Eating freshly harvested corn on the cob is a treasured rite of summer, and the time to enjoy it is right now. Sweet corn is quick and easy to prepare, loaded with nutrients such as fiber and B vitamins, fun to eat—and all you really need to enjoy it is a good set of teeth.
To select sweet corn, look for creamy-colored cobs of kernels wrapped in fresh, moist green leaves. If you can, pull the husk back and puncture a kernel with your fingernail—if the corn is fresh, it will exude a milky liquid. Perfectly ripe corn will have brown—but not dry—tassels.
The rule that sweet corn should be cooked only minutes after harvest to prevent the kernels’ sugar from turning starchy has been amended a bit. In recent decades, the sugar content in sweet corn has doubled—making the vegetable taste sweet for a much longer post-harvest time. Nevertheless, for the best corn experience, rush the cobs from stalk to pot as quickly as possible.
If you must store fresh corn, store the ears—in their husks—in a refrigerator crisper drawer for up to two days.
Ears of corn with ample amounts of silk have more kernels on their cobs.
TO BOIL SWEET CORN, bring a large pot of water to boiling. Add 1 tablespoon sugar. Remove the ears’ husks and silk, drop the ears into the water, cover and return to boiling. Boil for 3 minutes; then remove pot from heat and let corn stand in hot water until serving time.
TO GRILL SWEET CORN, do not remove husks. Preheat grill to medium hot. Place whole ears directly on grill rack. Grill for 15 to 20 minutes, turning often. Let ears cool slightly; peel husks back and enjoy.
TO GRILL MEXICAN-STYLE SWEET CORN, pull husks and silk back from ears, but do not remove them. Preheat grill to medium. Place ears directly on grill rack. Grill corn for 8 to 10 minutes while turning and basting with melted butter every 2 minutes or so. Remove corn from grill; sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Transfer corn to a platter; let cool until cool enough to touch. Remove husks and silk. Roll corn first in Mexican crema or sour cream; then roll through finely grated Cotija or Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle corn with hot chili powder and finish with a squeeze of lime.