Local Corn: How Sweet It Is

Enjoy summer's bounty fresh off the cob.

When I was growing up, sweet corn was as much a part of summer as swimming at the lake, playing kick the can until the street lights came on, or catching fireflies in glass jars.

Knee high by the fourth of July, we waited in anticipation for those first ears of the local good stuff – corn that was like a different vegetable entirely from the canned or frozen corn we’d eaten all winter. “Roastin’ ears” as my mother still calls them, fresh from the farm stand and picked that morning, were as sweet as honey. My dad could eat six ears in one sitting, followed by a plate of home-grown tomatoes and call it dinner. 

It was my sister's and my job to husk the corn, often alongside my grandmother, who told us stories about how she had made corn husk dolls when she was a little girl. She also told us about our father, who sold sweet corn barefoot from his little red wagon when he was a little boy spending summers on the farm with his grandparents  (her parents). OK, I think I’m dating myself…


Now, here it is August in Northbrook and the sweet corn is “ripe for the pickin."   carries locally grown corn from Didier Farms in Prairie View - Lincolnshire and also sells locally grown corn from their farm.  has several vendors who have been bringing fabulous fresh corn to the market every week.  My personal favorite is

the Mirai (which means ‘future’ in Japanese) sweet corn from Twin Garden Farms. This stuff is so sweet you can eat it raw! (And the vendor says not to boil it for more than two minutes).

One large ear of corn has about 123 calories and is a good source of Vitamin C, dietary fiber, magnesium, phosphorous and thiamin.  Look for plump ears with the husks still green and fresh looking.  The sugar in sweet corn starts converting to starch as soon as it is picked, so it's best to cook the corn as soon as possible after purchasing it.  Store it in the refrigerator in the husks until just before cooking.

There is much debate about how long to cook the corn: 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 5, 10?  I guess it boils down to (pun intended) how fresh the corn is.  The rule is: the fresher the corn, the shorter the cooking time.  I usually cook it 3 -4 minutes. Just don’t overcook it – seriously!

Eating it straight off the cob with just a little butter and salt and pepper is my favorite way to enjoy this delectable summer treat, but there are lots of other ways to eat it.  If you have leftover ears, this salad is a great, healthy way to use them.  InJoy!

Corn and Black Bean Salad

3 ears of corn, cooked (or about 1½ cups frozen corn, cooked and drained)

1 can of black beans, rinsed and drained

3 or 4 scallions, chopped

1 green pepper, chopped

1 jalapeno pepper, seeds removed, chopped

1 tomato, chopped

Fresh cilantro, about 2 tablespoons chopped

1 lime

2 tablespoons olive oil

Seal salt and black pepper

Cut the corn off the cob into a large bowl.  Add the black beans, peppers, scallions and tomatoes.  Squeeze the juice of the lime over the ingredients, drizzle with the olive oil and toss everything well. Add the chopped cilantro and sea salt and pepper to taste and toss once more.  Serve plain as a salad or over a bed of greens.  You can also serve this as a salsa with tortilla chips.

Melly Schwartz August 14, 2011 at 11:25 AM
I like the addition of the video....another Food Network star is born!
Linda Adams Barrett August 17, 2011 at 04:35 AM
Great video - Loved it.


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