Fresh Corn Basics and Six Delicious Recipes
Although corn is readily available year-round, there's nothing like the flavor of fresh summer corn. Versatile and easy to prepare fresh corn can be grilled in the husks, steamed in a clam bake, roasted, boiled or de-kerneled and used raw for delicious salsas and salads.
Choosing the best ears of corn is relatively simple: select those with the most vivid color, the fewest blemishes and the smoothest kernels (no wrinkly, dull or dry kernels).
Fresh corn is always best when used the day it's picked, but that sort of farm stand freshness isn't always an option.
If you buy your corn in the husks, you'll want to remove them and wrap the ears in plastic or place them in plastic bags, or if you buy corn packaged in trays, you can leave it as is. Either way, you want to refrigerate your corn as soon as you get home from the store. If you do, your corn will stay relatively fresh and sweet for up to four days.
Basic Prep Methods
The easiest way to shuck and de-kernel your fresh corn is to start by holding the ear with the stem end facing down. Pull the husk and silks downward and remove, then remove any remaining silks by wrapping the ear in a damp paper towel and twisting it back and forth.
Next, cut off about 1/2-inch from the tip so you can stand the cob on its end. Place it on a shallow plate and use a sharp knife to slice the kernels off the cob using slow, sawing motions. We find a sharp serrated knife works well for this.
If you plan to grill your corn, you may want to do so while it's still in the husk so you retain as much of the corn's moisture as possible. Or, if you're looking for great-looking grill marks, place husked ears corn over medium-high flame for about 5 minutes, turning several times during cooking.
You can also microwave corn on the cob. For four ears of corn, melt about two to three tablespoons of butter in a shallow microwave-safe dish. Once you've removed the husks, place the ears of corn in the dish, coating them in the melted butter.
Cover the dish with microwave-safe wrap and cook on high for six to eight minutes, depending on your microwave's wattage. You'll know the corn is done when the kernels yield slightly to firm pressure. This quick, easy method yields deliciously moist, sweet corn with very little fuss.
Many people wrongly assume that corn doesn't have much nutritional value because it isn't a green vegetable, but it is in fact a good source of antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin. Corn is also low in fat, has no cholesterol or saturated fat, and one medium ear of corn has only 75 calories.
Six of Our Favorite Corn Recipes
- Sauteed Sweet Corn with Tomatoes and Tarragon: Fresh sweet corn and grape or cherry tomatoes pair well in this delicious and colorful side dish.
- Six Easy Steps for Delicious Grilled Corn (from ZEST Digital Mag): A few tips for grilling corn on the cob from a summer issue of our digital magazine.
- Summer Succotash: A traditional Southern-style succotash made with sweet corn, lima beans and red bell pepper.
- Tomatillo And Corn Stuffed Poblano Peppers: The rich chile flavor of poblano peppers complements the tomatillo, corn and tomato filling in this colorful southwest-style side dish.
- Sweet Corn, Bacon and Tomato Chowder: Fresh sweet corn, smoky bacon and tomatoes are the main ingredients in this delicious, easy-to-make summer chowder.
- Chicken, Poblano and Corn Quesadillas: A satisfying quesadilla filled with chicken, sauteed corn and poblano peppers, cilantro and Monterey Jack cheese.