The sweet corn of summer

The Sweet Corn of Summer

Just in time for July 4th! 

Erin Davis

I remember when I learned to shuck corn at about the age of nine or 10.  I was at my grandparent’s cabin up in the mountains and a  couple of us cousins were sent out to the porch with a stack of corn ears and brown paper bags. (Pictured here is my next generation and their cousins learning the same.)

We sat in a bit of a circle, got a 2-second lesson from an aunt, and set to work. It was fun and frustrating trying to get all those silk strings off and into the paper bag instead of on the porch. We teased each other and joked while we worked. While I can’t remember how long it took or if that was the only time we shucked corn together – I do remember how good it felt to do something as a family. Dinner tasted all the more sweet since I had helped.

My grandmother boiled the corn, then cut it off the cob and smothered it in butter and salt and pepper. I still love it this way the most! Now my kids have the same job I did way back when. It suits summer, BBQs, and especially the 4th of July well!

Corn isn’t just a part of my history – it’s part of America’s history. Corn originated in the Americas and was a diet staple for native peoples. Sweet corn, a natural variation of field corn, has been part of our food culture since the 1700s. Now corn is the most widely grown crop in the western hemisphere. California ranks second in sweet corn production with harvest from June to October – no wonder corn reminds us of summertime.

Whether it is on the BBQ, in the boiling pot, or mixed in your summer salad corn is highly nutritious. It is rich in antioxidants, minerals, and b-vitamins Thiamin and Niacin. Plus it helps with digestion and maintains good vision and healthy skin. So, don’t discount corn as an excellent side dish to any meal.

Go enjoy some local sweet corn widely available at farm stands and grocery stores throughout the summer! As the 4th of July holiday approaches, enjoy the freedom to celebrate traditions, including the foods that have been part of our history, culture, and lifestyle for generations.

For a twist on the usual ear of corn with your hamburger… and in case the summer heat keeps you inside, we have a great corn casserole recipe for you to try. Check it out HERE.