Some people welcome summer on the summer solstice. For others it is the last day of school or the first day at the beach. For me summer arrives when I have my first ear of Jersey corn.
Those of you who aren’t lucky enough to live in the mid-Atlantic region have my pity. You don’t know what you are missing. There is nothing so wonderful as fresh ear of sweet white corn grown in the fertile fields of southern New Jersey. Believe me, I have tried corn all over the world, including Iowa. There’s something in the soil in New Jersey. I don’t know what it is. Some children dream of sugar plums. I dreamed of corn.
Today I had my first ear and it was perfect. Sweet and tender. Of course I slathered it in butter and salt, but honestly it didn’t need it. Good Jersey corn can always hold its own. I was going to take pictures but I just got so excited and couldn’t contain myself. I inhaled it and only remember my plan as I tossed the cobs into the compost. Oops! Here’s a generic picture of corn instead:
There is only one place I’ll buy corn: a little road side produce stand that I worked at a million years ago. It was my first real job. I spent my summers in flip-flops and gym shorts selling corn and tomatoes and peaches. Working at the stand taught me how to identify a ripe watermelon and introduced me to white peaches. It also enabled my love affair with corn. Every day from July 4th until Labor Day I consumed at least one ear of corn, typically two or three. I’ve even eaten corn raw, straight off the cob. It is one of the only foods that I can eat and eat and eat and never grow tired of. If you are in the area, the stand is on Rt. 41 in Hockessin. If you are heading north it is on the right hand side in the same strip as the Hockessin Book Shelf.
Corn is best enjoyed the day it is picked. If you must buy it in advance, only get it one day in advance. Two at the absolute most. Wait to shuck and clean the corn until the last possible minute. NEVER buy those pre-shucked cellophane packs of corn they sell at the grocery store these days. I don’t know about health hazards, but as a far as taste goes, you might as well just eat the styrofoam tray it comes on. Yuck!
Really good corn should be cooked as simply as possible – grilled, boiled, or roasted. It doesn’t need herbs or marinades or cheese or bacon anything like that. This coming from a girl who puts cheese on everything. One of my favorite sandwiches growing up was peanut butter and cheese. So if I say something doesn’t need cheese, trust me.
I’m a big fan of roasting corn. Preheat the oven to 350* and place your ears (husk on) directly on the rack. Cook for 30 minutes and when you shuck them, the silks fall right off. Once it is cooked you can drench it in butter and salt if you want, but nothing more than that.
Of course, all of this applies to New Jersey corn. If you aren’t in the area…I’m sorry. Feel free to doctor up your corn however you must to make it edible. Add all the bacon and cheese you want.
Also, it’s best to buy corn from a farmer you trust or buy organic as GMO varieties of sweet corn were introduced a few years ago.