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Enjoy Fresh Corn This Summer!

Here are some tips to remember when choosing the freshest sweet corn.

Nashville, Ark. – During July, we enjoy fresh produce from our gardens and one of my favorites is fresh corn. Whether you put it on the grill or cooked to perfection on the cob, nothing is better than biting into an ear of fresh sweet corn. If you have corn growing in your garden, chances are you have picked it or you are getting ready to harvest it soon. If you must rely on choosing fresh ears of corn at the grocery store or Farmers Market, there are some tricks to picking the best ears.

            If you want the freshest sweet corn, look for ones with silks that are brown and dry, the tips of the ears should be full. To check the corn, pull back the husks at the end of the ears and make sure the kernels are filled out. High quality corn has tender kernels that are milky and well developed. Kernels should be large enough to be compact on the cob with no space between the rows.

            For best quality, the corn should be in the milk stage, which means the corn is at its sweetest. If a kernel is broken, you should see white milk. If there is no liquid, the ear is past its prime and the kernels will be tough and doughy.

            For maximum sweetness, corn should be enjoyed as soon as it is picked. If sweet corn cannot be eaten right away, leave it in the husks, remove the shanks and store uncovered in the refrigerator for no longer than 5 days.

            If it is necessary to refrigerate for later use, cool rapidly to below 40ºF to retain sweetness and tenderness because the sugar in corn turns to starch quickly at higher temperatures. For storage past 5 days, preserve the corn by freezing, canning or drying. The Cooperative Extension Service has detailed instructions for preserving corn safely. You can contact me at 870-845-7517 or visit my office on the second floor of the courthouse. I’ll be glad to share this information with you.

            When looking to buy fresh corn from the Farmers Market or a roadside stand, ask when it was picked. Corn picked early in the morning is the best. As it sits in the sun, sugar starts to convert to starch affecting the flavor. Hot temperatures will definitely affect the flavor.

            Sweet corn is a great source of potassium, magnesium and fiber. It also contains folate, which may reduce your risk of heart disease. Eating foods with folate before pregnancy helps in brain development of the fetus.

            To prepare fresh corn, pull the husks down and snap off the stem at the base of the ear. To remove silk, rub the ear in a circular direction under cold running water or use a vegetable brush.

            Grilled corn is delicious and easy to prepare. Remove the silks and husks and season the ears with olive oil and dried herbs. Herbs like thyme, paprika, chives, lemon balm, garlic powder and pepper bring out the flavor of corn. You can wrap the ears in aluminum foil or grill directly on the grill.

            For more information on preserving foods safely or increasing fresh vegetables in your diet, contact the Howard County Extension Office.

Recipe of the Week

            Enjoy fresh corn on the cob cooked on the grill. Here are the instructions.

Sweet Corn on the Cob

8 ears of corn, silk removed

1 ½ Tablespoons olive oil

½ cup margarine, melted

2 Tablespoons minced garlic

1 teaspoon crushed rosemary

1 teaspoon rubbed sage

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

1 ½ teaspoons salt

1 ½ teaspoons pepper

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

            Combine all the ingredients, except corn in a small bowl. Brush mixture on ears of corn. Wrap ears in aluminum foil. Grill for about 20 to 30 minutes, turning frequently. Remove from the grill and check for doneness. If needed, cook an additional 5 to 10 minutes.

Note: If you would like to grill in the husks, pull back the husks and remove the silks. Wash the ear well and pull husk back to top. Soak the ears in cold water for 1 to 3 hours. Drain the corn well and pull back husk and pat dry. Season with mixture. Pull the husks back up on the corn, and tie the top of the husks, or twist tightly before grilling.

By Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
421 N. Main St, Nashville AR 71852
(870) 845-7517
jince@uaex.edu

 

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