My dad, Wayne Archer, was a farmer and a longtime Pioneer seed corn salesman on the side.
That meant each spring when seed corn would roll into our driveway on a huge semi, we’d all help unload bags of corn. He’d give customers a much-coveted paring knife (with the Pioneer logo) and a small bag of sweet corn to plant.
Dad also made sure we had plenty of sweet corn to harvest. Putting the corn into the freezer for winter meals was a family affair — all hands on deck. Dad and my brother would gather and shuck the sweet corn at the perfect ripeness. Mom would blanch the corn over a hot stove and cut it off the cobs, and I would package. If we were lucky, we’d have a few friends or relatives help. Looking back, it was one of those family times I miss — along with the corn in my freezer.
Some wonder if sweet corn is a healthy vegetable because it’s considered a starchy vegetable. But let me assure you, it’s high in fiber, vitamins and minerals.
Surprisingly, it’s also a good probiotic, as it contains various good gut bacteria, which aids in digestion and promotes metabolism. It also contains antioxidants and vitamins A, B and C, which help to maintain healthy skin, vision and the mucosa, the membrane that lines various cavities in the body and covers the surfaces of many organs. Sweet corn also contains essential minerals like zine, magnesium, copper, iron and manganese.
If you’re diabetic or concerned about your blood sugar, don’t combine your starchy vegetables in a meal. If you have corn, skip the potatoes or peas. Starchy vegetables are higher on the glycemic index and should be eaten in moderation.
Crisp, sweet and delicious, fresh corn on (or off) the cob is a summer staple. When you can get corn freshly picked from a farmers market or roadside stand, it needs the barest amount of cooking. But it’s also great grilled, where the rich charring and smoke bring out the flavor.
What’s the best way to cook corn on the grill? You can remove the silks but keep the husks on and soak in cold water for 20 minutes; then place on a hot grill for 10 to 12 minutes. Or you can completely shuck the corn, brush with a little olive oil and place on a hot grill for 10 to 12 minutes. Wait until the last 3 minutes to brush with any seasonings like butter and herbs, barbecue sauce, or a spicy mustard and honey. My favorite way, if I’m short on time, is to shuck the corn, precook in the microwave for 5 to 6 minutes, then season and wrap in foil, and place on a hot grill while your meat cooks.
Once grilled, the corn can be eaten off the cob, or you can cut it off the cob and add it to a salad or salsa.
Charred Corn Salad
½ small onion, finely chopped
1 red chili or jalapeno, seeded and chopped
¼ cup fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
6 ears fresh corn, shucked
¾ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
4 ounces white cheese, such as feta, queso fresco, mozzarella or white cheddar, crumbled
Heat grill to medium. Toss together onion, chili or jalapeno, lime juice, and oil in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Grill corn, turning occasionally, until charred, 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool, then cut corn from cobs. Add to onion mixture and toss to combine. Fold in cilantro and crumbled cheese. Serves 6.
Barbecue-Glazed Grilled Corn
6 ears corn
¼ cup barbecue sauce
3 tablespoons finely chopped onion
¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper
Brush 6 husked ears with olive oil. Grill on medium-high until tender, about 20 minutes. In a small bowl, combine barbecue sauce, finely chopped onion, salt and pepper. During the last 3 minutes of grilling, baste corn with sauce. Serve immediately.
Fargo Ware is a registered dietitian with Southern Illinois University Medical School in Springfield. Send recipe ideas to her at [email protected]. The opinions of this writer are not necessarily those of Farm Progress/Informa.