Sweet corn is a natural mutation of the standard field corn variety. This mutation causes the corn to have higher sugar levels than the regular corn variety. Unlike regular field corn, sweet corn is picked much earlier at the milk stage and is consumed as a vegetable rather than a grain. By picking them earlier, the plant still hasn’t converted a majority of its sugar content to starch, which gives sweet corn its sweet taste. Once a strain of sweet corn has been identified, it should be isolated from other corn varieties as not to contaminate and cause the crop to become tough and starchy.
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Order: Poales
- Family: Poaceae
- Genus: Zea
- Species: Z. mays
- Binomial name: Zea mays L.
Sweet Corn Trivia
- An ear of sweet corn typically has around 800 kernels.
- Due to its wide domestication, it is almost impossible to find any wild-growing corn.
- The number of kernels on each corn cob is the same as the number of silk threads present. Someone must have counted a lot of threads to determine this number.
- Fourteen thousand pounds of sweet corn can be grown in an acre of land.
- One sweet corn plant can have anywhere between one and three cobs.
Sweet Corn Buying Guide
Forget canned corn, if sweet corn is in season then you should definitely get fresh. If you run across some sweet corn at your local grocer or farmers’ market, here are some tips to ensure that you pick the freshest ones. Remember, the fresher the corn, the sweeter it is.
- Look for green husks, the greener they are, the fresher they are.
- The silk or tassels on the top of the corn should be brown and slightly sticky, if it’s dry then it’s a sign that the sweet corn is no longer fresh.
- Give the ear of corn a good squeeze, it should feel full and plump, also feel for any holes or gaps in between the kernels.
- Take a look at the bottom of the corn where it has been snapped off the plant, if it’s brown, it’s a good indication that the corn is over two days old.
Sweet Corn Production & Farming in Texas
While Texas is a top-producing corn state, it does not rank among the top sweet corn-producing states. The reason for this is that a majority of the corn grown in the state is either for grain use or use as fodder. Sweet corn cannot be grown in the vicinity of other varieties of corn as it will contaminate the crop.
That’s not all bad news though. Most of the sweet corn that you can buy in the state and local farmers’ markets is grown by small farmers and homesteads that do not commercially produce corn for feed and industrial use so you can be sure that these were grown naturally and without excessive use of pesticides and chemicals.
Pesticides, Additives, and Chemicals:
Due to the multiple layers of protection provided by the corn husks, it is very unlikely that you’ll be consuming any chemical and pesticide residue on your sweet corn. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t any used. Corn is one of the most heavily sprayed crops in the United States and there will always be contamination on the fields, the runoffs, as well as the effects these may have on those who work the fields.
Farm fresh sweet corn is typically not packed in any special packaging. There may be cases where they’re packed in threes or fives inside a rigid plastic clamshell then sealed with cling film to prevent customers from peeking underneath the hull, but that’s about it.
Enjoying Sweet Corn
To fully enjoy fresh sweet corn, it is best enjoyed with as little additions as possible. Just a slather of butter after boiling, steaming or grilling and you’re all set to go. But don’t let that stop you from experimenting though. Sweet corn can be added to soups, salads, and even salsas.
Much like with any fresh produce, sweet corn is best enjoyed as soon as you get it. But if you’re buying ahead, sweet corn can be refrigerated for up to a week without turning starchy and losing its sweet taste. Simply wrap the corn in a damp paper bag (don’t remove the husks) then wrap that tightly in some cling film and keep then in the coldest section of your fridge.
If you won’t eat it anytime soon, then you can blanch the corn (husks off) for about 7-8 minutes, shock it in ice water to stop the cooking, and freeze them for up to a year.
How to boil sweet corn:
Well, this one is pretty straightforward, but for those who haven’t tried boiling corn before or just want to gain confidence in the kitchen, here’s a quick way of how we do it at the farm.
Sweet Corn (husk on)
Salt to taste
Bring some water to boil.
Once the water is boiling, drop in the sweet corn, husks and all.
Bring the water back to a boil and keep boiling for ten minutes.
Cover the container and keep there until ready to eat. (The husk will infuse some lovely flavor into the corn and protect it from getting too hard.)
Peel the corn, slather some butter, add some salt to taste then enjoy!
When Are Sweet Corn in Season in Texas?
To find out when Sweet Corn are in season in Texas, please check the seasonal chart below. Why is this important? We are rarely encouraged to think about the physical lengths our food travels before arriving on the market shelves. And all of this travel comes with a hefty environmental cost that is concealed from the consumer’s eye. One of the most salient benefits to eating seasonally is that you are effectively reducing your carbon footprint and supporting a more geographically sustainable food economy. Check other fruit and veg that’s in season in Texas now.