{Tips & Tricks} Cooking Corn on the Cob

Corn, to me, is the definition of summer. As I described in an earlier post, I grew up near a corn field and the farmer always delivered the sweetest tasting corn. I swear, I’ve never had anything like it.

Whenever I go to the grocery store, I almost always leave with a huge bag of corn. It’s such an easy go-to side to prepare and it tastes perfect during the summer. Corn on the cob, corn salads, corn salsa…you name it, I will more than likely gobble it up. There’s just something about this delicious vegetable that grabs my attention and doesn’t let go all summer long.

Corn on the cob with butter, salt and pepper is one of my favorite ways to enjoy corn during the warmer months. I love having the butter drip all over the place as I go to town on ear after ear of corn. Would you believe me if I said that I don’t eat corn in any particular way? I know there are the typewriters out there and the slicers who cut the kernels off with a knife (*gasp*)…oh, and I can’t forget about those who go around and around on it. I, however, attack the corn from all different angles. My whole life is organized…except the way I eat corn. It doesn’t make sense. It’s probably because I’m too busy inhaling it to concentrate on how it gets into my mouth. Who knows…

Anyway…there are many different ways to cook corn on the cob, but first you must be sure that you buy only the best look looking corn and prepare it properly to achieve delicious results.

Cooking Corn on the Cob

Buying

  • Ear: Make sure that the ear of corn feels full and plumb in your hand.
  • Silk: The silk sticking out of the top of the ear of corn should be golden, pale and slightly sticky.
  • Husks: When buying corn on the cob, make sure that the husks (outer covering) are bright green and fit tightly around the ear of corn.
  • Kernels: When at the store, feel free to peel back the husk to make sure that the corn looks good. The kernels should be in tight rows from end-to-end. There are many different types of corn and each has a very distinct flavor. At the store, you’ll most likely come across white corn, yellow corn or a mix of the two on a single ear of corn.
  • Juice: Once the kernels are visible, try piercing a kernel with a fingernail. The juice released from the kernel should be milky.
  • Stalk: If the stalk is brown, then the ear is most likely at least 2+ days old. As soon as corn is picked, it starts converting sugar to starch. Therefore, you want to buy it, cook it and eat it close to the same day, if not the exact day, that it is picked. The browner the stalk, the older the corn.

Storing:

  • Refrigerator: If you don’t plan on eating the corn the day you buy it, store the ears in the refrigerator with the husks still on to help slow down the sugar-to-starch transformation.

Preparing

  •  Husk: Peel the husk off the corn starting from the tip of the corn and work your way down to the stalk. Once the husk is removed, snap off the stalk.
  • Silk: The silk is the white, hairy threads under the husk. Either peel them away using your fingers or wet a paper towel and wipe the corn from end-to-end.

Cooking

  • Boiling Water: Even though this method takes a little while longer due to the time it takes to bring the water to a boil, this is definitely an easy way to prepare corn on the cob.
    1. Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil; do not add salt to the water once it has reached a boil. A trick that I learned from my aunt that has been passed down our family: Throw a few tablespoons of sugar into the water and bring the water to a boil. The sugar will bring out the sweetness of the corn.
    2. Place the ears of corn into the boiling water and cover the pot.
    3. Boil for 5-7 minutes or until done.
  • Grill: Corn can be grilled in the husk, out of the husk in aluminum foil or directly on the grill.
    • For corn grilled in the husk:  There are many methods out there but, in my opinion, the following two methods seem to work the best:
      1. Peel back the husks leaf by leaf (be sure to leave the husks attached to the stem) and carefully remove the silk. Coat the corn on the cob in butter and sprinkle seasonings of your choice over each ear of corn. Pull all of the husk leaves back up around the corn on the cob. Tie the tops of the husk on ear with kitchen wire/string. Place the corn on a hot grill and turn it every ten minutes or so until the husks become dry and turn into a tan/dark brown/black color. Peel the husks off of each ear and serve.
      2. Cut off the extra silk from the end of the corn. Submerge the corn in water for 15-20 minutes. Place the corn on a hot grill and cover. Leave on the grill until the husks turn into a tan/dark brown/black color. Remove the corn from the grill and remove the husks and silk and serve.
    • For corn grilled in aluminum foil: Although many wouldn’t consider this a true way of grilling corn on the cob, it is definitely an option:
      1. Prepare the corn by removing the husks and silk.
      2. Wrap each ear in aluminum foil and add butter, seasonings and a little bit of water into each package of corn.
      3. Place each ear on the grill and cook for 10 minutes or until done.
    • For corn grilled directly on the grill: There are couple of different ways to cook corn directly on the grill. The following are two ways that seem to do the trick:
      1. Husk the ears, boil in a large pot of water for 5-7 minutes and then transfer to the grill and rotate them just long enough to sear and add flavor.
      2. Prepare each ear of corn by removing the husk and silk. Brush olive oil all over each ear and place directly on the grill grate over high heat. Grill for about 10 minutes and rotate as needed to lightly blacken some of the kernels.
  • Microwave: This is one of the easiest and quickest ways to prepare corn on the cob:
    1. Place 2-3 ears of prepared corn on the cob in a microwave-safe dish.
    2. Add 2 tablespoons of water to the dish.
    3. Cover the dish with plastic wrap but leave a small opening to act as a vent to allow the steam to escape.
    4. Microwave on high for 4-6 minutes.
    5. Remove the dish from the microwave, uncover the corn and serve.

What is your favorite way to cook corn on the cob? Also, what types of seasonings do you use when preparing corn on the cob?

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Comments

  1. I bought some fresh corn at the Farmer's Market… looking forward to try it out and use some of your tips/ideas. Thanks for the great post :)

  2. i cut off the silky end, leave the husk on, and pop it in the microwave for about 2-3 minutes. let it cool for about 2 minutes, then peal off the husk, and enjoy! this is an easy way when you are only cooking for one, because you don't have to worry about boiling water. i will have to try your microwave method too! thanks for sharing such details about my favorite summer food!

  3. After microwaving a cob of corn, in the husk, I would NEVER let my corn near boiling water again. 2 ears, 5 minutes…. the best corn you’ve ever eaten.

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