Corn

corn.jpgCorn: We grow Super Sweet White, Yellow and Bi-color.

Sweet corn is a warm-season vegetable that can be grown easily in any garden with sufficient light, fertility, growing season and space. It is especially popular with home gardeners because it tastes appreciably better when it is harvested and eaten fresh from the garden. Successive plantings can yield continual harvests from early summer until frost if the weather cooperates.

Sweet corn may be divided into three distinct types according to genetic background: normal sugary (SU), sugary enhancer (SE) and supersweet (Sh2).

Standard sweet corn varieties contain a "sugary (SU) gene" that is responsible for the sweetness and creamy texture of the kernels. SUs are best suited to being picked, husked and eaten within a very short time. In the home garden, this is sometimes possible but not always practical. The old adage was "start the water boiling, run to the patch, pick and husk the corn, run back to the pot, cook the corn, and eat or process immediately."

Sugary enhancer hybrids contain the sugary enhancer (SE) gene, that significantly raises the sugar content above standard SUs while retaining the tenderness and creamy texture of standard varieties. The taste, tenderness and texture are outstanding. SEs are the gourmet corns of choice for home gardeners because they contain the best qualities of both SU and Sh2 types. Fresh from the garden, virtually all current SE releases have eating quality that is superior to all other types. No isolation from standard SUs is necessary.

Supersweet hybrids contain the shrunken -2 gene and have a higher sugar content than the standard SU varieties. The kernels of the extra-sweet varieties have a crispy, tough-skinned texture and contain low amounts of the water-soluble polysaccharides that impart the creamy texture and "corny" flavor to other sweet corn varieties. Although the lack of creamy texture is not especially noticeable in fresh corn on the cob, it affects the quality of frozen and canned corn, as does the toughness of the seed coat. Unless corn must be stored, shipped or mechanically harvested, SEs are superior in eating quality to Sh2s.

Supersweets (Sh2) should be isolated from any other type of corn tasseling at the same time to ensure sweetness and tenderness. Their pollen is weak and easily supplanted by other types, which causes the kernel to revert to a form with the toughness and starchiness of field corn. Because corn is wind-pollinated, this isolation distance can be 500 feet or more, especially downwind.

Nutritional value and health benefits: Sweet corn is high in fiber, niacin, folate and some vitamin A. Folate has been found to prevent neural-tube birth defects and current research suggests that it helps to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. Fiber, of course, helps to keep the intestinal track running smoothly.

Nutrition Facts (Serving size: 1 ear yellow sweet corn )

    Calories 83.16
    Protein 2.56 grams
    Carbohydrates 19.3 grams
    Dietary Fiber 2.15 grams
    Potassium 191.73 mg
    Vitamin A 167 IU
    Niacin 1.24 mg
    Folate 35.73 mcg

Preparation and serving: Traditionally, boiling is the way to prepare corn on the cob. However, it can be steamed, grilled, roasted, and even microwaved. When boiling sweet corn, do not add salt to the boiling water as it only serves to toughen the kernels as does overcooking.

To shuck corn, pull the husks down the ear and snap off the stem at the base. Under cold running water, rub the ear in a circular motion to remove the silk or use a stiff vegetable brush. To remove corn from the cob, you will need a sharp paring knife.

Place the shucked ear on a plate, large end down. Starting at the tip of the ear, run the knife straight down to the stem end leaving about 1/4 inch of the kernel on the cob. This prevents cutting off the tough cob fibers. Rotate the ear and cut until all the kernels have been removed. Now, using the back of the knife, gently scrape down the entire cob to remove the milk left behind.

Home preservation: Freezing is the best method for preserving the quality of sweet corn. Although it cans fairly well, it must be processed in a pressure canner for extremely long periods of time. Corn can also be pickled into corn relish.

To Freeze Sweet Corn

Select only tender, freshly gathered corn in the milk stage. Husk and trim the ears, remove silks and wash in cold water.

Corn on the cob

Water blanch small ears (1 1/4 inches or less in diameter) 7 minutes, medium ears (1-1/2 inches in diameter or more) 9 minutes. Cool in an ice water bath for approximately the same amount of time as blanching. Cool completely to prevent a "cobby" taste. Drain and package in gallon-size zip closure freezer bags. Push excess air from the bags, seal and freeze. Leave space between each bag until frozen. Note: For detailed information on blanching procedures, see Bean.

Whole Kernel Corn

Water blanch corn on the cob for 4 minutes. Cool promptly in ice water for 4 minutes. Drain and cut corn from the cob. Cut kernels from the cob about two-thirds the depth of the kernels. Package in zip closure freezer bags or rigid containers leaving 1/2 inch head space. Note: For detailed information on blancing procedures, see Beans.

Recipes:

Smothering corn with butter and salt is the traditional way of serving corn on the cob. Instead, try squeezing on fresh lemon or lime juice or brush with olive oil and sprinkle on your favorite dried herb blend. Fresh herbs, dried herbs and spices used to enhance the flavor of corn include thyme, paprika, chives, lemon balm and chervil. Garlic powder also creates a nice flavor boost as well as freshly ground black pepper.

Boiled Corn on the Cob

Drop shucked, washed, corn into a pot of rapidly boiling water. Boil for 4 minutes. The cooking time will vary depending on the size and age of the corn. Do not over cook the corn or it will toughen. Remove an ear and taste; it should still be slightly crisp. Serve with herbs, lime juice or butter and salt and black pepper.


Dried Herb Blend

(for corn and other vegetables)

  • 4 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon thyme

Combine all ingredients and pour into a shaker. Use on any vegetable instead of salt.

Crusty Skillet Corn

  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 8 medium ears of corn (kernels cut and scraped from the cob)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup flour
  1. Heat an 8-inch cast iron skillet in a 425 degree oven for about 20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, remove the corn from the cob. Place in a large bowl. Add the salt and flour to form a thick batter-like mass. All of the flour should be moist. If the corn is not fresh, you may need to add a few sprinkles of water.
  3. Carefully remove the skillet from the oven and pour the oil into the skillet. Rotate the skillet so that the oil covers the entire surface.
  4. Quickly scrape the corn mixture into the hot skillet. Press the batter into place with a spoon, do not stir.
  5. Bake until a nice crust forms on the top and it starts to brown about 20 minutes depending on sweetness of the corn.
  6. Remove and invert onto a serving plate. If it is not brown, return to the hot oven for a few more minutes. Cut into 4 wedges. The corn will be rather crumbly, so use a spatula to serve. Serves 4.