Sweet corn grows well in deep, rich, well-drained soil. For home gardens, large beds are best since several rows are recommended for proper wind-based pollination.
Soon after the threat of frost has passed, corn is sowed. The tall stalks reach maturity between 58 – 92 days, being “knee high by the fourth of July” and ready for harvest at five to seven feet tall in August and September. Each stalk produces only one or two ears of corn, seven to nine inches long.
There is a relatively short window of time for harvest; sweet corn’s sugar will convert to starch quickly, leaving a tough, chewy kernel. The moist, silken strands topping the corn husk will brown when the corn is ripe, and you should be able to feel individual, plump kernels when pressing gently on the husk. Another way to test for harvest is to peel back the husk slightly and break a kernel with your nail. The juice of a ripe ear of corn will be in its milky stage, while an unripe ear’s juice will appear watery. When choosing corn at your local farmers’ market, look for husks that are bright green and moist. A dry husk means the corn was not recently picked.
To harvest, grasp the ear near the base and bend it down sharply, being careful not to break the shank.
Fresh corn should be cooked and served the day it is picked or purchased. If not refrigerated, most varieties will begin to lose its flavor as the sugar converts to bland-tasting starch within 12 hours of being picked.
Fresh: Husk and clean corn of its silk. Place in a pot of boiling water. Add a teaspoon of sugar for each quart of water to replace any lost natural sugar it may have lost. Adding salt will toughen the kernels. Remove corn after water has returned to a boil.Nutrition
Frozen: Blanch corn in hot water for three to five minutes. Rinse corn with cold water and drain before storing in an airtight, freezer safe container.
Corn is found to be a good source of Vitamin A, B and C, as well as folate, phosphorus and potassium. Yellow sweet corn also offers a supply of lutein, which benefits vision and the cardiovascular system.
Did You Know?
- Domesticated corn’s history stretches back to Mexico in 7000 BC where the earliest traces have been found in the Rio Balsas Valley.
- Each tassel on a corn plant releases as many as 5 million grains of pollen, carried by the wind rather than insects
- The average ear of corn has 800 kernels, arranged in even rows.
- There is one piece of silk for each kernel.
- Corn is the third most important food crop of the world, measured by production volume, and an ingredient in more than 3,000 grocery products.
- Washington, Missouri, is known as the Corn Cob Pipe Capital of the World.
- The official grain of Wisconsin is corn.
- Nebraska is the Cornhusker State.
- Mitchell, South Dakota is the home of the world's only Corn Palace.