Fresh Corn


Corn is an icon of American culture. Not only does it represent Native American traditions and serve as a symbol of both summertime BBQ fun and a night out at the movies, but corn, in the form of corn syrup, is also an added ingredient in many other foods that we consume in our daily diets.


Other names: Corn On The Cob, Green Corn
Translations: Svaigi Corn, Šviežia Kukurūzų, Proaspete de porumb, Svježe kukuruza, ताजा मकई, Свежая кукуруза, Νωπά Corn, الذرة الطازجة, 신선한 옥수수, Čerstvá kukuřice, Jagung Segar, 鲜食玉米, El blat de moro dolç, Sveže Corn, Čerstvá kukurica, תירס טרי, Färska Corn, Свеже кукуруза, フレッシュコーン, Frais de maïs, Friske Corn, El maíz dulce, Свіжа кукурудза, Tuore Corn, Прясна царевица

Physical Description

Although we often associate corn with the color yellow, it actually comes in host of different varieties featuring an array of different colors, such as red, pink, black, and blue. Corn grows in "ears," each of which is covered in rows of kernels that are then protected by the silk-like threads called "corn silk" and encased in a husk.

Colors: white, pale yellow to dark yellow, gold, red and brown

Tasting Notes

Flavors: sweet
Mouthfeel: Crunchy, Crisp, Juicy
Food complements: Tomatoes, Onions, Cheese, Meats, Citrus
Beverage complements: Beer, Hard cider, Milk
Substitutes: Fresh frozen corn, Canned corn

Selecting and Buying

Seasonality: january, february, march, april, may, june, july, august, september, opctober, november, december
Choosing: Since heat rapidly converts the sugar in corn to starch, it is very important to choose corn that is displayed in a cool place. If shopping for corn in the supermarket, make sure it is refrigerated. If purchasing corn at a farmer's market or roadside stand, make sure that if the corn is not refrigerated, it has at least been kept in the shade, out of direct sunlight.

Look for corn whose husks are fresh and green and not dried out. They should envelope the ear and not fit too loosely around it. To examine the kernels, pull back part of the husk. The kernels should be plump and tightly arranged in rows. You can test for the juiciness of the corn by taking your fingernail and pressing on a kernel. Corn that is fresh will exude a white milky substance.

f you're watching your weight or your blood sugar levels, choose blue corn chips and tortillas. Corn comes in a rainbow of colors, including violet, blue, and black. Darker varieties contain greater quantities of antioxidant pigments called anthocyanins. Blue corn tortillas contain about 20% more protein and 8% less starch giving them a lower glycemic index than the more common version made with white corn; plus blue corn tortillas have a softer texture and sweeter flavor than those made with white corn, reports Dr. Luis Bello-Perez in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture.

Buying: You can buy corn on your local markets and supermarkets.
Procuring: 1. Soil Preparation : Choose a wind sheltered spot in full sun which provides good drainage and enough humus to insure that the ground will not dry out too quickly in hot weather. Ideally, the top soil should be slightly acidic, deep and very fertile. Dig up your plot in the winter being sure not to bring clay to the surface and incorporate a good grade of compost into the soil. Two weeks prior to sowing the seed, rake in a good source of fertilizer.

2. Sowing & Planting : For the best results, corn must be planted in a rectangle of at least 4 rows opposed to a singular row. This will not only insure proper pollination, but provide some wind protection to the crop. Sow the seeds directly into the ground opposed to starting them in trays or pots as corn can be difficult to transplant. Sow two seeds together approximately one inch deep every 18 inches in the row and remove the weaker of each two seedlings, leaving 18 inches between the remaining plants.

3. Looking After the Plants : Protect your seedlings with netting if birds are a nuisance and keep down the weeds but do not hoe close to the plants. If roots appear at the base of the plant's stem, mound dirt or compost over them. These protruding roots, which are referred to as "tillers", should not be removed. If the plants are tall and little protection is available, it may be wise to stake each plant for extra support. Be sure to provide plenty of water for the plants in hot water, which is especially necessary when they flower. Make it a habit to tap the tassles at the top of each stem regularly as this will aid in germination. Feed the plants with a good liquid fertilizer source when the cobs begin to swell.

4. Harvesting : Each plant will produce several harvestable cobs. Test the cobs for ripeness when the silks (tassles) have turned a dark brown color by pulling back part of the sheath (husk) and squeeze a couple of the grains between the thumbnail and fingernail. If a watery liquid squirts out from the kernel, the ear is unripe. If the discharge is creamy, the ear is prime for harvesting, where as if the liquid is thick and somewhat solid, you have waited too long to harvest. Carefully twist the ripe ear from the plant's stem, being careful not to injure the plant. Harvest just before you intend to cook the corn as this crop is at its best if cooked within 10 minutes of harvest.

5. Storage : If storage is necessary, corn can stay fresh in your refrigerator for up to 3 days, but can also be frozen for the freezer in zip-lock freezer bags.

Preparation and Use

Corn can be cooked either with or without its husk in a variety of different ways. If using the wet heat methods of boiling or steaming, make sure not to add salt or overcook as the corn will tend to become hard and lose its flavor. Or, they can be broiled in the husk. If broiling, first soak the corn in the husk ahead.

Conserving and Storing

To enjoy corn's maximum flavor, purchase it on the day you are going to cook it since corn has a tendency to lose its flavor relatively rapidly. Store corn in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. Do not remove its husk since this will protect its flavor. To enjoy its optimal sweetness, corn should be eaten as soon as possible.

Fresh corn freezes well if placed in heavy-duty freezer bags. To prepare whole ears for freezing, blanch them first for seven to eleven minutes depending upon their size (larger ears take a longer time to blanch than smaller ones). If you just want to freeze the kernels, first blanch the ears for about five minutes and then cut the kernels off the cob at about three-quarters of their depths. Whole corn on the cob will keep for up to one year, while the kernels can be frozen for two to three months.


When Columbus reached the Americas, corn was not the only plant Europeans had never seen before. There were many others. And Europeans in turn, introduced several new plants to the native people living in the Americas.

History: Scientists believe people living in central Mexico developed corn at least 7000 years ago. It was started from a wild grass called teosinte. Teosinte looked very different from our corn today. The kernels were small and were not placed close together like kernels on the husked ear of modern corn. Also known as maize Indians throughout North and South America, eventually depended upon this crop for much of their food.

From Mexico maize spread north into the Southwestern United States and south down the coast to Peru. About 1000 years ago, as Indian people migrated north to the eastern woodlands of present day North America, they brought corn with them.

When Europeans like Columbus made contact with people living in North and South America, corn was a major part of the diet of most native people. When Columbus "discovered" America, he also discovered corn. But up to this time, people living in Europe did not know about corn.

The first Thanksgiving was held in 1621. While sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie were not on the menu, Indian corn certainly would have been.

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