Sunday, August 3, 2008

Please People: Stop the Insane In-Store Corn Shucking!

For the love of Orville Redenbacher, will all you in-store corn shuckers stop! This seems to be a DC area phenomena that gets worse each year. Do you know how ridiculous you look making a mess in the aisles of the produce departments of Safeway or Giant by stripping the husks off of your ears of corn like some insane yuppie Edward Scissorhands? What agriculturally challenged moron started this unacceptable abuse of sweet corn? Would you unwrap chicken breasts before tossing them in your cart? Peel the apples before purchasing?

Trust me on this: I know corn. I spent the first 22 years of my life in Indiana where corn, along with basketball and Jesus makes up the Hoosier Holy Trinity. Former teachers of mine still get misty-eyed fondly recalling my prize winning 4-H project “Our Friend Corn.”

I know my yellows (Sweet Sunshine, Kandy Korn, Early and Often) and my whites (Sugar Pearl, Country Gentleman, Silver Choice) and the bi-delicious bi-colors (Peaches and Cream, Sun and Stars, Checkered Choice). I also know the one thing you will never see at a Midwestern farm stand—CUSTOMERS SHUCKING THEIR CORN!!

Here's why you want to keep your corn wrapped in that beautiful natural corn condom: the sugars that produce the sweet flavor that enhances the taste of corn start converting to starch when it is picked and within about 2 days are about 50% depleted. Stripping the corn of its natural wrapper speeds this process and also causes it to dry quicker. Is that what you want to serve at your barbecue? Dry chewy starchy corn?

Shucking corn in the grocery store only makes sense if you have a cauldron of water already boiling in your car or maybe you are planning on grilling them on your radiator on your drive home.

I don't buy the excuse of those who claim they are only checking to see if the corn is ripe. You can easily tell if corn is ready to go home with you. Is the husk vibrant green, are the silks of the tassels still fresh and soft to the touch? When you run your fingernails along the rows of kernels, do they feel firm, tight and plump? If so you got yourself a nice ear of sweet corn ready for in-home shucking right before you are ready to cook it.

Next time you are tempted to shuck your corn at the grocery store, you better look over your shoulder. If I catch you contributing to the plague of gummy corn on the cob I will totally take your picture and post it here. I have a camera phone and I'm not afraid to use it!

Update 8/19/2008

I am not to proud to admit when I am wrong. I stated above you should shuck your corn shortly before cooking it. Following the advice of Tyler Florence, I tried roasting the corn cobs in the oven with the husks still on.

Delish! And so simple!

Here's Tyler's "recipe"

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Place corn husks directly on the oven rack and roast for 30 minutes or until corn is soft.

Peel down the husks and use as a handle when eating.


washwords said...

Ha ha ha. Okay, I'm literally lol at the starbucks and people are lookin at me. I had no idea corn-shucking was such a problem, but you had me at "people-store-corn-stop" in google reader.

How are ya, Herb? other than pissed off about corn shuckery? did you ever get to ben's? I'm waiting for the live report!

washwords said...

and p.s. I just saw that you added "winner of" [liz and my contests] to your "about me." Wow. I am so honored. It's nice how you and I have so much in common, like the "talking about working out" and that you dream about me. It was me, right? Cause I dream about me, too! all the time!

Herb of DC said...

hey Washwords! How are you?

I'm still saving my Ben's certificate for a date or at least a long night of drinking.

I'll never tell which blogger(s) appeared in my dream. But it was very G rated. Like my life!

Metro Man said...

LOL I've always found it odd, but always kept my sentiments about this to myself. But I agree with you 100%!

J.M. Tewkesbury said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog today! I 100% agree with you on the corn shucking thing. I just don't get it.

And now I'm hungry for corn. I think a drive to the farms just beyond Ellicot City is in order.

Bethany said...

I completely agree with you. As a corn-fed midwestern girl (raised in Indiana and Michigan), I take my corn very seriously. I could never figure out why people would want to shuck their corn at the store, except MAYBE to make a mess of all the corn silk at the store instead of their own house.

Thank you for bringing attention to this serious matter!

Anonymous said...

Wow! I am one of those people! I thought that was what you were supposed to do. Thanks for alerting me to this breach in corn etiquette!

DCSportsChick said...

That drives me bonkers as well. I never understood why people did that.

Katherine said...

I grew up in the Midwest and they had those corn shucking bins at the local Krogers, too. My mother, who is from Florida, was always ranting about them. I quickly learned.

rallycap said...

I never understood that either.

That and why people put bananas in a plastic bag.

Anonymous said...

Wait, people actually do this? I'm in Nebraska right now, home of the Cornhuskers. I think I'll go to the store to see if people engage in such behavior here.

jimbo said...

Listen, Mr. Herb: _I_ know corn, and you sir, you sir DO NOT know corn.

I KNOW CORN! I come from a town whose only celebration is the KORN FEST (with fireworks, an auto show, tractor pull and .25 ears of corn). I'm frakkin' growing it in my front treebox!

But I agree, shucking at the store is totally retarded. You can preserve freshness and retain kernel integrity by keeping it in the husk before cooking. Not that I've ever tasted a truly fresh ear of corn in this city....

Herb of DC said...

Jimbo, I won't argue over who has the superior corn (Korn?) credentials. However, I did leave out my affiliation with the Hoosier FFA due to concern that some locals might totally misinterpret the abbreviation.

Congrats though on your corn crop in your treebox. Please post pictures soon!

jimbo said...

Actually it's not corn, it's sorghum, a close cousin. It was supposed to be "ornamental" as shown on the package, but it looks just like corn.

Next year I think I'll plant indian corn, which actually has pretty leaves.

Ken and Belly said...

Saw you linked from dcblogs and... well, I have to say that this South Dakota girl, born and raised with a cornfield in her backyard somewhere between the Iowa border and a place called the Corn Palace, disagrees. We leave the hair and leaves at the stand/store whenever possible because they start to stink so fast. We always eat it the day we get it so it doesn't dry out-- I'm with you on that one! Grocery stores back home actually leave garbage cans right next to the corn section.

lacochran said...

I don't shuck corn in the stores but I do peel a tiny bit to see if the top is rotted or the kernals are woefully undeveloped. If not, I grab it and rush it home to the pot!

Silver Queen rocks!!

Anonymous said...

I thank you for that information on corn. I honestly have never bought fresh corn in the store and wondered why people do the shucking. I didn't want to be the goof who took my corn home un-shucked when I was supposed to do so. I was simply looking for information on why it is done, and now I know I don't need to do it. Thank you!

Hudson said...

HELP! We were given some corn that is already shucked, and does not have the husks on them. Supposedly it is "fresh from the farm." It was shucked yesterday and looks a bit dry. Is there anyway to save this corn? If so, how should I fix it? Or should we just make our 2 chickens really, really happy?

dogg said...

Morons shuck corn in a store. Your reasons are correct. Yeah, I want to eat starch! Unbelievable.

However, you did not mention a disgusting behavior. Peeling the tip of the husk back and sticking a fingernail in a kernel (sorry, it's usually women with longer fingernails). Not ripe? Just toss it back for some unwary customer to go home and "eat"; along with the.....I'll be delicate....."germs" under your fingernail!

No thanks. I'll grow my own.

Anonymous said...

Thank God someone who finally makes sense! This is a pet peeve of mine. I thought it a bizarre habit too. I have no idea when it started but when I first saw it thought people have lost their kids.