Sweet Corn

History: Originally wild in Central America, Maize has flourished in the hands and souls of indigenous Americans for the last 8,000 years. From birth through death, the economic, social, and religious activities of many Native Americans were bound to the growing of maize. Maize was brought to Europe by Columbus, readily accepted, and from there dispersed to all parts of the world, becoming a staple in many countries. Corn now ranks in the top 4 principal food plants worldwide. The word corn means the principal grain of a region and was given to the grain, Maize, by American settlers.

Season: Mid-July through frost, usually late September.


  • A wonderful way to eat sweet corn is uncooked right on the cob. You will enjoy the exquisite taste of the natural sugars, and benefit from all the vitamins and minerals.
  • If corn is to be stored in the refrigerator do not remove husks until just before cooking.
  • To avoid toughness in cooking sweet corn do not add salt to boiling water.


Corn is a good source of complex carbohydrates and dietary fiber. It is relatively high in vegetable protein, and like most vegetables it is low in fat and sodium.

Sweet Corn, 1 medium ear, raw

Calories 75 Protein 4%
Protein 3 gm. Vitamin A 5%
Carbo 17 gm. Vitamin C 10%
Fat 1 gm. Thiamine 9%
Sodium 1 mg. Riboflavin 5%
Cholesterol 0 Niacin 9%
Fiber 4 gm. Calcium *
Iron 3%

To Boil Corn on the Cob

In a large kettle with a tight lid, bring enough water to cover corn generously to a rolling boil. Slip husked ears into the water one by one. Cover kettle and remove from heat. Allow corn to remain in the hot water for about 5 minutes or until tender. Drain. Serve at once.

To Steam Corn on the Cob

Remove husks and silk from fresh corn and place corn upright in large kettle with one inch of boiling water. Cover. Steam until corn is tender. 6-10 min., depending on maturity. Corn should turn from creamy yellow to a brilliant, transparent yellow.

Microwave corn on the cob

1 ear 3-4 min. 4 ears 7-10 min.
2 ears 5-6 min. 6 ears 10-12
Leave corn wrapped in husk. Cook on high (100%). Halfway through cooking turn corn over and rearrange. Let stand 2-3 minutes.
For a new seasoning try umiboshi paste.

“Corn is the only vegetable we eat that is entirely from seed. To eat corn is to eat life.” — Samuel Wilson, the Inquiring Gastronome, 1927

Grilled or roasted corn

Preheat oven to 400 or have a good bed of coals ready. Pull down husks and remove silk. Pull husk back up. Run into husk as much water as it will hold, or soak the ears in water for 15 min. Put ears on rack over hot coals or in preheated oven. Bake for 20 to 30 min. If cooking over hot coals turn cobs during cooking.

Or: Peel fresh roasting ears. Rub with butter/salt or olive oil/ umiboshi. Wrap in foil. Roast 20 to 30 minutes.

“Maize and people grew up together as children of earth and sky. You can look it in the eye. Its one on one.”

Corn Fritters (serves 4)

Grate: 2 1/2 cups fresh corn
Add: 1 well beaten egg yolk
2 tsp. flour
1/4 tsp. salt
Whip until stiff: 1 egg white
Fold egg white into corn mixture. Saute as pancakes. Do not overcook.

Why do Americans put their elbows on the table? It comes from eating corn on the cob.

Simple Summer Corn Dishes

For the following recipes remove the kernels from the cob with a sharp knife, then scrape the cob to capture the juices. 1 cob = 1/2 cup.

  • Saute sliced green onions, add snow peas and then fresh corn. Cover and cook until tender just the twinkling of an eye. Serve hot.
  • Cook cabbage in milk, add fresh corn and parsley. Cook 3 min.
  • Be creative Use fresh corn cut off the cob in most any dish you make. Raw in vegetable salads. Add to soups, chili, casseroles, potato salads, corn breads, and 3 bean salads.

Stewed Corn Medley (serves 6)

3 medium onions, sliced thin
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
3 tbsp. olive oil
2 green or red peppers, chopped
3 tomatoes, chopped
2 cups fresh cut corn
Cook onions, and garlic in oil 2-3 min. Add peppers and tomatoes. Simmer, covered, 10 min. Add corn, simmer 5 min. Salt and pepper.

Fresh Corn and Tomato Soup (serves 4)

1/2 onion,chopped
1 stalk celery
1 clove garlic
1 tbsp. oil
4 cups fresh cut corn
4 med. tomatoes, chopped
1/2 tsp. salt
Handful fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
Saute onion, celery, and garlic in a heavy pan until tender. Add corn, tomatoes, 1/2 cup water and salt to sauteed vegetables. Simmer, covered, about 1/2 hour. Puree all the soup. Stir in cilantro just before serving.

Why shouldn’t you tell secrets in a corn field?

Corn Chowder (serves 4-6)

1/2 cup onion, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1/2 cup potato, diced
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
1 cup fresh cut corn
2 cups milk or soy milk
Simmer 2 cups water, onion, celery, potato, and parsley until half cooked, about 10 min. Add corn. Simmer gently a few minutes, till tender. Add milk. Bring soup to a boil without actually boiling. Salt and pepper to taste.

American cooking is rooted in corn.

Frozen Sweet Corn, 5 dozen = 15 pints

1. Peak season, mid August thru Labor Day.
2. Husk corn. Cut bottom end of corn to be flat.
3. Steam in large kettle with 1 inch of boiling water on the bottom for 10 minutes, or until corn becomes bright yellow and transparent. To speed job have several kettles going at once.
4. Immediately put corn into ice water to cool quickly and prevent over cooking. Cool until center cob is cool.
5. Drain corn to remove excess water.
6. Cut corn from the cob. Purchase a corn cutter to make this job easy. Pound a long nail through a piece of wood, and stick the cob onto the nail, then it will cut without slipping.
7. Put into plastic bags and freeze.
Freezing on the Cob, When frozen corn on the cob is cooked it must be completely thawed before cooking or the kernels will be cooked to death by the time the cob is warm.
1. Follow steps 1 thru 5 for freezing corn.
2. Put into bags, seal, and freeze.

 Drying Sweet Corn

1. Follow steps 1 thru 6 as for freezing corn.
2. Dry in a food dehydrated, a very low oven, or on screens in the sun. When thoroughly dry, corn should be brittle, semitransparent, and glassy. Store in airtight container.
TO USE: Basic Recipe for Dried Sweet Corn
Combine corn with twice as much water in a saucepan, soak 2 hours. Cover, and simmer 30 min. or until tender. Season to taste. Flavor similar to frozen corn. This can be added to soups, stews, etc.

“People have tried and tried, but sex is not better than sweet corn”. — Garrison Keilor

The Project Gutenberg EBook of Indian Games and Dances with Native Songs
by Alice C. Fletcher

Sing a song of popcorn

When the snowstorms rage
Fifty little round men
Put into a cage.
Shake them till they laugh and leap
Crowding to the top;
Watch them burst their little coats
Pop!! Pop!! Pop!!

— Nancy Byrd Turner, “A Popcorn Song” 1988

Must Read Corn Books

The Story Of Corn, Betty Fussell

Like its subject, The Story of Corn is a unique hybrid, drawing upon history and mythology, science and art, anecdote and image, personal narrative and epic, to tell the extraordinary story of the grain that built the New World. Indeed, corn transformed the way the whole world eats, providing both a hardy, inexpensive alternative to rice or wheat and cheap fodder for livestock. And, with its mercurial genetic structure, it found its way into everything from explosives to embalming fluid. As Fussell writes, “Corn made the whole world kin.”

But the story of corn is essentially an American saga, entwining the histories–and often clashing worldviews–of the indigenous peoples who first cultivated the grain and the European conquerors who appropriated and then propagated it around the globe. With characteristic wit and passion, Fussell explores its roles as food and fetish, crop and commodity, to the peoples who for seven centuries have planted, consumed, worshiped, processed, and profited from it. If corn makes the whole world kin, in Fussell’s eloquent account it also reveals the inherent tragedy of our tribalism.