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Where to find good yellow corn on the cob? [moved from General Topics board]

Strange thing to be looking for, but one thing I miss as a
transplanted midwesterner is good corn. Californians have this
odd idea that white corn is better than yellow, "because it's
sweeter!" If I want my corn to taste like sugar cubes, I'll
buy sugar cubes. Yellow corn tastes like corn, as it should.
So, that's my rant.

My question? Does anyone know of a good place/produce store
that fairly regularly stocks good yellow corn. Ideally, I'm
interested in the Berkeley area: Monterey Market and Berkeley
Bowl rarely stock it -and I wont take out a loan to buy veggies
at Andronico's or Whole Foods if I can avoid it.

Thanks all :-)
-Mark

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  1. Do you have a time machine?

    White, yellow, or variegated, in recent years I've rarely found anything but cloying se and sh2 hybrids with no ripe corn flavor. None so far this year.

    1. I grew up in Michigan and know what you mean. Berkeley Bowl had yellow corn fairly often this summer, but I think you're too late for this year. I agree with you that the yellow corn has more corn flavor, and always get it when I can. But I don't buy corn unless the cut end of the ear looks fresh and the corn has been chilled. If it's warm to the touch it's already gone. I start buying corn when Brentwood corn appears in the markets and stop buying it when the Brenwood corn is gone. Given the choice between white corn that meets the above test and yellow corn that doesn't, I'll buy the white; and yes, sometimes, the white hybrids are just too damn sweet.

      --Richard

      1. This year's corn season seemed short to me. Started late and good corn came is spurts and sputters. I prefer the yellow corn myself and agree that the Brentwood stuff is the best. Alas, it's done and gone until next summer.

        1. Coulda sworn that's what they serve at Q (with Jalpeno lime butter), said the ex-Chicagoan.

          1. There was plenty of corn at the farmers market last Saturday.

            Monterey Market's a good place to try.

            1. Yes - when I asked Simon at MM for yellow corn he told me that when they do have it they end up throwing most of it away because "everybody" wants the sweet white! I'm almost happy to find just bi-color anymore!

              1 Reply
              1. re: sydthekyd

                At the farmers market, people seem happy to buy supersweet corn whether it's yellow or white. Both taste about the same, like sugar with a hint of lawn clippings. The yellow doesn't have any more corn flavor than the white.

              2. Ask the farmers at the Berkeley Farmer's Market -- I think they sometimes have stuff they don't bring to the market (because they don't think it will sell). They can probably bring it for you if they have it and know you are a buyer.

                1 Reply
                1. re: nomadfromcincy

                  If you find a farmer who does, please post about it. I've asked around and they just don't grow what I want.

                2. My understanding is white corn is preferred in California due to the influences of Native Americans and Mexican cuisine. California afterall was part of Mexico before the 1840s and Native American way before that, who of course grew corn here forever.

                  In this tradition, Masa (to make tortillas) pretty much always uses white corn, hence the light color of tortillas. Traditionally yellow corn was animal feed...and I believe it's harder to digest. (insert corn joke in pooh here...)

                  From a socio-scientific perspective, before processed foods and agri-biz, sweet, high sugar content corn (white) was harder to produce and come by and thus more of a delicacy.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: ML8000

                    I grew up in California and saw only yellow corn on the cob until the 1970s, when Silver Queen (su hybrid) became popular.

                    The contemporary popularity of white supersweet corn (se and sh2 hybrids) has nothing to do with the traditionof white field corn being used in Mexican cooking.

                    Corn's not native to California and was not part of the indigenous tribes' diet.

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      I grew up in Calif in farm country (before it became track homes). Family farmers grew both..and sold the yellow stuff at their stands and kept the white stuff, similar to the idea of "family oranges" or keepers (oranges w/ super high sugar content) that fell to the ground that growers kept. The hybrid stuff is true, came in huge seed bags that were referred to as "super corn" given it grew faster then heirloom varities.

                      1. re: ML8000

                        Some of the su hybrids were delicious. It's the later se and sh2 that taste like sweet lawn clippings.

                    2. re: ML8000

                      Mexican field corn (maiz) has NOTHING to do with "American" white sweet corn, as Robert noted. If you've ever been to México and eaten Mexican corn on the cob from the zillions of street vendors (boiled, slathered with crema—or mayo!—, powdered chile, grated queso, etc.) you would instantly appreciate the difference. In the last decade or so American corn growers have flooded the Mexican market with cheap, subsidized sweet corn—remember the "tortilla crisis" of a couple of years ago? Mexican farmers just cannot produce vast quantities of corn as cheaply as, for example, Iowa can. So Mexican tastes in corn are now becoming Americanized.

                      1. re: dlglidden

                        I should have mentioned that Mexican "street corn" is called "elote."

                    3. I agree with you completely!! After searching up and down the west bay this year, I found the best tasting yellow corn at Nob Hill Market in Redwood Shores. I got some decent yellow corn at Safeway, but I haven't seen it lately -- I bought yellow corn at Nob Hill last week. If you look at their website, they show some stores in the east bay, but none of them is really close to Berkeley. That's the best I've had, though.

                      1. I agree, too! I don't think the preferrence for white corn is particularly Californian -- considering all the national brands that promote white corn, I think it's just the general trend toward sweeter foods.

                        I asked a farmer at the farmers' market one day why he didn't have yellow corn, and he said that because corn cross-pollinates so easily, you can't grow white and yellow in adjacent areas, which creates problems for small farms. Since he has to choose, he chooses the more commercially viable white varieties. He agreed, btw, that yellow corn tastes more like corn.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                          Most of the corn I've tasted this summer has been yellow supersweet. I find it as nasty as the white supersweet.

                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                            gave up on store bought/farmers' market stuff last year. was forced to grow my own on a tiny 8'x8' plot. silver queen is an old stand-by that was easy to grow. random samples at restaurants, markets, etc. this year suggest I should do the same next year.

                        2. I lived in Iowa for 17 years (until 1997), and almost the only variety I ever saw in the last many years I lived there was that sugar-and-cream (white & yellow kernels together) variety. I rarely ever ran across the yellow-only variety.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Atomica

                            I lived in Illinois for 14 years until 2001. Almost all the corn grown in any of the fields around Chicago was field corn. Farmer's markets had the butter and sugar or sugar and cream varieties. The first years I lived there, the corn in the grocery stores was from Florida.

                          2. Jumping into this a bit late, but for what it is worth: I recently had a conversation with one of SFs leading chef/restraunteurs who told me that this year has been terrible for corn due to wet spring and cool summer. I complained about the super sweet white stuff (Robert's description is perfect) and she said that next year there will be plenty of yellow corn, weather allowing. It is making a comeback. The white stuff she thought was fine if used well, such as raw over salads. I want real corn taste however, such as I had growing up in Michigan. Went back there at the beginning of their corn harvesting this summer and saw only bi-color, but perhaps by August the real stuff was in unless they don't grow it anymore either. Time for heirloom corn!

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: alfairfax

                              I think I'll ask some farmers about contracting to grow heirloom varieties. Though cross-pollination might be a problem for that.

                            2. Firme has yellow corn today at the Berkeley farmers market. It's an su hybrid, which isn't as grossly sweet as the sh2 hybrids but still doesn't have all that much corn flavor compared with a heirloom varieties.

                              Market goes till 7pm. Info:

                              http://www.ecologycenter.org/bfm/

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                I bought a couple of ears Saturday, but my sister is here and haven't had time to cook it.

                              2. Had some yummy, not-so-sweet yellow corn from Andy's produce in Sebastopol (on 116 north). There were tired cobs on the top, but the ones in the back (and on the lower layers) were fresh and tasty; look for unwrinkled husks. 69 cents an ear, right next to the supersweet white (2 for a dollar). We were on a mission to get to Green Valley Chestnut farm before they closed so I didn't have time to chat up the produce staff to get the corn's genealogy.

                                1. A friend reports that she got some delicious red corn from Berkeley Bowl the other day. That's a new one on me.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                    I thought it was ok.
                                    http://www.chow.com/topics/346703

                                    It isn't sweet, but it doesn't have much corn flavor either. Then again I bought it in November and it was just like the old non-sweet corn that was available in supermarkets prior to the arrival of sweet corn ... not much flavor.

                                    If it is better this time of year, hope someone posts.

                                    Another post
                                    http://www.chow.com/topics/287484

                                    Of course almost every Mexican market in the area has dried red corn. Berkeley Bowl was the first time I saw it fresh.

                                  2. Adding Places mentioned in this thread:

                                    -----
                                    Berkeley Saturday Farmers' Market
                                    Center St and Milvia St, Berkeley, CA

                                    Andy's Produce Markets
                                    1691 Gravenstein Hwy S, Sebastopol, CA 95472

                                    Green Valley Chestnut Ranch
                                    11100 Green Valley Rd, Sebastopol, CA 95472

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: 5 and Dime Eater

                                      The Berkeley farmers market is in three different places on three different days:

                                      -----
                                      Berkeley Tuesday Farmers' Market
                                      Derby St, Berkeley, CA, USA

                                      Berkeley Thursday Farmers' Market
                                      Shattuck Ave, CA, USA, Shattuck Ave, CA

                                    2. We found good corn from Rainbow Grocery, white/yellow kind.

                                      1. Great yellow corn has arrived we just got some from Falleti Foods. Literally can be eaten raw so flavorful.
                                        http://www.fallettifoods.com/

                                        1. I have asked SafeWay many times about the corn problem. They mostly do not answer.
                                          The problem is that the younger people do not even know what real corn tastes like,
                                          All they know is the sweet white corn and sweet fake yellow corn.

                                          But what is really weird is you CAN get real yellow corn in the frozen food section, but only cobettes. Last year they had the full ears of real corn frozen.

                                          WE WANT REAL CORN !!! How loud can I say that??

                                          Many replies on this thread do not know what we are talking about.

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: donald branscom

                                            According to this 2009 article by Daniel Patterson of COI ... the answer is you can no longer get real corn because the seeds are no longer available. He's stopped serving corn at his restaurant
                                            http://coirestaurant.com/fed-up-with-...

                                            "Corn today is so sweet that it overpowers or undermines everything it accompanies, while lacking one key component: corn flavor.

                                            This year, I’m throwing in the towel: No more corn on the menu. I’m tired of trying to create a balanced dish with an ingredient that tastes like it’s been impregnated with simple syrup. And I’m disgusted that the industrial seed companies bet—correctly, as it turns out—on Americans’ appetite for sweet, monolithic flavors with no subtlety, in the process ruining an extraordinary vegetable. "

                                            Interesting statement in that article that corn today becomes sweeter after it’s picked and stored. Well, no more rushing back from the farm to cook the corn, I guess.

                                            It is odd that with the popularity of heirloom vegetables, corn isn't one of them. Why isn't Slow Foods stepping up to this one?

                                            1. re: rworange

                                              You can also grow your own.....

                                              http://www.victoryseeds.com/catalog/v...

                                              1. re: rworange

                                                Both open pollinated and su hybrid sweet corn seeds are readily available. Most seed catalogs I have seen list several varieties along with the supersweet stinkers. Daniel Patterson massively overstated the situation because his grower had one variety discontinued. He clearly is no authority on seeds or growing corn. Slow Foods isn't stepping up on this one because the seeds are readily available for home or commercial growers who want them. How well some of these varieties would grow in California is another question, but they grow on the Corn Belt.

                                                Green giant's shoepeg frozen corn uses an open pollinated variety also know as Country Gentleman and is considered an heirloom variety by almost any definition.

                                            2. I get my yellow corn at Market Hall Produce - in Rockridge. It's always on ice.

                                              -----
                                              Market Hall Produce
                                              5655 College Ave, Rockridge, CA 94618

                                              1. There's a vendor who sells at the San Mateo farmers market (Sat) and Belmont market (Sun). He doesn't always have yellow corn as it ripens less regularly than his white.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: Larry Stein

                                                  Lucky's in the El Cerrito Plaza (524-7282) often has real yellow corn. Last time I was there it was on special 5/$1!

                                                  -----
                                                  El Cerrito Plaza
                                                  San Pablo Ave and Fairmount Ave, El Cerrito, CA

                                                  1. re: sydthekyd

                                                    I think somewhere here the line is getting crossed and tasteless, old supermarket corn is being identified as real yellow corn. While I know at times Lucky's and other markets have corn in husk, I think the reason it is not super sweet is because it was picked days before and the sugar has turned to starch.

                                                2. I bought some good yellow corn at Sigona's in Redwood City -- nice large ears that were sweet, but not too sweet. They actually tasted like corn rather than sugar.

                                                  --NancyB

                                                  8 Replies
                                                  1. re: Nancy Berry

                                                    Similar find at Berkeley Bowl this week. Big ears, sweet but not cloying, corny flavor. Maybe the pendulum is swinging the other way?

                                                    -----
                                                    Berkeley Bowl
                                                    2020 Oregon St, Berkeley, CA 94703

                                                    1. re: ernie in berkeley

                                                      Got some today at SIgnona's in Redwood City - of course it costs twice as much as the white
                                                      3 ears for $2 for yellow
                                                      3 ears for $1 for white

                                                      But we bought the yellow - not a big white corn fan - very fresh and delicious...even raw

                                                      -----
                                                      Sigona's Farmers Market
                                                      2345 Middlefield Rd, Redwood City, CA

                                                      1. re: ernie in berkeley

                                                        Safeway had a big ad in the Chronicle yesterday advertising fresh Brentwood corn, both yellow and white, for 18¢ an ear.

                                                        1. re: dlglidden

                                                          Well Lucky's has it for 16¢ but I doubt that either represents the "good" corn the folks above are talking about. When visiting in Philly a farmers market featured corn from New Jersey. Must be as important an appellation as Brentwood.

                                                          1. re: wolfe

                                                            could be, though in Philly it probably wouldn't be the good stuff if you could get it this time of year. Every time we drive by corn fields here in Merced (and for me, that's daily, on my four-minute 'commute- route to work), hubby, who grew up in Central PA, comments that he guesses the old saying from his home town, 'knee high by the Fourth of July' (harvested in August) doesn't apply in California...

                                                            which is all a sort of long way of saying that good yellow corn is fairly easy to come by here in the Central Valley. The small farmstand near my house has it (grown on their small farm four blocks from me). The farmer's market also has it. The stuff at Raley's however, is not the good stuff, even though I am seeing yellow more often than last year.

                                                            1. re: susancinsf

                                                              I said something similar in this thread last year, but will say it again in a slightly different way: finding yellow corn is not nearly so much a challenge as finding any corn at all that has been iced down immediately after being picked and kept that way until it's sold. Given the choice between yellow and white, I'll always take yellow, but given the choice between white corn that's been properly handled and yellow corn that's been sitting around without refrigeration, I'll take the white in a second.

                                                              I've come to the conclusion that the only way to buy corn is to wait until you find it chilled with bright green husks and silks that haven't yet turned brown. I also look at the cut where it's been removed from the plant. If the corn is really fresh the cut won't yet have hardened.

                                                              1. re: TopoTail

                                                                While freshness is not as crucial as it was before today's sweeter hybrids, which convert sugar to starch more slowly, it's still worth finding a place where the corn was picked hours, not days, ago. If you live in the South Bay, there is the Corn Palace, on Lawrence Expy between El Camino Real and Centra Expy.

                                                                It was run for many many decades by Ben and Joe Francia. Joe died a few years ago but Ben, who is about 90 now, is still there every day. They grow the corn, right there on Silicon Valley acreage, adjacent to the stand. They sold half the acreage for housing this year; who knows how long it will be there? But it's there now -- http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&s...

                                                          2. re: dlglidden

                                                            Some Safeway stores will stock the yellow but in general I find that they only have the white...

                                                            Managed to get some yellow at Lucky/Woodside Plaza/Redwood City today (5/1.00). I had to ask a produce guy if they had any yellow as all that was out was white even though their add this week was white & yellow. He said he had it in the back and he would get it for me. I should have asked him why they didn't have it out on the floor. How can you sell it if you don't put it out?

                                                      2. If color is the only criteria then Costco has lovely ears of yellow corn in a 8 pack for about $.75 an ear. Sorry can't speak to the "goodness."

                                                        1. The Brentwood corn guys at the Saturday College of San Mateo Farmers Market sometimes sell very good yellow corn. This past Saturday they had excellent bi-color corn that was about 75% yellow -- it was the Peaches and Cream variety and it is sweet (not as sweet as that yucky white corn) but also tastes like corn.

                                                          --NancyB

                                                          -----
                                                          College of San Mateo
                                                          1700 W Hillsdale Blvd, San Mateo, CA

                                                          1. Just popping in on this interesting thread to add two points:

                                                            1. it's the same problem in the northeast ( http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/866827

                                                            )

                                                            2. The white/yellow corn is a false distinction. Over here, most corn is yellow, and it's disgustingly sweet and flavorless. There are good heirloom varieties in both white and yellow, and terrible cloying ones in both, as well.