, spicy and tangy, Mexican street corn is an ideal dish for easy summer entertaining.
  • Leek, corn and chard flatbread is an excellent meatless meal that won’t disappoint.

Corn Nutrition

According to the Canadian Nutrient File, 1 medium ear of corn (103 g of edible grains) contain a great number of your daily-recommended intake of nutrients: 11% of folate, 10% of fibre (2.5 g), 10% of Vitamin C, 10% of magnesium, 7% of Vitamin B6, 7% of phosphorus, 7% of zinc, 7% of thiamine, 6% of potassium, and 3.5 g of protein.


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