Skelly Sweet Corn
In 1989, we planted four rows of sweet corn around our house so our family could enjoy fresh sweet corn, and we sold the extra corn. We now grow over 70 acres (1 acre is about the size of a football field) of fresh, homegrown sweet corn. But just because the quantity has increased does not mean the quality has decreased. All of our corn is still hand picked fresh every morning.
The problem with sweet corn is that as soon as it is picked, the sugars and flavor inside the corn begins to break down. This is why southern grown corn does not have the same taste. Since the corn is not as fresh it has already lost some flavor.
Varieties of corn that are typically shipped in from other parts of the country are known as "Super Sweets." This name is a deceiving name given to corn to make is sound better than it really is. Super Sweets are developed to last a long time on the shelf without losing as much flavor. However, this usually causes the corn to have less original flavor and creates a tougher kernel of corn. While our corn is extremely sweet and tasty, it is not of the Super Sweet family. We instead grow a kind of corn called "Sugar Enhanced." Because this corn does not need a shelf life of a number of days, this corn tends to have more flavor than corn in the Super Sweet family.
Finally, do not be fooled by the color of the corn. Both the yellow and the yellow and white varieties can be Super Sweet or Sugar Enhanced. Taste is dependent on the type of corn and how fresh it is, not the color.
About our Varieties
So what is all this talk about varieties of corn, and how does it affect my sweet corn? As consumers we are not very familiar with varieties when we talk about corn, but let's think of a crop where you might know a few different names: apples. If you have heard of MacIntosh, Gala, or Honeycrisp, you have heard the names of different varieties or breeds of apples. All of these apples have different characteristics such as size, flavor, hard or soft, and color.
When it comes to sweet corn, there are hundreds of specifically named varieties, but chances are you have never heard of any of them. As varieties constantly are changing and improving, the names change and tastier and better corn is bred all the time. At Skelly's we plant small test plots of more than 30 varieties every year to taste test before we ever plant a corn that will eventually be shared with you. Flavor is always our number one factor to look for.
We strive to have corn as early as possible in the season. Some varieties of corn are really good at growing fast and having corn early. These varieties usually have a smaller ear because they grow so fast to have corn by early or mid July that the ear does not have time to grow to be huge. Early season corn is still tasty, but it is just a little smaller. About three weeks into our season our late variety of corn begins to be ready which has the largest ear and the best flavor of the season because it has had lots of time to grow and mature. If you are looking to freeze corn this is the best type to use because you will yield more corn with the bigger ears. Even though this type lasts for the rest of the season, it was planted every 3 days all spring so it is at peak ripeness every day.
Remember: we grow sweet corn, not field corn, and we grow for flavor. The corn you find in the grocery store has been bred to look like gigantic ears, but it doesn't really taste that good when you compare it to our corn. We select varieties that do produce as big of an ear as possible, but we don't sacrifice a fancy ear for taste. Tasty corn is what we do.
Tips to keeping your corn fresh
- When selecting your corn do not open up the husks on the corn. If you feel the need to check the corn, watch for a trend. If the first few ears are all good, then you probably do not need to open any other ears. If you feel you must check each ear, pull back as little husk as possible and carefully push the top closed when finished. Remember, we always give you 13 ears to the dozen just in case you receive a less than perfect ear of corn.
- If you will not be eating your corn immediately, place it in a paper grocery bag in the refrigerator. This will slow down the break down of sugars.
- Try to eat any corn the same day as you buy it. The fresher it is, the better it will taste. Our corn is meant to be eaten the same day it was picked or within one day if refrigerated. It will not necessarily spoil after that, but there will not be as much flavor.