Fresh corn is a great source of thiamin (vitamin B1), folate, fiber, and vitamin C. This grain is at its peak freshness. It is best eaten within a day or two of harvest when it will be fresher and sweeter and contains better nutritional value.
Unless you have your own backyard garden, or are lucky enough to live on a farm, you will be at the mercy of your local grocery store or farmer’s market. Picking the best and freshest corn is not always an easy task. Let’s see what we need to look for…
In a grocery store, look for corn that’s stored in the cooled produce department. At a farmer’s market, ask the seller if they have any corn stored in a cooler. At the very least, choose corn from a shaded location, not from a bin that has been exposed to direct sunlight and heat all day. If possible, find out how far the corn had to travel. Sellers should be able to tell you where it was grown and when it was harvested, but in a grocery store, you’ll have to rely on visual cues to the corn’s age.
Ears of fresh corn should look like a fresh plant: with bright green husks and smooth, flowing corn silk. Avoid any ears that have brown, rotten-looking silk. The husks should be tight around the ear, not loose or flappy.
Open it up
Always peel back the leaves of the cornhusk before buying. You don’t have to husk the entire ear at the grocery store, but at least separate the leaves enough to get a glimpse of the corn inside.
There should be full, juicy, tightly-packed rows of kernels. If the tip of the corn cob looks like something out of “Tales from the Crypt,” put the ear down. If two or three ears in the same bin look similarly dried up and crusty, it may be time to look for another grocery store—or at least talk to the produce department manager and make them aware of the problem.
Corn is best eaten on the day of purchase. To keep it as fresh as possible during hot summer months, take a cooler packed with ice packs with you when you go shopping. As soon as you leave the grocery store or farmer’s market, put your corn and other perishable veggies in the cooler. Don’t store raw meat in the same cooler with vegetables you plan to eat raw.
Many people prefer to buy organically grown corn, but the higher price tag and more limited availability can limit this option for some. Even if the corn is organically grown, the same rules of freshness and appearance still apply.
What are some of your favorite corn infused recipes?
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