Saturday, July 19, 2014

Kitchen Intuition: The best sweet corn of the season

When I was a kid, my grandfather had a huge backyard garden where he grew all sorts of food. At one time, there had been a whole farm with his house at the center, but over the years, parcels of the property were sold, until all that was left was the house, the barn and that great big garden. The biggest portion of the plot was given over to growing corn, and when it was in season, meals were an event for me. We’d walk out to the garden together and find ears that were ready to be picked. He’d look at the tassels and maybe tug the husk back a little, pressing a kernel with his fingernail to see if it was swollen with milky flavor. We’d wait to pick it until just before cooking (my grandmother would already have a pot of water ready on the stove), and it always came out crisp and moist and ever so sweet. We’d sit at the kitchen table together while he cut his corn off the cob (he had dentures) and I ate mine typewriter-style.

As is often the case, when it comes to corn, the old ways are still the best. Whether you boil, steam, roast or grill it, cooking your corn as quickly as possible after it’s been picked ensures that it will be at its sweetest. As soon as corn has been pulled off the stalk, the sugars start to convert to starch; so the sooner you get to eat it, the sweeter it will be.

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