Sweet corn ear

Sweet corn season generally runs from early July until late August in most areas.

In a year where travel is limited and social events have been canceled, one thing people can enjoy is the taste of delicious seasonal treats from the garden. One of those topping the list for many people is sweet corn.

“We love sweet corn at our house,” says Justine Hoover, an extension program specialist at Iowa State University.

The sweet corn season, which generally runs from early July till late August, is a time for celebration in some areas. A number of towns hold sweet corn festivals or sponsor sweet corn feeds. And while many of those events may be canceled this summer, the sweet corn itself is still here.

“The good news is that it’s a pretty easy vegetable to cook,” Hoover says.

The hard part is getting the husk off and getting it rinsed and cleaned. Once that is done there are a variety of ways to cook the corn and serve a tasty corn-on-the-cob treat. It can be boiled or prepared in a micro-wave oven, Hoover says. And once out it can be seasoned in a variety of ways. Many people prefer it with nothing more than a little butter and perhaps some pepper. Others use all kinds of spices.

And the fresh corn can be substituted for canned or frozen corn in any number of recipes, Hoover says.

It is important that people wash the corn before cooking, Hoover says. Like any garden product it can contain dirt or bugs.

If boiling the corn, there are several approaches. Iowa State extension says to bring a pot of water to a boil and then carefully drop in the corn and boil for 5-6 minutes. Microwaving corn is also an option. And the corn can also be grilled. In that case, pull the husk back and remove the silk but do not pull the husk off the cob. Instead, bundle it up in its husk again and soak it in cool water for 15 minutes. Then placed the soaked corn on the grill for 15 minutes, turning frequently. Remove the charred husk and season with garlic powder, chili powder, cumin or oregano.

To get the best flavor from sweet corn, it should be eaten as soon as possible after harvesting because the sugars start converting to starches as soon as the corn is picked.

Corn can also be stored. If the husk has been removed, refrigerate in tightly wrapped plastic for one to two days. If the husk is left on it can be stored uncovered in the refrigerator for one to two days.

Corn that has been blanched and cut off the cob can be frozen for 6 months to a year.

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Gene Lucht is public affairs editor for Iowa Farmer Today, Missouri Farmer Today and Illinois Farmer Today.