What to CookCorn

Real (Fresh!) Baby Corn—Not in the Can

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Spotted: Very rare corn.

As someone who adores baby corn from the can, I’ve done my research: I know that those corn are indeed young versions of the big ones we might find at the grocery store. American farmers let theirs grow up to be big and strong because we're familiar with them, so we might be more likely to buy and cook with them. That's why fresh baby corn (also called cornlettes!) can’t really be found in the United States—some say the general public won't see them outside their own gardens.

Lies!! You can imagine my excitement when I found fresh baby corn at the Greene Hill Food Co-Op last night. They got the corn from Lancaster Farm Fresh, who got it from Eastbrook Produce in Smoketown, Pennsylvania. The little babes laid in a little wicker basket, 72 cents each. When I asked the cashier what people are doing with them, he said he was going to ask me the same thing: I was the first person to buy them. Rob from Lancaster Farm Fresh didn't have any recipes, either. He just said folks are pleasantly surprised to see them and that the farm they get them from are known for growing "really cute things" (including micro greens and squash blossoms).

I hemmed and hawed about what to do with my three babies. They're so small and so delicate, I wondered if cooking might just obliterate them. (Then again, frying never hurt a thing.) Or maybe they're just a novelty—it’s hard to resist cute produce and something we can call a cornlette.

More: Why Lindsay-Jean urges us to cook with offbeat produce, cornlettes included.

But then I took a bite of a raw cob (yes, the whole thing). It was gently sweet—like the flavor of sweet corn ice cream—with the sprightly bite of quinoa. If more prevalent, it might trump olives as my favorite fun salad topping. And shucking them isn't nearly as kitchen-consuming as shucking their grown-up counterparts is.

I'm dying to know: Have you ever seen fresh baby corn? And if so, what did you do with them?

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Tags: Summer, Long Reads, Farmers Markets, Sustainability, Ingredients