Ask any farmer or backyard gardener about fresh corn and they’ll tell you the best way to cook it. Put a pot of water on to boil before you run out to the garden, pick the corn, shuck it on the way back to the house and plunge it into boiling water.
Since most of us don’t have backyard crops, we must buy corn at the farmers market or grocery store. We’ll take it anywhere we can get it during July and August.
Here are some suggestions on how to select, store and prepare fresh corn, a good source of fiber and B vitamins.
Look for ears with green husks, moist stems and silk ends that are free of decay. Kernels should be small, tender, plump and milky when pierced, and they should fill up all the spaces in the rows.
Keep unshucked fresh corn in the refrigerator until ready to use, wrapped in damp paper towels and placed in a plastic bag. Typical shelf life is four to six days.
• To steam: Remove husks and silks. Trim stem ends. Stand ears in a tall pot with 1 inch of water. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and steam for 5 minutes.
• To microwave: Place ears of corn, still in husks, in a single layer in the microwave. Microwave on high for 2 minutes, turning the ears halfway through cooking time. Allow corn to rest several minutes before removing the husks and silks.
• To boil: Remove husks and silks. Trim stem ends. Carefully place ears in large pot of boiling water. Cook 2 to 4 minutes, or until the kernels are tender.
Corn tastes even better when it has a smoky flavor from the grill. Here’s how to grill corn in the husk from Fine Cooking.
• Peel away the outer layers of husk. If the ears have many layers, peel off the first few, leaving a few layers for protection but allowing the kernels to caramelize a little.
• Put the corn on the grill as soon as the initial flames from the charcoal die down and the coals are still red-hot. Corn protected by its husk is very forgiving, so if a few flames lick the ears and light the husks, don’t worry. Take care, however, not to crowd the grill, which would choke off too much air to the coals.
• Grill the corn, turning often, until the first layer of husk is charred completely. Depending on your fire, this could take 5-10 minutes. You can push the corn to a cooler spot if you’re grilling other things for your meal, or transfer the grilled corn to a platter and keep it warm in the charred husks until serving.
• Just before serving, peel back the husk and brown the kernels on the grill, turning the corn frequently. You don’t need to oil the corn for grilling directly like this, as it takes only a minute or so for it to develop a roasty color and a little additional smoke flavor. But if the corn spends too long on the grill without the protection of the husk, the kernels will become dry and a bit chewy.
• To remove the corn from its husk, cut the stem end up to the bottom of the ear and peel back the husks and silk. You might need to brush away burnt silks. Now just dress the corn as you like: butter, olive oil, salt.
Smoky Corn and Jalapeno Dip
2 large ears of corn, husks on
2 jalapeno peppers
½ cup mayonnaise
½ cup sour cream
½ cup grated Cheddar cheese
½ cup grated pepper Jack cheese
¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
¼ teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
Set grill to medium high heat. Grill corn with husks on for 20 minutes, rotating every 5 minutes, until outsides are lightly charred. During last 5 minutes, grill jalapeno peppers until lightly blackened. Remove husks and silks from corn, and cut kernels off the cob. Seed and mince jalapeno peppers, reserving seeds if more heat is desired. In a large bowl, mix corn, jalapeno, mayonnaise, sour cream and cheeses until well combined. Add smoked paprika and kosher salt. Taste for seasoning and adjust if desired. Chill until ready to use. Serve with classic potato chips or tortilla chips. From Thekitchn.com.
Fresh Corn Salad
¾ cup light sour cream
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
¾ teaspoon seasoned salt
3 cups fresh corn kernels (about 5 ears)
1 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1 cup finely chopped green onions
Combine first 3 ingredients in large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add corn and remaining ingredients, stirring to combine. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving. From Cooking Light.
Summer Corn Cakes with Chopped Tomato and Avocado Salsa
3 ears corn, shucked
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup yellow cornmeal
¼ cup diced red onion
¼ cup thinly sliced fresh basil
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons well-shaken buttermilk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Canola oil, for frying
1 large tomato, cored and chopped
1 scallion, trimmed and minced
½ jalapeno pepper, cored, seeded and diced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 garlic clove, minced
Juice of ½ lime
1½ teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1½ teaspoons white wine vinegar
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 avocado, peeled, pitted and diced
To make corn cakes: Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Line baking sheet with brown paper bag. Cut corn from cobs into a large bowl and scrape the stripped cobs with the back of the knife (or a spoon) to release juices into bowl. Place 2 cups corn kernels into a food processor, and pulse several times, until corn is slightly pureed but still chunky. Scrape into bowl with the remaining corn kernels. Add flour, cornmeal, onion, basil, baking powder, baking soda, salt and pepper to the corn. Stir to mix. Add eggs, buttermilk and butter, and stir just to combine; do not overmix. Place a large skillet over medium heat, add just enough canola oil to barely cover bottom, and heat until sizzling hot. Scoop batter into skillet, one heaping tablespoon at a time. Cook in batches of four to five to avoid overcrowding. Fry the cakes 1-2 minutes per side until golden brown. Drain on a lined baking sheet and place in oven to keep warm while cooking remaining corn cakes. Serve warm topped with a heap of chopped tomato and avocado salsa. Makes about 1 dozen cakes.
To make salsa: Place tomato, scallion, jalapeno, cilantro, basil, garlic, lime juice, olive oil, vinegar and salt and black pepper to taste in a bowl and stir to mix. Refrigerate in an airtight container until ready to serve, for up to two days. Just before serving, add avocado, and mix gently. Makes about 2 cups. From Sara Foster’s Southern Kitchen.
Fresh Corn and Red Pepper Tamales
8 ears of corn (enough for 24 corn husks and 1½ cups fresh corn kernels)
½ cup red pepper dice
½ cup sour cream
½ cup milk
3 tablespoons cornmeal
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Sour cream and paprika for garnish
Remove husks from corn, saving the large inner ones and discarding the very outer and small inside husks (you’ll need 3 husks for each tamale). In a large bowl, cover husks with hot water and leave to soak. With a sharp knife over a large mixing bowl, remove corn kernels from cobs, saving all the juices. You should have about 1½ cups corn. Add red pepper, sour cream, milk, cornmeal, baking powder, salt and cayenne pepper and stir to mix. Drain husks thoroughly in a colander and pat dry with paper towels. Place about ¼ cup corn filling onto 1 husk and spread it slightly lengthwise. Bring top and bottom ends to the center, overlapping slightly. Wrap another husk around it lengthwise, forming a cylindrical shape. Use one more husk to seal and secure the shape by wrapping the opposite way. Using butchers twine, tie securely crosswise and make a knot. Place tamales in a steamer over simmering water and steam for 1 hour. Remove with slotted spatula. Cut strings and remove. Cool slightly, then serve with dollop of sour cream and a drift of paprika. From Food Network.