Corn has multiple personalities. Sweet and juicy, the pale yellow veggie is the very nature of summer. But with a growing season that stretches into October, corn also has the richness and depth to hold up to autumn’s heartier cool-weather dishes. Which means, there’s no end to what you can do with corn.
Grilled corn on the cob makes a slightly sweet snack or side dish. Boiling or steaming works great too, especially if you’re in the mood for clean, bright flavor. Squeeze a bit of lime and sprinkle with salt and pepper before eating. There’s really no limit what you can do with the fresh kernels of corn. They add a touch of juiciness to quesadillas and mixed salads and lend their sweetness to a chunky salsa or relish. Add to potpies and pasties; corn gives these rich baked dishes a hint of crunchiness. Reduce the corn to make a pudding-like sauce or show off their sweetness by making some homemade sweet corn ice cream.
Get creative. But first, you’ll need to pick up some fresh corn.
To buy: As soon as it’s picked, corn’s natural sugars begin to turn to starch, which over time robs the cobs of their sweetness. Head to your farmers’ market or supermarket and ask when the corn was picked. You want to buy it as close to picking as possible.
Look for: Ears with bright green husks that fit snugly against the corn. The silk should be a golden brown and a little sticky (which shows you that the corn was picked recently). Peek inside the husks. The kernels should be plump, spaced tightly and visible all the way to the tip of the ear.
Use it or lose it: Corn will taste best if you use it within a day of buying it. Corn will stay sweet up to 3 days if you tightly wrap the ears in a plastic bag and keep in the fridge.
Kinds: Yellow, aka Golden Bantam, has large kernels and a strong corn flavor. White, or Country Gentleman, are smaller and sweeter tasting, while butter and sugar, a mix of white and yellow, offers up the best of both worlds. Indian corn has red, blue, brown and purple kernels. We see it used mostly as decoration but it’s edible. Just don’t cook up the centerpiece. It’s definitely been dried and probably coated with varnish.
Go organic: There’s a lot of talk these days about genetically modified organisms, whether they carry health risks, their impact on agriculture and whether GMO foods should be clearly labeled. Some 61 percent of corn grown in the US is genetically modified. To avoid GMO, you have to buy organic.
I first fell in love with corn eating my mum’s gorgeous muffins, which inspired these Corn and Bacon Muffins with Herb Butter.