Fresh Local Corn–Enjoy While You Can

We all know that local corn-on-the-cob tastes the best. One of the reasons is that corn’s natural sugars change quickly after harvest causing the corn to lose its sweetness quickly. Corn is one of those great summer farm market treats.

When selecting sweet corn look for husks with good bright green color that are snug to the corn ear and the silk dark brown. Avoid silk with worms or decay. Select ears that are full of kernels. These kernels should be well developed and plump, tender and milky.  If they are too large or too dark they can be tough, chewy and pasty.

For best quality, store corn in the husks uncovered in the refrigerator. If you have corn without the husks, put them in a perforated plastic bag. Corn is best when eaten within two days. After removing the husks and silk, wash the corn in cool running water before eating, cooking or preserving.

Nutritionally corn is a good source of carbohydrates as well as small amounts of Vitamins A and C.  It is sodium-free and low in fat.  Depending upon the size, corn can yield 2/3 to 1 cup of corn per ear. One medium ear of corn contains about 90 calories. Corn provides folate and thiamin as well as fiber.  It can also be a source of zeaxanthin, an antioxidant that may protect against age-related eye disease, such as macular degeneration.

Even though corn is a starchy vegetable, it can still fit into a healthy balanced diet.  According the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans we should try to eat 2-2 1/2 cups of vegetables each day and this can include 5 cups of starchy vegetables a week. The key here again is balance and moderation and an occasional ear of corn-on-the cob when it’s fresh adds variety.

Instead of the traditional boiled and slathered with butter and salt corn-on-the-cob, try roasting on the grill with a little olive oil. I recently placed husked corn in a zip-top bag with a small amount of olive oil and added an herb blend. I turned the bag over several times to coat the ears with the oil and seasoning.   Then I took the cobs out of the bag and placed the cobs directly on a hot grill turning them several times until the kernels were slightly charred and golden. The flavor was great and there was no need to add extra salt or butter. Do be careful to watch the corn as it cooks, you don’t want it to overcook and dry out.

Judy’s favorite method for grilled corn is to start in the microwave and then finish on the grill at the same time the other items are cooking. That keeps it sweet and from getting tough and burnt. She cooks it in husks or in a covered dish for 2 minutes per ear. See her recipe below for corn salad using leftover cooked corn.

Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS
Professor Emeritus, The Ohio State University

Here is one of Food and Health Communication’s Favorite recipes for corn:

Fresh Corn Salad

Serves: 4 | Serving Size: 1 cup
Total Time: 15 min | Prep: 15 min | Cook: 0 min


6 cups dark green lettuce, preferably red leaf
2 ears of corn, shucked and cooked
1 large, ripe tomato
1/2 medium-sized, ripe avocado
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons flavored vinegar
Black pepper to taste


Cut the lettuce into bite-sized pieces and soak in a large amount of cold water; allow to stand so the dirt sinks to the bottom. Drain the lettuce well in a colander. Place the lettuce in a salad bowl.

Cut the corn off the cob and place on top of the lettuce. Core and dice the tomato and place on top of the salad. Cut the avocado in half, remove the pit and scoop out the flesh from the rind. Dice the avocado and place it on top of the salad.

Chill and cover the salad until ready to serve, up to 3 hours.

When ready to serve, drizzle oil and vinegar over the top and add black pepper to taste.

Serves 4. Each 1 cup serving: 148 calories, 8g fat, 1g saturated fat, 0gtrans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 18mg sodium, 20g carbohydrate, 4g fiber, 4gsugars, 4g protein.© Food and Health CommunicationsAnother article in the blog on Corn-on-the-Cob

Shucks with the husks

Shucks with the husks

IMGP0539I’ve been cooking corn-on-the-cob in my microwave for many years.  It’s fast and easy, especially for just one or two people. But once you start cooking more than a  few ears of corn, it takes less time to boil them on the stove or cook them on the grill.

 My way:  I remove the husks and silk from the corn and  then wash in fresh water. Place in a microwave safe dish, add  ¼ cup  water and cover with a tight lid or plastic wrap. Then I microwave on high about 3-5 minutes per ear. The time multiplies exponentially when you add more ears:  2 ears is 4-10 minutes and 4 ears 10-17 minutes.  Let stand 5 minutes after cooking. IMGP0377

A friend recently shared how to cook corn in the microwave with the husks left on.  Guess where she got this recipe?  You got it, on the web. I checked, there are many different websites that show this method.  She simply placed the corn in the microwave, husks and silk and all and microwaved 4 minutes per ear. She then cut the stem end off and pulled the husks straight off the cob, the silks came off it slick. It appeared to work great.

 Now, I hate to be a wet blanket (or maybe I should say “wet husk”)  about this, but I was immediately concerned with this method for four reasons:

1)      Most of the instructions on the web don’t mention washing the corn.  I wash all my produce.  Pesticides, dirt, mold, rotten spots and not to mention worms might be inside.  If I were using this method, I’d pull back the husks and rinse well with fresh water.  So, I admit, this requires removing the silk before cooking and eliminates one of the so called advantages of cooking with the silks and husks in place—easier peeling and cleaning. An alternative, when selecting corn, check for worms or worm damage in the silks.

2)      Damage to the microwave. All microwave oven instruction books caution you not to use the microwave without food inside.  It’s the water in the food that absorbs the microwaves and creates the heat, without water there is no cooking.  This method of cooking corn does not add any water so the only moisture is that in the corn itself.  With all the husks and cobs in the microwave, there are lots of dry materials inside the oven in comparison to the corn. With no place for microwaves to go, this could damage and shorten the life of or damage the magnetron in the microwave. Some instructions on the web suggested soaking the corn with husks before microwaving, t hat might help.  Be sure to select moist, fresh corn because it will be cooking in its own moisture (this is good to remember for all corn!).

3)      Fire in the oven. This relates back to #2 and is probably the biggest concern.  The fire risk goes up with the amount of corn being placed in the oven and the added cooking time for each ear. The cobs are dry and the husks are dry and they seemed to get drier during the cooking.  I noted a couple of comments by people on the web that tried this method and did have fires. If you’re going to try this, be sure to select corn that has fresh green husks, moist stem ends, check that the silk is free of decay and avoid yellowed or dried husks.

4)      Burns.  Use caution while husking the hot corn and watch the hot steam. My friend uses hot mitts.


I also checked with an Extension colleague and she says she doesn’t know of any research on the safety of this method. She also has a concern about fire.

I personally don’t have problems with shucking corn. I know I’m perhaps overly cautious, but  I think I’ll stick to a tried-and-true method. Shucks! 

Try our barbecued corn recipe.

Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS
Professor Emeritus, The Ohio State University