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Sweet on Corn

One of my favorite things about summer is biting into an ear of just-picked sweet corn straight from the field (no cooking needed), tasting each kernel of sweetness. We have our first picking of sweet corn at the Fruit Stand and boy, is it good! With the sweet corn harvest underway in California, now's the best time to enjoy this summer staple -- especially for your Fourth of July picnic or barbecue.  Our Midwest farming colleagues claim they have the market share on growing sweet corn. They certainly grow a lot of it! But California farmers produce some amazingly sweet, tender corn, too! There are several seed varieties of sweet corn that do well in our diverse California soils. Sweet corn is picked in the "milk stage" so the kernels are tender. Look for full, rounded (or domed) kernels to help ensure its freshness. Kernels on older corn will have indentations. The key to getting sweet corn at its best is to make sure the corn is freshly picked. Ask your farmer's market farmer or the produce manager at your grocery store if the corn was harvested within a few days -- you can expect a good sweet product. The key is to get and keep the corn cold immediately after harvest to help ensure the sugars don't convert to starch. We eat so much corn during the summer I’m surprised we don’t moo or oink! Our favorite way to eat sweet corn is off the cob, sautéed in butter with sweet red onion -- no calories there! I also like to add raw sweet corn in a salad for an extra blast of natural sweetness. Or try adding a cup of sweet corn to a corn bread recipe or box mix. It also is a nice sweet addition to homemade Pico de Gallo, using red onions, tomatoes, cilantro and Fresno or jalapeño chilies. An easy way to cut corn off the cob is by using a Bundt or tube pan. Place the ear in the middle of the “tube” and cut around the ear, using the pan to capture the kernels. It’s much easier than having to chase loose kernels around the cutting board.

So treat yourselves this week to some Californian-grown sweet corn and have fun exploring the many ways you can use it. And, it freezes well so buy plenty of it now while it’s in season.

Liz, her husband Earl, their grown children and their families make up Hudson Farms, a fifth-and sixth-generation family farm in Sanger, CA.

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