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!
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.