August is prime time for picking sweet corn in northern Ohio. In Amish country, you’ll be able to find locally-grown corn in roadside stands and farmer’s markets throughout the area. Occasionally, you’ll see a hand-painted sign in a private lane advertising the abundance of a home garden “Sweet Corn 4 Sale”.
Sweet corn is the result of years of selective breeding. Although the occasional sweet ear has been known to Native Americans for centuries, only in recent years have the use of hybrid genetics refined the taste and texture in what we now call “sweet corn.” In the days of our grandparents, they were used to eating field corn, or the corn raised for feeding animals. Don’t try eating field corn. It’s not sweet at all and you’ll be disappointed.
How to Select Sweet Corn
When selecting your corn, take an ear in your hand – you’ll be able to feel if the kernels are full and plump. Stay away from ears that feel tough and hard. They are either not ripe or perhaps over-ripe. If possible, pull the silk and husk away from the top of the ear. If the corn is wormy or full of bugs, you’ll probably find them this way. Check the bottom of the ears, too. If the base is very dry or even brown, the corn isn’t fresh.
Since sweet corn begins to lose its sweetness when it’s picked, you’ll want to use it immediately or in the next day or so. Over time, the sugars in the kernels are converted to starches, giving the corn a tough texture and little taste. Try not to buy corn that has been setting in the sun since the heat increases this process. If you must store your corn, leave them in the husks and keep in the refrigerator. Only husk your corn when you intend to use it.
“Incredible” Sweet Corn Variety
Throughout the hundreds of varieties of sweet corn, you’ll find yello, white and bicolor corn. Any can be excellent choices for eating, but the sweetest will have the extra gene that will give it a higher sugar content.
By far and away, the most popular corn variety in Amish country is called “Incredible”. Known as a superior eating corn, it has large ears with small, tender extra-sweet kernels. It’s a mid-season corn (85 days from planting to harvest) and it stays sweet longer than some varieties.
Another common variety is Kandy Korn, a yellow corn with slightly smaller ears, but also with extra sweet taste. This corn will keep well and is good for eating, canning and freezing.
Where to Buy Sweet Corn
Hillcrest Orchard, Walnut Creek – selling “Incredible” and bicolor extra sweet
Miller’s Market, Walnut Creek – selling a bicolor corn
Sweetwater Farm, Sugarcreek – selling “Incredible”
Mt. Hope Produce Auction, Mount Hope – auctioning large lots of all types of varieties
Yutzy’s Farm Market, Plain City – White, bicolor and yellow varieties
Recipe: Baked Corn
2 cups fresh corn, freshly cut from the ear
1 can cream-style corn
3 eggs, beaten
1 box Jiffy corn muffin mix
8 oz. sour cream
1 stick margerine melted
Mix all ingredients and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until top is browned.
(from the Der Dutchman 30th Anniversary Cookbook, contributed by Michele Stotler)