Now, I don't want to get too corny here, but I have some a-maize-ing facts to share. I hope you’re all ears, because these kernels of trivia are worth knowing. (That’s not necessarily true, I was just so corn-centrated on getting my puns out there right away.)
I’ll give you one guess at what vegetable I plan to feature today.
I wrote about Corn Day last year; however, I focused more on the communal experience of seasonal celebration than I did on corn itself, so I feel another article is warranted. Plus, everyone loves sweet corn, and I mean everyone.
Even classic vegetable-scorners go for a plate piled high with corn on the cob. Meat-and-potatoes eaters naturally assimilate corn into the list of acceptable edibles, and I think it’s safe to say every single church potluck of my life has included at least one crockpot of quickly-depleted buttery sweet corn.
As per usual, we have to start off by clarifying what it is we’re actually talking about here. My world keeps getting rocked by all these veggies that aren’t veggies, so I’m starting to expect it. Sweet corn is, of course, not a vegetable--it’s a grass. Each kernel is a seed, while the entire ear is the plant’s flower.
Now that’s my kind of bouquet. You can tell my husband: I’ll take a dozen daisies and corn for Valentine’s Day, please.
While I haven’t counted personally, and I question the time management of those who have, it seems that each ear of corn has on average 16 rows of 800 total kernels. There will always be an even number of rows of kernels, and when you’re buying or harvesting ears, make sure those kernels are delightfully plump and shiny.
Also maybe make sure you’re picking sweet corn. While external appearances may be similar, field corn has a distinctly different taste and texture. It’s called cow corn for a reason.
Of course I’ve tried it. If I’m traipsing around the fields with Brian after harvest, I glean a broken half-ear of corn to flick kernels off of, and usually pop a few in my mouth--to chew on for the next seven hours. That’s why I’m encouraging you to stick to the intentionally selected strains of corn that we eat like a vegetable, the low-starch, high-sugar kinds.
To keep those sugars from converting into starches in storage, try to cook your sweet corn shortly after harvesting, and keep it chilled in the meantime. Everyone has their own way of cooking corn on the cob, boiling or grilling or blanching, and I’ll eat it no matter how it’s prepared. I’ve recently been discovering the joys of steaming it: to that perfect medium texture of having just turned slightly deeper yellow, but still lusciously milky and tender.
Oh corn, corn, corn. I could sing your praises all year round. You’re totally worth the toothpicks I have to go through afterward.
Amanda Miller writes a column about local foods for The Hutchinson News. She teaches classes at Apron Strings and makes cheese on her family’s dairy farm near Pleasantview. Reach her at email@example.com