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Enjoying Manitoba’s sweet corn season

There’s nothing quite like fresh locally grown corn on the cob

Do you remember a time when corn on the cob was only available for a limited time each year? When sweet corn had to be cooked just hours after being picked? When corn on the cob was served for breakfast, lunch and dinner for two weeks straight? I always loved corn season, but by the time it was over, I was ready to wait for another year before I saw another cob of corn!

Times have changed and sweet corn has changed right along with it. Today’s sugar-enhanced corn varieties mean corn can be stored much longer than it used to. Longer storage times means it can be shipped across continents and sold anywhere in the world without losing its sweet crisp flavour. And that means, we can now have corn on the cob any time of year.

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Despite year-round availability, my favourite is still freshly picked, Manitoba-grown sweet corn at the height of summer. To help you enjoy Manitoba’s sweet corn season, here are a few tips and tricks for choosing, storing and cooking corn.

Selection

Peeling back the husk, pricking the kernels and tossing it about are rookie moves and not very courteous to corn sellers. Instead, try these techniques for choosing tasty corn.

Choose cobs that are medium sized compared to others in the bin. Small cobs may be immature and big ones may be overripe — go for middle of the pack. Of the medium-size cobs, choose the ones that feel the heaviest.

Look for leaves that are tight to the cob and have nice green colour. To avoid wormy corn, check to ensure there are no tiny brown holes in the leaves near the top of the cob.

Feel the cob for uniform rows of kernels. If the cob feels irregular with gaps, not all the kernels will have filled out.

Look for silk (the tassel at the top) that is light brown and still green at the top of the cob. Silk that is very dark and dry from top to bottom is an indicator of old corn.

Storage

Store corn in its husk in a bag in the fridge. The cool temperature of the fridge will slow down the conversion of sugar to starch and keep your corn tasting sweet longer.

While those husking bins in the store are convenient, it really is best to keep the husk on the cob; it helps regulate moisture levels and protect your corn.

Even with today’s varieties and proper storing techniques, corn is best if eaten within five to seven days.

Preparation

Grill it, microwave it or boil it; they’re all great ways to cook corn.

Boiling

The classic way of preparing corn on the cob is to place freshly shucked cobs in a large pot of boiling water. But don’t cook too long! Today’s corn varieties require only four to six minutes for crisp juicy kernels, any longer and your corn will become soft and lose some of its sweetness. Also, avoid adding salt to the pot of water as it may cause kernels to become tough. Don’t worry, a pat of butter melting on your hot cob of corn will provide plenty of flavour.

Microwave

If you’re just making a cob or two, microwaving corn is the quickest and easiest method. Simply trim back the silk and remove loose outer leaves. Microwave on high power for three to five minutes. Peel back the leaves and check for uniform cooking throughout, add more time if needed. Be careful, the cobs and steam coming off them will be very hot.

Grilling

Last summer my family experimented with grilling corn in several ways – direct grilling without the husk, wrapped in foil, husk on soaked in water and husk on not soaked. They all worked, but our two favourite methods are described below.


Direct grilled corn – no husk

For a truly unique flavour, try grilling shucked corn cobs directly on the grill (see photo at top). You’ll get lightly charred corn kernels that are slightly dry with a nutty flavour. For anyone looking for something different, it’s worth a try.

  1. Preheat barbecue to medium-high heat about 180 C or 350 F.
  2. Remove husks and silk.
  3. Place cobs on grill for 10 minutes rotating frequently.

Grilled corn in the husk – no soaking

Super easy to prepare, corn grilled in the husk is juicy, sweet and delicious. The taste and texture is similar to boiled corn. While the outside of the husk chars, the inside gets hot and steamy with only a few grill marks where the husk is thinnest. This method can also be used over the hot coals of a campfire.

  1. Preheat barbecue to medium-high heat about 180 C or 350 F.
  2. Trim back silk and any loose leaves.
  3. Place cobs on grill for 15 to 18 minutes rotating frequently. Husk will char but inside will not.
  4. Remove charred husk outside as this part can be a little messy.

A quick and easy way to grill corn is with the husk on.
photo: Getty Stewart

Corn salsa

If you have leftover cobs of corn, strip the corn kernels and try this corn salsa.

Ingredients

  • 2 c. corn niblets (removed from leftover cobs, frozen or canned)
  • 3 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 2 tbsp. diced red onions
  • 1/4 c. chopped cilantro or parsley
  • 1 tbsp. lime juice
  • 1 tbsp. canola oil
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. hot sauce (more or less as you like)

Instructions

In a medium-size bowl, toss corn, tomatoes, onions and cilantro or parsley.

In a small jar with a lid combine lime juice, oil, cumin, salt, pepper and hot sauce. Shake vigorously to mix well.

Pour dressing over corn mix.Serve with tortilla chips or as a side dish.

Makes: 3 cups.

Recipe source: www.gettystewart.com

Enjoy leftover corn in this tasty corn salsa.

About the author

Contributor

Getty Stewart is a professional home economist, speaker and writer from Winnipeg. For more recipes, preserves and kitchen tips, visit www.gettystewart.com.

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