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At the height of summer, Indiana sweet corn is at its all-time best

Indiana sweet corn is at the height of its growing season now. Sweet corn may be yellow, white or bicolor. It can be picked as full-sized ears or baby corn, which are eaten in their entirety.

When sweet corn is picked, the sugar it contains begins rapidly converting to starch, so it is advisable to cook corn as soon as possible after picking or purchasing.

Choose ears that feel full and heavy. Kernels should be relatively small and milky when pierced, and silk should be moist without any sign of drying or decay.

Try to keep fresh corn in the refrigerator in a plastic bag and prepare as soon as possible. The corn will keep a fresh flavor if you do not remove husk and silk until ready to prepare. These natural wrappers will help keep the corn from drying out when exposed to the cold air of the refrigerator.

Leftover frozen or canned corn may be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days.

Fresh sweet corn on the cob is best steamed, boiled, oven-roasted, grilled or microwaved. Fresh corn kernels can be used in soups, salads, vegetable sautés, fritters, relishes, puddings or soufflés.

When preparing, remove the husk and silk from fresh corn if steaming, boiling or microwaving. To oven-roast or grill, peel back the husk but leave it attached. Remove silk and replace husk, tying it shut at the tip with string. Soak in cold water for 30 minutes to moisten husk, then roast or grill. Alternatively, remove husk and silk, wrap ears in foil with butter, and roast or grill.

When freezing sweet corn for later, there is a lot of discussion about whether it’s best to blanch corn before you cut it off the cob or to cut it off first and then heat it. Either way, the corn has to be blanched or heated and then get very cold before you freeze it. This stops the enzyme growth that allows the kernels to mature.

I prefer to blanch the corn and then place the ears in very cold water. Then, I cut it from the cob and place the cut corn in freezer bags or containers and freeze. From my experience, this makes the least amount of mess and the corn has the most flavor.

For more tips on saving Indiana sweet corn for later, go online to see the Purdue Extension publication, “Let’s Preserve Sweet Corn.”

For more recipes and tips from Purdue Extension Educator Mary Ann Lienhart-Cross, subscribe to the Food & Nutrition email newsletter.

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