Summer Favorites: Corn on the Cob

Summer Favorites: Corn on the Cob
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Corn on the cob is right up there with homegrown tomatoes and watermelon as everyone's favorite summer food.

Whether you grow it youself or buy it from a local farmer, it's good to know the proper time to harvest corn, and the best methods of preparing it.

Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service has a good description of the perfect time to pick sweet corn:

"The critical time is the milk stage, a
stage when the juice in the kernel appears milky when
you puncture the kernel with your thumbnail. Sweet corn
remains in the milk stage for a relatively short period, so
check the ears frequently. Corn that is too young will
ooze a watery material, while ears that are too old will
have a tough, doughy kernel. During the milk stage, the
unhusked ear should feel firm, have full kernels at the tip
of the ear, and have brown, dry silks. Generally, ears
should be ready about three weeks from silking time."

The basic method of cooking is very simple. Fill a pot large enough to hold the corn with water. Bring the water to a boil. While it's heating remove the husks and silk from the corn. When the water boils, carefully drop in the corn. Bring it back to a full boil. Turn off the burner, cover with a lid and allow the corn to sit in the hot water for 5-10 minutes. Remove with tongs and serve with butter and salt.


I love corn cooked on the grill with it's smoky flavor, and there are three methods of cooking corn on the grill that I use each summer. The first is to remove the silk from the ears but leave on the husk. Pull it back over the piece of corn, and soak in water for about 2 hours. Place on the grill, still in the husk, for 15-20 minutes, rotating often.  

The corn can also be completely cleaned of the silk and husk, wrapped in foil and grilled, turning often. The third method is to cook the corn directly on the grill, without foil or the husk. This method must be done carefully, turning more often so the corn does not scorch. I cook on a gas grill and on charcoal. I find cooking on coals, whether charcoal or wood, works better for vegetables or meat that scorch easily. Gas grills should be set at the lowest temperature possible.

Below are several variations to grilling corn if you want to spice it up a bit.

Savory Grilled Corn on the Cob

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp. vinegar
1/2 tbsp. minced garlic
1/2 tsp. chili powder

Mix together and brush this on the corn as it grills, turning frequently. This will baste 4-6 ears of corn.

Caesar Style Corn on the Cob

I can't Believe It's Not Butter spray
2-3 tbsp. grated Parmesan Cheese
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
Fresh lemon

Spray 6-8 ears of corn with spray on all sides. Grill for about 8 minutes, rotating often. Combine the cheese and garlic powder on a plate or pie tin. Spray the corn lightly with the spray again and roll in the cheese mixture. Right before serving squeeze a little bit of lemon over each piece of corn.

Spicy Grilled Corn on the Cob

1 teaspoon chili powder
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter, softened

Combine the ingredients and spread on corn--replace husk or wrap in foil and grill slowly.  This can also be spread on the corn after cooking while still warm.

You may also enjoy:
Summer Fruit Recipes
Summer Entertaining: Cold Soups
Summer Entertaining: No-Bake Desserts


About The Author

Brenda Hyde is a freelance writer living on ten acres in rural Michigan with her husband and three kids. She is a mom, grandma, gardener, cook and writer. She blogs on all of these topics at


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