Corn Comes in Many Varieties

There’s nothing better than sitting down to a big crisp ear of sweet summer corn on the cob, dripping with butter. Grilled or boiled, corn on the cob is a real treat that’s hard to top for flavor, freshness, and just plain delicious fun. Corn is now available at your local farmers’ market June through most of October. G&S Farms brings the famous sweet Brentwood corn to market. And our Hmong growers, Yia Moua Farms and Franklin Thor Farms, have an Asian favorite called “sticky” corn or waxy corn.

Corn has a long and varied history and it wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for humans who developed it. Corn as we know it does not grow in the wild. It was developed from a grass called teosinte. (Most people think of corn as a vegetable, but it’s really a grain). Scientists believe that corn was developed by the native peoples living in central Mexico over 7000 years ago. Also known as maize, the natives throughout North and South America, eventually depended on maize for most of their diet. Corn spread throughout the Americas and was discovered by explorers from Europe who had never seen corn.  There are numerous varieties of corn nowadays, but here are a few varieties:

Flint corn, also known as Indian corn, has a hard outer shell and kernels with a range of colors from white to red. Today, most flint corn is grown in Central and South America.

Dent corn, often called “field corn” is often used as livestock feed. It is also the main kind of corn used when making industrial products and various foods. It can be either white or yellow.

Sweet corn is often eaten on the cob or it can be canned or frozen. Sweet corn is seldom processed into feed or flour. Sweet corn gets its name because it contains more sugar than other types of corn.

“Sticky” corn: Sold by Asian growers, chewy and more glutinous than other corn. Needs to be cooked longer. In addition, there’s even the purple sticky corn (even stickier than the white sticky corn!)–kernels are purple w/ regular, green husks.

(And of course, there’s the popcorn variety, but that’s another story.)

Selection and Storage: Corn is best stored in a cool environment since warm temperatures will convert the sugar in the corn to starch. Your farmers’ market producer should be displaying their corn in cold or iced containers. When selecting individual ears, check the freshness of each one by gently peeling back the husk to examine it, being careful not to ruin it for the next customer. Ears should have full, even ears with straight rows of bright, shiny kernels. The husks should be bright green with the silk ends free from decay and obvious worm damage. Refrigerate your corn in the high humidity storage bin as soon as you get home. It is best to refrigerate corn with the husks attached to keep it moist, but if the corn has already been husked, partially or fully, refrigerate it in a perforated plastic bag.

Easy Grilled Corn

Husk corn and remove silk. Lay the corn on a piece of aluminum foil that is large enough to wrap around the corn cob several times. Rub butter on the corn and sprinkle with salt. If you would like a spicy ear of corn, sprinkle chili powder on the corn at this time. Another option is to squeeze some lime juice on the corn and then sprinkle the chili powder (after putting butter and salt). Wrap corn in foil making sure to cover tightly and place on a hot grill (at least 400 degrees).

Roast the corn for 45 minutes to 1 hour, turning about every 10 minutes with tongs. If foil starts to turn black that means the grill is too hot, so turn down the heat a bit and cook slower. Carefully unwrap. Add more butter and salt if desired. Flavored butters like garlic butter, herb butter, or cheese butter can enhance the grilled flavors.

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