Corn is a type of cereal grain that can be harvested and eaten as a vegetable. There are different types of corn, but what we’re going to talk about today is all about corn. Sweet corn has kernels that taste like a cross between sugar and butter – it’s delicious!
Corn has many uses in our life; it can make food tastier (think popcorn!), provide us with fuel, or even help save the environment! Read on to learn more about this fascinating plant.
Summer is coming, and one of the most anticipated treats is the delight of enjoying a fresh ear of sweet corn brushed with melted butter. Corn on the cob is delicious, but there’s more than one way to serve fresh corn. Along with the corn harvest comes a big variety of other vegetables and dishes.
Things You Can Make with Corn
First of all, a lot of different recipes. Corn and corn byproducts are in about 70% of the food in your grocery store! From corn chips to pancake syrup, from corn oil to cornstarch, from pasta sauce to even canned fruit.
Corn is also used to feed animals such as cows and chickens. So, even some of the meat at your store comes from corn!.
When you cut the corn from the cob, the possibilities for preparing corn are endless. You can add it to bread to make a wonderful spoon bread recipe, or a great Southern favorite, corn pudding.
Corn combines well with other summer vegetables such as tomatoes, bell peppers, and onions. The secret to a great dish is to use the freshest corn available. The less time that passes between the garden and the finished recipe the better.
But I believe that is true for pretty much any fruits or vegetables.
Other corn uses:
- Corn is able to be used as fuel for vehicles and heating – it is usually referred to as biodiesel.
- Corn is used in plastic products such as bottles, tires, containers for food, and other items.
- It is also a popular ingredient in toothpaste!
- Corn can even be turned into pellets that are used in camp stoves!
All About Corn: How to Pick Out Good Corn
When you’re selecting corn, choose ears with tight, green husks and tender milky-looking kernels that are evenly spaced on the ear and firm enough to puncture if you squeeze it a little.
If you’re not going to be preparing your corn immediately after you get it home, then buy it with the husks and put it in the refrigerator to prevent the sugar in the corn from turning to starch and tasting less than sweet. If your recipe calls only for kernels of corn, remember that two average-size ears will usually give you about one cup of corn kernels.
All About Corn: How to Grow Corn
In order to successfully grow corn, some things should be considered. The first consideration is that it needs full sun and warm weather in order to grow. It also requires well-drained soil with a pH level of between about five or six (neutral). In addition, pollination from the wind can help produce higher yields if there isn’t enough bees around.
It can take anywhere from six to ten weeks for corn kernels to grow inside the silk of the ear and become mature enough to harvest–depending on if you’re planting a sweet variety or a field corn variety.
Harvesting is done by pulling back one side of the husk, removing it, then holding down that same side of the husk and pulling back the other side. You can then remove any silk that is still attached to the ear of corn, removing it from both sides at once.
The ears are then dried out in a proper storage space to prevent spoilage before they’re bagged or frozen for later use.
In order to plant corn with the intention of harvesting, it’s necessary to not only have the corn kernels available but also a properly prepared plot of land.
A good rule of thumb is that you’ll need about two inches between every row and with the rows being at least six feet apart–though some people prefer wider spacing in order to facilitate easier haying or other tasks once the corn is harvested.
The corn needs to be planted about one foot deep, again with rows spaced six feet apart with two inches between each row.
This spacing is also necessary in order for the roots of the plants to spread and help anchor them against wind or other weather-related disasters–especially during particularly gusty storms.
It is also important to remember that corn is a wind-pollinated plant, so it’s necessary for the pollen from one row of plants to make contact with the silk on another in order for fertilization–which will subsequently lead to an ear.
I have prepared a few fun corn worksheets for you! You will learn all about how corn grows, the corn life cycle, and even the parts of a corn kernel – which is really the seed. I added a “parts of the corn plant” worksheet as well as a few fun activities.
Get your FREE printable corn unit study packet here
All About Corn: How to Grill Corn
Fresh corn and the grill go together like fireworks and the Fourth of July, but you don’t have to wait for a holiday or special occasion to enjoy corn on the cob. Supersweet corn from Florida is ready to grill right now.
Unlike traditional corn, Supersweet corn has more natural sugars and stays sweet longer. To keep kernels sweet and tender, always store fresh corn in the refrigerator in a high-humidity drawer or wrapped loosely in plastic. For perfect grilled corn follow these tips:
Out of the husk-for slightly charred, smoky flavor:
Brush ears with melted butter or flavored oil; grill, turning often, until kernels are golden, 7 to 10 minutes.
In the husk-for more intense flavor:
Pull back the husks and remove silks; replace husks and tie in place with a strip of husk or string. Soak in water for 10 minutes. Grill, turning often, for 7 to 10 minutes. For easy eating, pull back the husks and tie them together to form a handle.
In foil-for moist, make-ahead corn:
Place each husked ear on a square of foil; brush with butter (plain or seasoned with garlic and/or herbs), barbecue sauce, or flavored oil; wrap ears. Grill, turning often, for 7 to 10 minutes.
Place husked ears on a shallow pan, lightly brush with butter, about 6 inches from a hot broiler; grill, turning often, until golden, 7 to 10 minutes.
After grilling, add flavor to the corn with one of these combinations:
Easy Pesto Butter: Mix one stick of softened butter with 2 tablespoons pesto from a jar or made at home.
Buffalo Corn Butter: Mix 1/2 stick softened butter with 1 tablespoon each of hot sauce and lemon juice.
Herb Butter: Mix 1/2 stick softened butter with 1 teaspoon of your favorite dried herb (such as rosemary or dill).
Goat Cheese Spread: Combine 1/4 cup goat cheese with 2 tablespoons butter and 1 teaspoon dried thyme.
Sesame Soy Sauce: Combine 1/4 cup soy sauce with 2 tablespoons of each lime juice and toasted sesame oil.
I hope you see why corn is so important to learn about! We really rely on it more than most people know.