How to buy the best sweet corn at the market

Jim Hillibish GateHouse News Service

Times change. Corn changes. But we’re still handling it as our grandmothers did, and that’s wrong.

Her old-time sweet corn was next to pig corn. It was tough, and it stuck between the teeth. She’d tame it by boiling it for a long time.

Modern corn is bred for tenderness, flavor and increased storage length. It has cut the boiling time to about three minutes (it’s done when the steam smells like corn).The steam eraImpatient cooks have eliminated the boiling entirely. Steaming is their favored technique:

1. Husk and cut ears in half.

2. Place in colander.

3. Place colander in a larger pot with an inch of water.

4. Cover and steam cook, about 10 minutes.


It always was a rush to get sweet corn to the table, as it was converting sugars to starch every second after picking. Not now. The new corn slows the process. Corn will last three days or longer after purchase with only slight flavor degradation.

The main problem now is dehydration. Keep your ears in a plastic food bag in the refrigerator with a few drips of water. Cut holes for ventilation. Remove husks only just before cooking.

Don’t transport corn in a hot trunk. Heat accelerates its natural starch process. Use an insulated bag, or transport in a cooler if traveling a longer distance.

Sweet corn seems to create a lot of waste — husks, cobs, silk. Not really. Your compost heap will love all of these.Jim Hillibish is a food writer for the Canton (Ohio) Repository. Reach him at