Peeling corn on the cob

Sweet and tender corn is a pinnacle of summer, enjoyed raw, grilled, on the cob, or off. It is a plentiful and inexpensive ingredient that adds a burst of sweetness to any dish, and, boy, do we cherish it.

Before you’re able to enjoy the perfection that is summer corn, you, of course, need to choose it. Here are a few tips for selecting the best summer corn from your market:

  1. We know the easiest way to choose corn is to take a little peek under the hood—that is, to peel it. It is generally considered less than perfect etiquette to unhusk corn before you’ve bought it, but if you do plan to take a glimpse at those top kernels, stop there.

    The instinct to peel at the store and keep those silky strands off your kitchen floor is reasonable. But the husk is protective and keeps the plump corn kernels from drying out. Leave the husks on until you’re ready to cook the corn for the longest fridge-life and the tastiest corn.

  2. In lieu of peeling, the easiest indicator of a fresh piece of corn is the silk coming out through the top of the husk, called the tassel. It should be golden brown and slightly moist, almost tacky. If it’s black or dry like hay, that’s a sign that it’s been sitting around for awhile.

  3. The husk should be bright green and nice and snug up against the corn. You should be able to feel the corn kernels through the husk—and indicator that they’re plump and sweet. If you’re feeling lots of flat spots or divots, you may want to pass that corn up. This could be a sign that the corn is starting to rot or has been visited by hungry bugs.

  4. Don’t get hung up on color. No matter what you heard growing up, yellow corn is not sweeter than white corn, white corn is not sweeter than yellow corn, and bi-color corn is just the same as the others. Sweet corn comes in all three varieties and will be delicious regardless.

Once you bring your corn home, you can keep it at room temperature if you plan to cook it the same day. Otherwise, it will hold up best wrapped in its husk in the refrigerator.

To get the most out of your corn, remember to freeze any leftover used cobs in a zip-top bag to use for stock or corn soup later.

Try some of our favorite corn recipes!

Corn and Tomato Salad with Basil Vinaigrette

Corn and Tomato Salad with basil vinaigrette

Creamy Corn with Blackened Tilapia

Creamy Corn with Blackened Tilapia and tomatoes

Grilled Kielbasa with Corn-Cabbage Slaw

Grilled Kielbasa with Corn Slaw

Mexican-Style Street Corn Salad

Mexican-Style Street Corn Salad