Prepare and Grill Corn on the Cob

Sweet Corn Preparation | Sweet Corn Cooking | Grilling Sweet Corn | Tips

Sweet Corn

Corn is a tall cereal plant consisting of strong jointed stems supporting large ears containing kernels. Out of the different types of corn grown, sweet corn is one of the most popular varieties for human consumption. Sweet corn is a good source of vitamin A, magnesium, and potassium, and is often considered to be a vegetable, rather than a grain. This confusion is probably due to the fact that it is eaten fresh like a vegetable. When harvested at the proper ripeness, the kernels of sweet corn are tender and have a sweet, juicy taste. The three types of sweet corn that are readily available are white corn (white kernels), yellow corn (yellow kernels), and a hybrid of both white and yellow, often referred to as peaches and cream or butter and sugar corn. Sweet corn can be processed into syrup, sugars used as sweeteners in soft drinks, starch, and cereals.

Uses:

During the summer months when it is available fresh, it is most often cooked and eaten on the cob. Sweet corn is also cut off the cob and eaten as a vegetable side dish or added as an ingredient to other dishes, such as soups, stews, casseroles, and salads. The corn can be cut from the cob, raw or cooked, and then preserved by canning or freezing for future use.

At Their Best:

Sweet corn is at its best during the late summer months to early fall. An exception to that is in Florida where sweet corn is harvested from fall to spring. To receive the best flavor from sweet corn, it should be eaten as soon as possible after it is picked because the sugars will begin to convert to starches as soon as it has been picked.

How to Buy:

When selecting, look for husks that have good green coloring with pale colored silk. To check the freshness, pull the top of the husk away from the ear and pierce a kernel with your fingernail. If the kernel releases a slightly cloudy juice it is typically a fresh batch. If the kernels are dented or discolored, the corn is not fresh. Avoid sweet corn with dried or dark colored silk or discolored husks. Buying sweet corn from a road side stand may result in corn that has lost much of its sweetness from being exposed to high temperatures. The high temperatures will rapidly convert the corns sugar to starch, causing it to lose some of its sweet flavor.

Storage:

To store corn, leave the corn in the husk and refrigerate as soon as possible. If corn has been husked, place it in a plastic bag and store in the refrigerator. It is best to eat it as soon as possible. Corn cut off the cob can be frozen for 6 months to a year.

Varieties:

Yellow Sweet Corn

The largest portion of the different varieties of sweet corn are yellow sweet corn. All the kernels on the cob are yellow in color. The size of the cob and the corn's taste will vary between different varieties. Most commercially grown sweet corn is yellow.

White Corn

White sweet corn varies from the others in that it has all white kernels. It has the same sweet and juicy flavor as the yellow corn and the peaches and cream corn. It is used in the same manner as yellow corn. White sweet corn is not generally grown for commercial use. It is more often found at local markets.

Peaches and Cream Corn

Peaches and Cream corn, also referred to as butter and sugar, differ from the other varieties in that it contains both white and yellow kernels. White and yellow kernel sweet corn is not generally grown for commercial use. It is more often found at local markets.

Sweet Corn Preparation

Shucking - Removing the Husk from the Sweet Corn

Shuck the corn by peeling back the husk and completely removing it.
Remove the thin silk that runs along the kernels of the corn. Remove excess silk with a vegetable brush or with a damp paper towel.
Break or cut off any remaining corn stalk. The corn is now ready to cook.

Tip: Remove silk when shucking corn by using a damp paper towel for collecting the silk. Moisten the paper towel and hold the towel against the cob, moving the towel down the cob and allowing the silk to stick to the towel. This method works well for removing small strands of silk that often adhere to the cob after the leaves are removed. This method protects the kernels by not having to use other methods of removal that cause damage.

Removing Kernels from the Cob

The sweet corn kernels can be removed from the cob and cooked as a side dish or added as in ingredient in other dishes. The kernels are also cut off the cob to be canned or frozen so they can be stored for future use.

Remove kernels by standing the ear of corn upright on a cutting board. Using a sharp utility or chef's knife, cut the kernels straight down along the corn cob to free numerous rows of kernels at the same time.

Sweet Corn Cooking

The most popular way to eat sweet corn is on the cob. It is generally husked before cooking but can be cooked using methods that call for the husks to be left on. When boiling sweet corn, avoid adding salt to the water because it will cause the corn to toughen when it cooks. Also, it is important to cook the corn only until it is tender. Overcooking will cause the corn to lose its sweet flavor and will cause the kernels to become hard. The instructions below show several methods that can be used for cooking sweet corn.

Stove Top:

Option #1: This method works best when cooking large amounts of corn.

  1. Place shucked corn into a large pot and cover with cold water.
  2. Add a teaspoon of sugar to keep corn sweet and tender.
  3. Bring pot to a boil.
  4. When water comes to a rapid boil, the corn is done.
  5. Remove from the heat, drain, and serve. Corn can stand in the hot water (away from heat) for 5 or 10 minutes.

Option #2: This method works best when cooking smaller amounts of corn.

  1. Place water into a deep skillet. Add at least an inch of water but do not add too much that the water will overflow when corn is added.
  2. Add approximately 1/2 teaspoon of sugar to the water. Do not add salt.
  3. Bring the water to a boil.
  4. Place shucked corn into the skillet. The corn does not have to be completely covered.
  5. Cook corn from 5 to 7 minutes, depending on desired tenderness. Do not overcook.
  6. Drain and serve.

Microwave:

Option #1: Four ears cooked with husks on.

  1. Rinse corn, soaking husk well.
  2. Place wet corn on a paper towel in the microwave.
  3. Microwave on high from 3 to 5 minutes.
  4. Turn cobs and microwave an additional 3 to 5 minutes, depending on desired tenderness.
  5. Let rest for 1 minute before eating.

Option #2: Four ears cooked with husks off.

  1. Rinse ears of shucked corn and wrap each ear in a damp paper towel.
  2. Microwave on high for 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Turn cobs and microwave an additional 2 to 3 minutes, depending on desired tenderness.
  4. Let rest for 1 minute before eating.

Grilling Sweet Corn

Husks On | Husks Off

Husks On - Option #1

Peel back the husk without removing it from the corn cob.
Remove the thin silk that runs along the kernels of the corn. Remove excess silk with a vegetable brush or with a damp paper towel.
Fold husk back. Secure husk with kitchen twine.
Soak the corn in water for 1 to 3 hours before placing on the grill.
Place prepared corn on the grill directly over medium heat.
Cook 20 to 30 minutes, turning frequently throughout cooking time. Corn is done when it starts to steam.
When done, the husks will be charred but the corn inside the husks will be sweet and tender with a nice roasted flavor.

Husks On - Option #2

  1. Using a kitchen scissors, trim excess silk from the end of the corn.
  2. Soak corn in cold water for a minimum of 1 hour.
  3. Before placing on grill, shake to remove excess water.
  4. Grill for approximately 25 to 30 minutes, turning frequently.
  5. The husk and any remaining silk is removed after grilling. Use heat resistant gloves to protect your hands.

Husks Off - Option #1

Shuck the corn as shown above by peeling back the husk and completely removing it. Remove the thin silk that runs along the kernels of the corn. Remove excess silk with a vegetable brush or with a damp paper towel. Break or cut off any excess corn stalk.

Wrap each individual ear in aluminum foil. Spread softened butter on the ear and then season as desired.

After spreading butter and seasoning, wrap each ear tightly with the foil.
Puncture the foil to allow excess steam to escape while grilling.

 

Place the foil wrapped corn on the grill directly over medium heat. Cook for 20 to 30 minutes, turning frequently throughout cooking time.

Remove corn from the grill and carefully open the foil wrap. Check corn for doneness. If it is not done, wrap the ear back up and place it back on the grill for 4 or 5 additional minutes.

Husks Off - Option #2

Carefully pull husks back off from the corn but do not detach it at the end. Remove the silk.

Tie the husks with string to hold them back and form a handle at the end of the ear of corn.

Mix 6 tablespoons of softened butter with 1 clove of garlic (minced) and 1 to 2 tablespoons of minced parsley. Stir butter mixture until smooth and then spread lightly on the ear of corn.
Place corn on the grill directly over medium heat. Arrange so that the husks hang off the edge of the grill or place foil under the husks in the area the husks will be placed. This will prevent them from burning.
Cook for 10 to 12 minutes. Turn the corn frequently during the cooking time. Brush ears with the remaining butter mixture as they are cooking.
When the corn is done the ears will be golden brown. Remove from the grill and serve while warm.

Tips

  • Do not add salt to the water when cooking sweet corn because the salt will toughen the corn. Add a little sugar to the water to boost the flavor.
  • To cook a couple of pieces of sweet corn in a hurry, place two or three ears in a resealable plastic bag and add 1 tablespoon of water for each ear. Leave a slight opening in the bag and cook on high in the microwave for 2 minutes. Check for doneness and if not done, cook for an additional 30 seconds.
  • Sweet corn will lose its sweetness much faster if stored at room temperature compared to storing in the refrigerator. It is best to eat it as soon as possible after it has been picked.
  • Two to three medium ears of corn are equivalent to approximately 1 pound, depending on ear size. Two medium ears equal approximately 1 to 1 1/2 cups of kernels.
  • If harvesting your own sweet corn, it is best to pick it early in the morning and eat it as soon as possible. If not cooking it soon after it is picked, store in the refrigerator until ready to cook.

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