Everything to Know about Corn

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When the temperature rises, and the sun shines, it’s the perfect time to indulge in the delightful sweetness of juicy corn.

From picking and shucking to savoring its deliciousness, here’s a comprehensive guide. Discover tips on selecting the best ears, mastering the art of cutting, and storing corn effectively.

What Is Corn?

Corn, a versatile vegetable and grain, consists of starchy kernels attached to a woody cob enveloped by corn silk and a protective husk. While many discard everything except the kernels, every part of the plant has its uses.

The husks can be transformed into delicious tamales, the cobs can add thickness to stocks, the stalks make nutritious animal feed, and even the it’s silk can be brewed into soothing teas.

Various types of corn are dried and ground to create an array of corn-based products. These include cornmeal, which is produced by drying and grinding dent corn; hominy, also known as posole, made from yellow or white field corn that’s dried and soaked in hydrated lye; and grits, typically derived from ground corn, often using starchy and less sweet varieties like dent corn, although heirloom varietals are also utilized.

From a nutritional perspective, it boasts a higher calorie content compared to other vegetables, as explained by Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, FAND, a renowned nutrition expert and author of the Wall Street Journal best-selling book “Diabetes Create Your Plate Meal Prep Cookbook.” Toby emphasizes that calorie-wise, it is similar to grains like rice, with one cup of cooked corn providing 130 calories and 1.8 grams of fat.

Corn is an excellent source of thiamin, a B vitamin crucial for energy production, and it also offers a good amount of fiber, protein, vitamin C, and potassium.

When Is Corn In Season?

Sweet corn reaches its peak season in the United States from May to September, encompassing most regions across all 50 states. This wide distribution allows easy access to sweet corn, found at farmers’ markets, farm stands, and grocery stores throughout the country.

How to Know When Corn Is Ripe

To determine the ripeness of corn, examine the plumpness of the kernels and their ability to release a milky liquid when punctured with a fingernail. Additionally, the kernels should extend to the tip of the ear, with each row tightly aligned.

When choosing corn, opt for ears with vibrant green and well-fitted husks accompanied by golden-brown silk. Avoid selecting ears with withered husks that appear burnt or have dark-colored slime.

5 Varieties of Sweet Corn

Corn exhibits a vibrant array of colors: yellow, white, yellow-white (bi-color), purple, blue, red, and multi-colored varieties.

When it comes to sweet corn, the type commonly found at farmers’ markets and grocery stores, there are several enticing options:

  • Silver Queen: It features creamy-textured white kernels.
  • Tuxedo: This variety boasts bright yellow kernels and a juicy, sweet flavor.
  • Temptation: Temptation showcases the tender texture of yellow and white (bi-color) kernels.
  • Honey and Cream: Known for its deep corn flavor, Honey and Cream presents bi-color kernels.
  • Ambrosia: Offering plump, bi-color kernels, Ambrosia stands out with its lovely flavor profile.

How to Store Corn

To ensure optimal freshness, store fresh corn in the refrigerator, preferably in a plastic bag with the husk intact, for a duration of one or two days.

For the most delightful flavor experience, consuming it on the same day of purchase is recommended. Once it is harvested, its natural sugars gradually convert to starch, diminishing its sweetness.

If you wish to preserve your farm-fresh corn, freezing or canning methods can be employed. For freezing, it is important to blanch it before placing the cobs or kernels into an airtight container and placing them in the freezer.

When stored in this manner, corn on the cob can be frozen for up to one year, while it’s kernels maintain their quality for two to three months. Canned corn is commonly preserved as whole kernels or creamed using a pressure canner.

How to Cut Corn Off the Cob

For a clean and efficient method of cutting the kernels off the cob, gather shucked ears of corn, a sharp knife, and two bowls.

  • Prepare your workspace: Position a medium bowl upside down within a giant bowl.
  • Remove the kernels: Rest one end of the cob on the medium bowl and, using a sharp knife, slice off the kernels in orderly strips. Doing so will make them neatly collect in the giant bowl instead of the kernels scattering across the countertop.

Alternatively, a slightly charred cake pan can hold the cob upright securely. With the cob in place, employ a sharp knife to cut the kernels off in consistent strips. The kernels will conveniently descend into the pan, containing any potential mess.

What to Cook with Corn

Corn on the cob is a delightful and straightforward method to savor the flavors of summer corn, whether you prefer grilling, boiling, or steaming it in the microwave.

However, there are many ways to incorporate its kernels into your cooking, such as adding them to salads, salsas, soups, sides, and other delectable dishes.


Elevate the flavours of your next picnic potluck, or complement your fajitas and tacos with the vibrant Black Bean Salad, featuring fresh corn kernels and cherry tomatoes.

For salads that epitomize the essence of summer, indulge in the Fresh Corn and Tomato Salad, adorned with mozzarella and basil, or savour the invigorating Summer Corn Salad, enhanced with green pepper, red onion, and a zesty lime twist.

Explore the Latin-inspired Charred Corn Panzanella or Grilled Steak with Greek Corn Salad, where it takes Centre stage.

Additionally, you can create a hearty seasonal salad by combining it with wholesome grains, like the Farro and Corn Salad or the Barley Salad with Corn and Zucchini. Let it shine in these delightful culinary creations.

Salsas and Dips

Indulge in the flavours of summer with the Almost Famous Corn Salsa or Corn Blender Salsa, both bursting with freshly cut corn kernels. These delightful salsas complement barbecued proteins or grilled fish perfectly.

For a simple and satisfying option, combine the kernels with canned beans and dress them with a garlic-lime-Chile dressing to create the Pinto Bean Salsa Salad. This versatile dish can be a chip dip or a standalone side.

If you’re looking for a unique twist, try the Creamed Corn Dip, which transforms a holiday casserole classic into a refreshing summer dip. Serve it with crisp veggies or baguette toast for a delightful snack. Let these recipes bring a burst of flavor to your summer gatherings.

Main Dishes

Embrace the flavors of summer with dishes that highlight the abundance of seasonal produce. Elevate your meals with the delightful sweetness of corn in recipes such as the Garlic Butter Shrimp and Corn Sheet Pan Dinner and the Corn-Chicken Skillet Dinner, both simple and perfect for repeat enjoyment.

Indulge in the Seared Scallops with Creamed Corn or the Pappardelle with Lobster and Corn for a special occasion or a treat-yourself moment. Fresh corn makes for delicious vegetarian main courses like this Corn-Mushroom Risotto (without bacon), Stuffed Poblanos with Roasted Corn or Tomato-Cauliflower Curry featuring corn.

Let the vibrant flavors of corn take Centre stage in these delectable dishes, adding a touch of summer to your dining experience.

Soups and Sides

Expand your repertoire of summer soups by incorporating the sweetness of it. Blend the flavors of summer with the Chilled Raw Corn Soup, where sweet corn takes Centre stage.

For a twist on a classic, add the kernels to the Chicken Corn Chili, creating a delightful and comforting dish.

If you prefer heartier fare, indulge in the Thai Corn Chowder or the Grilled Chowder, both bursting with flavor. Explore the versatile nature of it in delectable sides like Coconut Creamed Corn or Creamy Chili Lime Corn inspired by Mexican equities.

Elevate your next picnic or potluck with the creamy and flavorful Corn-Poblano Potato Salad featuring charred corn and peppers, or prepare a cookout-ready Corn and Tomato Pasta Salad.

Baked Goods

Take your savory baked goods to the next level by adding it. Indulge in the bold flavors of Spicy Cornbread with Fresh Corn, featuring the kick of pepper jack and chipotle.

For a comforting treat, savour the Corn-Bacon Spoon Bread with Tomatoes, a delightful combination of corn and bacon.

For a unique twist on traditional pies, experiment with Tomato and Corn Custard Pie, where sweet corn kernels complement the savoury tomato filling.

Alternatively, try the Collards and Corn Slab Pie, a delightful union of collards and cornbread encased in a buttery, flaky crust.

Complete your summer supper by serving it alongside a simple tomato side for a truly satisfying meal. Let it elevate your baked goods and bring a touch of summer to every bite.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What are the different types of corn?

  • There are several types of corn, including:
    • Sweet Corn: Commonly eaten as a vegetable, harvested when kernels are tender.
    • Field Corn: Used for livestock feed, processed foods, and industrial products.
    • Flint Corn: Hard-shelled, used in making cornmeal.
    • Dent Corn: Has a dent in each kernel and is used for animal feed and industrial products.

2. How is corn used?

  • Corn is used in various ways:
    • Food Products: Cornmeal, corn syrup, corn oil, tortillas, and snacks.
    • Animal Feed: A major component of livestock feed.
    • Industrial Uses: Ethanol production, biodegradable plastics, and other products.
    • Culinary Uses: Boiled, grilled, or roasted as a vegetable; also used in soups, salads, and casseroles.

3. What nutritional value does corn have?

  • Corn is rich in carbohydrates, providing a good source of energy. It also contains fiber, vitamins (such as B vitamins and vitamin C), and minerals like magnesium and phosphorus. However, it is low in protein and fat compared to other grains.

4. Is corn gluten-free?

  • Yes, corn is naturally gluten-free and can be consumed by people with celiac disease or gluten intolerance.

5. How should corn be stored?

  • Fresh corn should be stored in the refrigerator and used within a few days. Cornmeal and other dried corn products should be stored in a cool, dry place in airtight containers to prevent spoilage.

6. What is the difference between GMO and non-GMO corn?

  • GMO Corn: Genetically modified organisms (GMO) corn has been altered for certain traits, such as pest resistance or increased yield. It is widely used in agriculture.
  • Non-GMO Corn: Has not been genetically modified and is often preferred by those seeking natural or organic products.

7. Can corn be eaten raw?

  • Yes, sweet corn can be eaten raw, especially when the kernels are tender and juicy. It is often used in salads and salsas.

8. What are the health benefits of eating corn?

  • Corn provides several health benefits, including:
    • Digestive Health: High fiber content aids in digestion.
    • Energy Boost: High carbohydrate content provides a quick energy source.
    • Antioxidants: Contains antioxidants like lutein and zeaxanthin, which promote eye health.

9. Are there any concerns with eating corn?

  • Some concerns include:
    • High Glycemic Index: Corn can raise blood sugar levels, so it should be consumed in moderation by those with diabetes.
    • Allergies: Though rare, some individuals may be allergic to corn.
    • GMO Concerns: Some people prefer to avoid genetically modified corn due to potential health and environmental concerns.

10. How can corn be prepared?

  • Corn can be prepared in various ways, including:
    • Boiling: Ears of corn are boiled until tender.
    • Grilling: Ears of corn can be grilled for a smoky flavor.
    • Roasting: Corn can be roasted in the oven or over an open flame.
    • Popping: Popcorn kernels are heated until they pop.

11. Can corn be grown at home?

  • Yes, corn can be grown in a home garden. It requires a sunny location, well-drained soil, and adequate space for the plants to grow and pollinate properly.

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