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 80 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.
*Ask us about our wholesale sweet corn prices by calling the farm (608-757-1200).
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 McIntosh, 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.
Cooking and Freezing Tips
Microwave: The ears of corn after being husked and washed can either be placed in a covered dish with a sprinkle of water or can be wrapped individually with wax paper with the ends of the paper twisted. Microwave between 1 1/2 to 2 minutes per ear (less time per ear when cooking large amounts). If wrapped in paper, unwrap carefully as the corn will be very steamy!
Boiling: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Do not add any salt. Put husked corn in water and bring water back to a boil for about 5-10 minutes or until corn is steamy.
Grilling: To grill corn, select nice ears that have not had the ends opened. Soak the ears in a bucket of water for 30 minutes or longer. Then simply cook over coals or on a gas grill turning occasionally until the husks become slightly charred. Depending on your grill this could take as little as 10 minutes or as much as 20 minutes. It takes a little experimenting to determine how long you like your corn cooked. Once grilled, the ears will stay hot for some time or can be put in a slow cooker or covered container to keep warm until serving. To serve, pull back the husk and enjoy!
Freezing: Husk and wash the corn while you bring a large kettle of water to a boil. Once the water is boiling, blanch (boil) the entire ear of corn (several at one time) for 4 minutes. Remove the corn and immediately cool down in an ice water bath (we use several changes of water to cool more quickly) since you do not want the corn to still be warm when it enters the freezer. Completely cooling the corn before freezing is important. Drain the ears of corn and then remove the corn from the cob. A technique we use eliminates much of the mess. You will need an electric knife and either a bundt or angel food cake pan. Place the large end of the cob in the top of the tube. Carefully holding the other end of the cob, slice down each side of the ear. The kernels will fall into the pan, which keeps your work area much neater. Approximately 3 ears of corn will give you two cups of corn when removed from the cob. Place in freezer containers, freeze, and enjoy this winter. Corn can be frozen on the cob if you wish. Blanch the ears between 7 and 10 minutes and cool in ice water. Drain well.
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.