Corn the Vegetable

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Sweet corn epitomizes summer, and for many it encapsulates a sensual memory from childhood. Do you recall corn picked at its peak, cooked, and brought to the table in steaming heaps? Maybe you were wiggling in your seat from anticipation—or to keep your sunburned legs from sticking to the chair.

Was there a method to your butter application? Or did you eat it left to right like a Looney Tunes chicken with a typewriter bell at the end of the row?

As an adult, corn can be, well, so much more political. The corn that’s the “heavy” in controversial energy (ethanol) and food policies is Corn the Grain.

Delicious sweet corn eaten around the picnic table is Corn the Vegetable. The sweet corn plant is shorter than the grain variety and comes in yellow, white, or bi-color. It’s sweet enough to be eaten plain, but some can’t resist adding butter and salt.

Corn is a good source of several nutrients, including thiamin, folate, dietary fiber, vitamin C, phosphorus, and manganese. A cup of corn supplies 19% of the recommended daily dose of folate and about a quarter of the daily value for thiamin.

The important question is: how are you going to eat your corn? Left to right? Around the cob? Hunt and peck? The Queen of England may dine on corn on the cob with a knife and fork, but in the U.S. we pick it up and dig right in.


  • To cook, simply remove leaves and silk, and toss the cob into salted boiling water for 5 minutes.
  • Salt in the water hardens the kernels and facilitates easy removal from the cob.
  • Another method is to put corn in cold water and turn heat to high. When the water just boils, remove ears, drain, and enjoy.
  • Grilling techniques include putting the cob on the grill or putting the husk directly on the coals.
  • Corn even takes well to the microwave.

For best flavor and juiciest kernels, prepare corn as soon as possible after it's harvested! Otherwise, store in a closed brown paper bag in the crisper drawer of your fridge for up to a few days.

Heidi Lewis writes about farms, bees, and fruit from her home in Sonoma County, CA. She's been with The FruitGuys since they were FruitKids.


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