Corn, Sweet Corn

Corn is not just corn. It's a love of mine.

By Robin Stephens

Ears of sweet corn with pimento cheese butter

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Like I said before, corn is not just corn.

I love sweet corn. When summer hits, I’m on the lookout for the first road stand selling it. In my small town, I know where to look along First Ave. (the main thoroughfare through town) for my favorite farm stand. This year, one of the best things about working from home has been the ability to pick up corn on my lunch hour. In previous years, it’s always sold out by the time I would get back in town from work. Major bummer. Then I would have to wait for my fresh corn fix until Saturday.

Back in my early married days, we lived on an acreage and had a large garden. I used to raise sweet corn to sell for pin money. That’s when it sold for $1.00 a dozen. You can see it wasn’t a get rich quick kind of deal. But as a stay-at-home mom I thought I had a good thing going. My husband would plant the plot for me, I “strongly encouraged” the kids to help take care of it and pick the corn, then I sold it and kept the money. It was a good way to save for Christmas. I thought it was a win-win, but maybe don’t ask how my children felt about it. And we had plenty of sweet corn to enjoy fresh and plenty put up in the freezer to last all winter. Ahh..those were good times. We also grew popcorn, something my husband had done for 4-H. It was new to me, but it was fun. I enjoyed shucking the popcorn off the cob whenever we wanted to pop it.

Are popcorn and sweet corn the same?

Did you know popcorn and sweet corn are not the same? They’re actually different varieties. Popcorn makes up less than one percent of the amount of corn grown in the U.S.

Living on our acreage, we were surrounded by fields of corn. Field corn also shouldn’t be confused with sweet corn. Field corn is used make food products like cornmeal, corn chips, and corn syrup, but it’s primarily grown for animal feed. It stays in the fields until it’s dry because it’s easier to process that way. While you can eat field corn (before it’s dried out) I don’t recommend it. With its high starch content and low sugar content, no matter how much butter and salt you slather on it, there’s no comparison to sweet corn!

Ah, sweet corn. So many varieties to love. Ambrosia Hybrid, Honey Select, Peaches and Cream, Silver Queen Hybrid, Golden Bantam. These are just a few of my favorites. (Full disclosure: I once worked in a Feed and Seed Store. Oh, how fun that job was. The different variety of seeds was astounding!)


Put that corn to use in some tasty recipes

But when it comes right down to it, whether you grow your own corn, buy it at the farmers market, food stand, or local grocery store, it truly is a summer delight. There are so many ways to use corn — I like it in savory dishes. I love the combination of two of my favorites in this Corn and Shrimp Soup I love to grill corn, and this Grilled Corn Salad is an easy go-to recipe for me. It’s pretty and pretty tasty! And this Pickled Corn Relish with peach and red onion is a taste of summer in every bite! I love it and think you will too! I hope you’ll give it a try. And have you ever tried Sweet Corn Ice Cream? It is surprising delicious. The corn flavor is subtle but really nice. It’s a fun treat to make.

As you can tell, I have a long-standing love of sweet corn. I hope I’ve inspired you to try some new ways to use this versatile vegetable this summer.

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