Monday, September 20, 2010

Sweet Corn-u-copia

Sweet corn is one of Terry's favorite crops.  It's big, fast-growing, easily recognizable, and reminds him of the rural farm fields of his childhood.  Oh, and it tastes really good too.  Summer BBQ's aren't the same without corn on the cob, buttery fingers, and kernels stuck in your teeth. 

This year we grew two varieties of sweet corn, Peaches-and-Cream and Trinity.  Both are bicolor which means they have yellow and white kernels.  We have grown Peaches-and-Cream the past few years and loved it.  Trinity was new for us.  

Trinity is a short season variety and therefore has shorter stalks and smaller ears.  Trinity started to ripen about two to three weeks before Peaches-and-Cream, so between the two varieties we were able to pick corn from early August to mid-September.  We had a couple of wind storms that blew several stalks over into the sidewalk.  The ears weren't mature yet, so we cut off the top of the stalks that were trip hazards and left the rest to mature.  The ears still ripened even though the stalks were laid over.  

Another issue we had with corn was bugs.  There were quite a few black aphids on the leaves and tassels.  We weren't sure what the organic treatment would be, so we let it go and found that ladybugs were all over it.  They laid eggs which hatched into voracious aphid-eating larva.  The other pest that liked our corn was earwigs.  They like to hide under the outer leaves of the husks.  I dealt with them by peeling the outer husk and shaking the earwigs out as I picked the ears.  Terry brought the whole ears in the house and squished the earwigs in the sink as he peeled the ears.

You know your ears of corn are getting close to pick when the silk browns out.  You can peel back the husk to check to see if the kernels are plump and the right color.  You can pop a kernel with your thumbnail and the juice should be milky and not clear.  Don't wait too long to pick your corn past maturity because the sugars will turn from sweet to starchy.  The kernels will also become tough.  Once this happens the corn is best used in soups or casseroles.           

We like the eat corn simply on the cob with or without butter.  I boil up a big pot of water, add the cobs, and cook for exactly three minutes.  They always come out perfect.  I ended up liking the flavor the Trinity better than Peaches-and-Cream.  It was sweeter and more tender.  We'll definitely plant more Trinity next year.  

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