Everything You Need to Know About Corn

July 23, 2014

Inspired by conversations on the Food52 Hotline, we're sharing tips and tricks that make navigating all of our kitchens easier and more fun.

Today: How to make the most of a short-lived summer staple: corn. 


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Corn is quintessential summer. It's easy to measure the passing of the short-but-sweet season during long drives down roads flanked by cornfields: The taller the stalks get, the fewer lazy days we have left. 

Here's the thing: When your seasonality window is small and time is running out, a sharpened toolkit of knowledge is essential. If you're not careful, corn will slip through your fingers -- and not just because it's covered in butter. Consider these tips and recipes your arsenal. 

How to Choose an Ear of Corn

  • First, choose your ears carefully. We all know the peek-and-see trick, but these tips will help you decide whether an ear is worthy of your kitchen, just by looking at it.
  • Get those husks off. Hint: The microwave is your secret weapon. 

Corn Silk

The Best Way to Cook Corn on the Cob

 Charred Corn Salad with Avocado, Lime, and TomatoDouble-Corn Corn Bread with Fresh Thyme Corn Pudding

How to Use a Whole Ear of Corn

What do you like to do with your summer corn? Tell us in the comments!

Join the Conversation

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • FreeRadicals
  • Georgie
  • Bonnie
  • Ellen Slack
    Ellen Slack
  • Jane Steinberg
    Jane Steinberg
I'm a former Food52 Julia Child Food Writing Fellow now studying law so I can make food fairer, more delicious, and more sustainable for everyone. I was born and raised in Montreal (mostly on poutine and matzoh ball soup), but in my heart I am an Italian grandma—I live on pizza and make a mean eggplant parmesan.


FreeRadicals August 19, 2014
I break off the stems and pull most of outer leaves, with about 3 or 4 layers left, microwave them for 3 min, turning once. Best and fastest corn-on-the-cob. Buy "Popcorn Salt", it's finely powdered regular salt. Only a dusting needed and popcorn salt will last for years because you'll use such a small amount.
Georgie August 19, 2014
Corn on the cob buttered and microved 2 minutes per cob is super
Bonnie August 13, 2014
What is GMO? Maybe some kid of genetic modification?
Ellen S. August 13, 2014
The corn in the photos looks so OLD--as in much too mature, kernels too large and tough--for decent eating on the cob. No self-respecting farmer I know (and I'm related to some longtime sweet-corn growers) would dare to sell ears like that.
Jane S. July 27, 2014
Corn on the cob is why the godssent us the microwave. Cut straight across the top and bottom ends, through husks and cob. Nuke one minute per ear, plus one for the pot. Test one. When done to suit you, just open up the ear. Slks and husks come away easily.
Also, if you are cutting kernels off the ear, don't do what shows in the above photo and leave the germ behind. Use a serving spoon and scrape out all that good stuff…it has the nutrition you want. The rest of the kernel is mostly starch and sugars.
Bob H. July 27, 2014
Corn OFF the Cob
This recipe is the result of playing around with leftover corn because we always buy more* than we need at the local Farmer’s market. The flavor is addictive and many times we just cook this variation instead of eating the corn on the cob. It is another dish that our children devour.

3 ears leftover cooked corn on the cob
½ large red pepper, diced
3 scallions chopped fine
Salt and pepper
Water, chicken stock or vegetable stock
1-2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons butter

Scrape the kernels off of the cobs. Add the corn, red pepper, onions salt and pepper to a saucepan and enough liquid to cover. Bring to a boil and cook slowly until the vegetables are soft and creamy and most of the liquid is dissolved. Add the butter and cumin to taste. This dish is an excellent accompaniment with any kind of pork or ham.

*It’s difficult to pass by a local farmer’s stand, remembering our life as Vermont apple and vegetable growers, when we got up at the crack of dawn to pick almost 1,000 ears a day for our country store.

Jane S. July 27, 2014
GMO - Concerned? You bet! II sign every petition forlabeling that comes around. The only way you can know about fresh corn is to ask the farmer, and your supermarket is probably not going to have a clue. BUT it's important to ask your produce manager at least so s/he wioll become aware of your concern.
Paula July 27, 2014
I don't think you can fine corn today that is not GMO. When I grew up in the 40's & 50's we ate field corn. There was no such thing as sweet corn, etc. I love field corn but you cant buy it to eat. Its fed to cattle and other animals. It is said it is not fit for humans. That is not true for my family lived off of it for years. Good luck on trying to fine corn that is not GMO. which is sad.
loubaby July 27, 2014
Is anyone concerned about GMO corn in this country?...just like with wheat-gluten?...I can't find organic corn on the cob much here ....hasn't corn been so modified?
Paula July 27, 2014
Yes, I am concerned, but what can we do? Greed, money controls everything. The Gov. gets paid to look the other way.
Pam July 24, 2014
so where's the recipe for the grilled corn on the cob that's shown in the FB photo?
Author Comment
Talia R. July 24, 2014
Here it is!