In Season: Corn

As an Illinois native, I consider myself somewhat of an authority on corn. I know what fresh sweet corn tastes like because we ate it almost every night — along with grilled burgers or steak and a salad of sliced tomatoes, red onion and Good Seasons Italian salad dressing — during corn season.

It was always the kids’ job to shuck the corn we brought home from the farm stand down the road. I spent many a summer afternoon sitting at the top of the driveway with a bowl on one side, a large pile of corn ears on the other and a paper grocery bag in my lap to catch the husks and silk.

But one thing I admit knowing nothing about is organic corn. Considering that I saw maybe one worm per summer during my entire youth, I’m willing to guess that the farmer we bought from was using pesticides. These days I always opt for organic, but an unfortunate consequence of this is a few more caterpillars in the corn.

The solution is simple: If you spot a worm when you start to peel away the husks, just cut off the top inch or so of the ear. Worms rarely travel farther down than this, so the rest of the ear should be fine.

Here are some other tips for selecting and cooking sweet corn:

● Look for fresh green husks and moist, supple silk. The stem end shouldn’t be dried out where the corn was cut from the stalk.

● Kernels should be plump but not too large.

● Corn rapidly loses its sweetness once it is harvested, so the sooner you can cook it, the better. As soon as you get home, place the corn in the refrigerator. If you can’t cook it within a few hours, the Ohio State University extension office recommends husking the ears and keeping them in a bowl of ice water in the fridge.

● Do not overcook corn on the cob or it will become tough. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the husked corn, cover and return to a boil. Turn off the heat and let corn sit in the hot water for 5 minutes. Serve with butter and salt (and sometimes pepper).

At local farmers markets

Arugula, beans, beets, blueberries, cabbage, carrots, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, field peas, figs, green beans, garlic, greens, herbs, lamb’s-quarters, okra, onions, peaches, peppers, potatoes, summer squash, Swiss chard, tomatoes, watermelon, zucchini

From farther afield

Looking good: Chilean apples, Virginia beans, Guatemalan blackberries, Georgia and California blueberries, California and Michigan cabbage, Georgia and Carolina cantaloupe, Washington cherries, California and Georgia corn, Georgia and North Carolina eggplant, California and South Carolina greens, Chilean kiwifruit, Florida okra, California oranges and peppers, South Carolina and Michigan summer squash, Arkansas and South Carolina tomatoes, Florida and Georgia watermelon

From local reports, the Packer


Corn, Tomato and Fresh Mozzarella Salad

Hands on: 10 minutes Total time: 20 minutes Serves: 6

So fresh and easy, this salad sings of summer. Choose the freshest corn you can find and keep it chilled until you’re ready to cook it.

2 ears corn, shucked

2 tomatoes, chopped (or 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes)

1/2 shallot, chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

Juice of 1/2 lime

2 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into bite-size pieces

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Bring a pot of water to boil. Add the corn, cover the pot and return to a boil. Turn off the heat and let rest for 5 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water. Cut kernels away from the cobs and place in a bowl. Add the tomatoes and shallot and stir gently to combine. Stir in the olive oil and lime juice. Gently stir in the mozzarella and basil; season to taste with salt and pepper.

Per serving: 106 calories (percent of calories from fat, 59), 3 grams protein, 8 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 7 grams fat (2 grams saturated), 8 milligrams cholesterol, 48 milligrams sodium.