Archives for posts with tag: sweet corn

Some crops are best left to the professionals. I’m talking about sweet corn. A few of our gardening neighbors are trying to grow sweet corn, and the ears are just filling out now. I’m pretty sure the raccoons are watching these few dozen precious stalks of sweet corn just as anxiously as the gardeners.

Growing up on a farm, sweet corn was a plentiful and wonderful treat of summer. My mother would boil up dozens of ears to satisfy her brood of six hungry kids. We would sit at the picnic table and slather butter on the corn, dripping butter and milky corn juice down our arms as we ate. The big debate was whether you ate rows across horizontally (like a typewriter), or ate a row around the cob.

When I moved to the East Coast, I discovered Silver Queen corn, with its sweet tender white kernels. This corn rules the loamy soil of the DelMarVa peninsula, and is widely available in the summer months. Every summer when our boys were growing up, we would go to Rehoboth Beach to soak up the sand and surf. On the trip home, sunburned and tired, we would stop by one of the dozens of roadside stands and load up with fresh fruits, vegetables – and sweet corn.

sweet corn

sweet corn

The development of sweet corn is attributed to the Iroquois Indians in the late 1700s. Over the years, horticulturalists have bred yellow, white and even bicolored sweet corn. Silver Queen was the early name for the iconic white corn. But over the years, it has given way to even sweeter varietals. But at the roadside stands, white corn is still uniformly called Silver Queen, whether it actually is or not.

I’ve tried many recipes for corn — grilled in the husk on the grill (time intensive), grilled, smeared with mayo and bbq spices (must be a southern thing), sprinkled with Old Bay seasoning (a Maryland thing) or microwaved (shudder). I’m a traditionalist for this veg.

Here’s the perfect recipe for corn:

Buy sweet corn  only if you plan to eat it that day. If you’re lucky, it came out of the field before dawn that day, so it will be at its peak tenderness. The longer corn is out of the field, the tougher the corn kernels become. Put a big pot of water on the stove to boil, adding 1 teaspoon of sugar and 1 teaspoon of salt. When it’s simmering, add your shucked ears, cook for 8-10 minutes and remove to a platter. Serve steaming hot with plenty of butter. And napkins.

Sandy Johnson is a journalist and a gardener, equally passionate about both. She lives in Alexandria, VA.  Visit her on her blog, Grassroots & Gardening.


CRR looked up from the grocery ads and said these fateful words, “(Big grocery conglomerate) has sweet corn, 10 ears for $2.” He had my attention at “sweet corn,” and the amazing price sent me straight to the store.

I know it’s not local, duh, it was trucked here from Florida, violating every locavore rule. But even this liberal arts major can do simple math. Twenty cents for a little taste of heaven?

Sweet corn is one of those foods that takes me back home. My father had acres of sweet corn, harvested in August (!) and savored with butter, salt and pepper at the picnic table, so we could let the juices drip down our chins and forearms with abandon.

As our children grew up, annual vacations to Rehoboth Beach were capped with a stop at one of the scores of farm stands that sold picked-that-day produce, including the amazing Silver Queen corn.  The loamy Delmarva soil was perfect for corn and melons, and we feasted when we arrived home, hot, sunburned and hungry.

Sweet corn

A few optimists have tried to grow sweet corn in our community garden, but it’s a  fool’s errand: too few stalks, a handful of ears, often eaten by the raccoons before they were ripe.

So let’s leave sweet corn to the real farmers. I’ll buy the local corn when it’s in season, and pay a few extra cents an ear for it, gladly, for their effort.

Everyone has their own recipe. We have friends who grill their corn – in the husk, or in tin foil. Some season their corn with Old Bay, or chili pepper. I favor my mother’s simple recipe. Fill a large pot with water, add 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of sugar, bring to a boil. Add the corn, simmer for 10 minutes. Barely season with butter, salt and pepper, and sink your teeth in.

Sandy Johnson is a journalist and a gardener, equally passionate about both. She lives in Alexandria, VA.  Visit her on her blog, Grassroots & Gardening.