Corn on and off the cob

July 20th, 2009    •  by Bethia    •   4 Comments »


I love corn on the cob. It was one of the pleasures of childhood summers spent in New Jersey with my grandparents. My grandfather grew his own corn, usually Silver Queen and when I was young I would go out on the tractor to help him pick it. He liked to bring it straight from the garden to the kitchen, as close to dinner time as possible and as we picked he would sing me the same old song:

Oh said the blackbird to the crow
Down to the cornfield we must go
husking corn has been our trade
ever since this world was made.

I would help my grandmother husk the corn and it would go straight into a large pot of boiling water. She had one of those pots with a built in strainer and would cook 10-12 ears at a time.

When I first moved to the states, I tried cooking corn on the cob for myself but I didn’t have a big enough pan. I saw a friend cooking corn in the microwave placing the husked ears in a pyrex covered with saran wrap and it seemed a good idea for cooking smaller quantities. When I got home I did some research online about cooking corn on the cob in the microwave. After some trial and error here is my preferred method. It is really easy and I have had great results.

Cut the brown ends of the silk off the ear.
Remove a few of the outer green husk layers but do not completely husk the corn.
Place the ears of corn in the microwave and cook on full power for 2-3 minutes.
Timing is variable depending on your microwave wattage, how many ears of corn you are cooking and how done you like your corn. It doesn’t take many attempts to figure it out for your microwave). Feel the ears and add more time if you think they need it.
When done the outside of the husk will feel very hot to touch. I usually let it sit for a few minutes and husk it just before I want to serve it.
Husking the corn is much easier when it is cooked as the silk sticks together and to the husk rather than to the ear.

This weekend I made a recipe from David Tanis’ A Platter of Figs: Corn, Squash, and beans with Jalapeño Butter. It was good, but I don’t think you need as much water as he suggests or to cook the vegetables for nearly as long. We used some of the left over butter for corn on the cob and it was wonderful.

Jalapeño Butter
Put a softened stick of butter into a small bowl.
Stir in 1 minced jalapeño pepper (you can remove the seeds for a less spicy butter)
Add salt and pepper, the grated zest and juice of 1 lime and a tablespoon of finely chopped chives. Mix well.

Another salad I love with corn, is Peter Berley‘s quinoa, green bean, corn and cherry tomato salad from The Flexitarian Table. Here is a photo of it from last summer (without tomatoes).


The other thing I do with corn is to make my own frozen sweet corn. I husk the corn, stand the ears on end and run a sharp knife down the cob. You have to be careful not to press too hard or you get the tougher part of the kernel. I freeze the corn kernels on a baking tray (either on a non-stick tray or use parchment) and once frozen, transfer to a freezer bag. This way you can use however much you want to throw into a recipe. I do not blanch the corn, but I know that some people do and you may be able to keep them longer if you do.

4 Comments to “Corn on and off the cob”

  1. Bobby Flay has some great compound butter recipes on his site too – fabulous with corn: http://www.bobbyflay.com/contents/recipe_print.php?id=98

  2. I just tried your microwaved corn, and I loved it. I hate when my corn goes bad because I didn’t want to heat up a huge pot, or I don’t have the time to cook. This was a quick and easy way to do it. My next way is to try and grill it.

  3. Justin Roberts
    July 21, 2009

    Enjoyed that post. Pretty common in Zim too, so childhood memories for me too, of munching my way around a “mielie” ear dripping with salted butter. It was also quite a common ingredient in bread, sliced off like you describe and added to bread dough to sweeten/flavour “mielie bread”!


  4. Susan W.
    July 21, 2009

    Of course, I loved this post.
    My mother’s legacy in this matter is, if you do have a tall cooking pot, not to fill it with water. She had about an inch and a half of water in the bottom, so the corn was more steamed than boiled. In the short time that it took to cook the ears, there wasn’t much danger of the pot boiling dry. Then, if you’ve used that method, there are special corn silking brushes over there.
    The frozen corn would have been used for Succotash in your grandparents’ home.
    The variety of corn that your grandfather grew before Silver Queen became popular was Stoll’s Evergreen. I don’t know if that’s a heritage seed now.

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