Growing up in Nebraska corn was a nightly summer menu item. The corn plant is Native American in origin and Nebraska is corn country. Driving through the state, one will see endless fields of sweet corn, feed corn, and pop corn. Small plot gardeners know that corn takes up a lot of space as it is greedy for soil nutrients, prone to weeds and disease, destroyed by small animals, wind and frost. So then why do we go through all the trouble of growing corn? Because no corn is as fresh and sweet as the corn you grow yourself.
The period of peak freshness for sweet corn is measured in minutes, not hours or days. The best corn is simply the freshest corn. Proper timing for harvest is crucial to the quality of sweet corn. Harvest sweet corn when the ears are full and blunt at the tip. The husks should be tightly folded and green. Using your thumbnail, poke and end kernel. It should squirt a milky white sap. Under ripe corn will contain a watery liquid. Overripe corn will have a tough skinned kernel with doughy interiors. Also look at the silk, which should be turning brown and dry on the end.
Storing sweet corn for long periods of time will destroy it. The sugar quickly turns to starch, losing flavor, quality, and most of all sweetness. If you must store sweet corn, use perforated plastic bags and get it into the refrigerator as soon as possible. Warm temperatures hasten the conversion process. Try to use the corn within 1 to 2 days and DO NOT husk until just prior to cooking.
“Work With What You Got!”
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