The sweet crunch of fresh corn is truly a seasonal event. Since corn's sweetness quickly and steadily turns to bland starchiness every minute it's off the stalk, freshly picked locally grown corn is the best bet for great corn flavor. Find delicious new ways for preparing ears of corn (or tips for making the most of your old favorites) below.
How to Boil Corn
A simple boiled ear of corn is a delight of summer. Bring a pot of water to a boil (check that the pot is big enough to hold all the ears of corn). Add shucked ears of corn, cover, and turn off the heat. Let sit at least a minute, at which point the raw corn will be warm. After two minutes the corn will be hot and starting to get tender. After four minutes you'll have more fully cooked corn on the cob. Since the heat is off, you can let the corn sit longer if the timing of other dishes requires it in order to serve the corn piping hot.
Note: Do not salt the water; it will toughen the corn.
Lift corn out of the water and set on a clean kitchen towel to drain. Serve immediately with butter, salt, and pepper for people to add to taste.
How to Steam Corn
Many people prefer to crisper texture corn maintains when steamed instead of boiled. In a large pot bring about an inch of water to a boil. Set a steamer in or a plate on top of an upside-down bowl that leave at least an inch open around the edges in the pot. Set shucked ears of corn in the steamer or on the bowl, cover, and cook until corn is hot and as tender as you like it, about 3 minutes for very crisp and 5 minutes for more tender ears.
Serve immediately with plenty of butter, salt, and pepper. A spritz of lime juice or a sprinkle of chili powder can also be delicious.
Grilling adds a great charred edge to the sweetness of corn on the cob. You can grill corn in the husk – as long as you open it up first and pull out the corn silk – but you end up with something more like corn steamed inside the husk, which is also delicious. I prefer to shuck the corn, brush it with melted butter, and set it on a medium hot grill (you can hold your hand about an inch above the cooking grate for 3 to 4 seconds) until charred and tender, about 15 minutes.
Once grilled, you can eat it plain, slathered with butter, spritzed with lime juice, or cut from theand tossed into this spicy grilled corn salad.
Raw corn, as long as the kernels come from freshly picked ears and are sweet and tender, is delicious. First, cut the kernels from the cob, then toss them with other fresh summer produce (tomatoes and basil, pictured here, are particularly delicious) for an easy, sweet, crunchy salad.
Like so many vegetable soups, there are two main options: smooth (like this Sweet Corn Soup, pictured) or chunky (like this Corn Chowder). In either case, you'll need to cut the kernels off the cobs. Add to the corn flavor of any corn soup by then making corn broth (boil the stripped corn cobs in water with a bit of salt; you can add onion, garlic, or herbs, if you like, for more flavor; simmer for 30 minutes to an hour; let sit to coll and strain) and using that as the liquid for the soup.
Add Corn to Baked Goods
Corn kernels add crunch and sweetness (not to mention a bit of nutty flavor) to doughs and batters of all kinds. Cutting the kernels from the cobs is, obviously, the first step. Then you can add the kernels to Corn Fritters (pictured) or Corn Souffle. Or, whirl those kernels in a blender or food processor to add moisture to the mix and even more sweetness, as in this Corn Cake or these amazingly light Corn Pancakes.