Corn, sweet Corn....

Sweet Corn

By Amanda Reasnor

Sweet corn is the sought after prize at any Montana farmers’ market.  Here are some tips from Mike Sartorie, of Sartorie Farms, for picking and preserving that perfect ear of sweet corn.

  • Corn genetics dictate the corn’s sugar content.  As soon as the corn is picked, sugar converts to starch.  To maintain its sweet flavor, old varieties of corn have to be eaten as soon as they are picked.    The newer varieties which can be found at Sartorie Farms have a slower conversion process and can be stored longer before being eaten.
  • With all the varieties of corn available, it is true that you get what you pay for.  Higher end corn varieties will be sweeter and last longer but may cost a few extra dollars.  Older varieties tend to be less tender and convert to starch much faster but cost less.
  • The best time of day to pick corn is in the morning when the temperature is cool.  Warm temperatures expedite the sugar to starch conversion.  It is not a good idea to buy corn that has been sitting under the sun all day.
  • A big faux pas when selecting corn is to peel back its husk and especially to test a kernel with a fingernail.  Not only is this unsanitary, it dries out the corn.
  • Store corn in the refrigerator with its husks on to prevent dehydration.
  • Boiling corn is Mike’s preferred cooking method.  The Sartorie Farm’s corn is so sweet and tender that a quick boil of 3 – 5 minutes for firm kernels to 10 minutes for soft kernels is all that is required.
  • To freeze corn, Mike explains that it is best to remove the kernels from the cob first.  Corn that is frozen on the cob tends to become too fibrous and mushy.
  • The sweetest corn is found around Labor Day, at the end of the corn growing season.  Plants are larger and the sugar has had a longer time to build up in the ears. Mike says this is the best time to stock up on this super sweet corn and freeze it to enjoy over the winter months.

For a special twist on sweet corn, try blending herbs with butter for delicious seasoned buttery goodness.  Some combinations to try with butter:  dill, chives, and lemon juice or chipotle chilies and lime juice to kick things up a notch.