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Chatelaine Kitchen

5 things you didn’t know about corn on the cob

When you're out buying this freshly harvested summer favourite, here are a few things to remember.
By Louisa Clements
Corn on the cob Photo, Sian Richards.

A quintessential summer ingredient, corn is sweet, juicy and can be used in a wide variety of ways. Native to the Americas, corn has been cultivated for thousands of years and has become a favourite ingredient for many classic summer dishes like corn fritters, corn chowder and just plain old, corn on the cob with a pat of butter. Peaking during late summer, you’ll find that corn is the perfect compliment for other in-season produce like tomatoes, basil and zucchini.

Looking to learn more about corn? Here are five things you may not know:

1. Corn is technically classified as a grain (its botanical relatives include barley, spelt and rye). But when it’s fresh, it's treated as a vegetable. Like most vegetables it can be enjoyed in salads, baked, boiled, grilled, roasted and sautéed.

Shortcut: To cook a single cob, microwave it (while still in its husk) on medium-high for three minutes.

Kitchen tip: When boiling corn, save the flavoured water for soups or corn chowder — also be sure save the cobs for adding a hint of extra flavour when making stock.

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2. Corn can be found in many varieties. They range in colour and flavour — from white to yellow, red, purple and multi-coloured. Sweet corn — the type you'll typically find  in stores and markets from mid-July to September — is usually white, yellow or a blend of the two.

3. Tightly closed, bright green husks help to lock in the moisture, keeping corn fresh. When buying, look for cobs with moist, yellow or brown silks that are slightly sticky to the touch. When you pull back the husks the kernels should be plump and in tight rows.

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4. The freshest corn will be the sweetest. The sugars start to turn into starches the minute it's picked. This process means that corn will lose its flavour and become tough and chewy if left too long in the fridge.

5. You can freeze your corn to savour the summer flavour year-round. To freeze, simply boil the kernels for one minute, pat dry and transfer to a baking sheet (this stops kernels from clumping together). Freeze in a single layer, then transfer to freezer bags.

Did you know? Corn is Canada’s third most valuable crop (after carrots and tomatoes).

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