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What to Do with Sweet--Maybe Too Sweet--Fresh Corn

Somehow, after this morning's visit to the farmers' market, we found ourselves with 24 ears of very corn (12 Brentwood , 12 from somewhere else). We've just eaten a few of the Brentwood ears, and have had a rather odd experience. First bite or two: " WOW! That is the sweetest corn I've ever had." After a quarter of the ear, the sweetness palls, and i am left searching in vain for some kind of corn flavor. By the time I'm halfway done, I can't really taste anything and I'm just trying to finish the rest of the ear.

What happened? Did my tastebuds give out? (I can eat vast quantitites of dessert and enjoy the last cake crumb as much as the first.)

And what would be a good use for this very sweet, but tasteless, corn?

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  1. Remove kernels, boil the cobs to make a corn stock base. Add kernels back and simmer till tender.Remove cobs & Puree w/ an immersion blender and then strain through a sieve. Add S&P and a touch of heavy cream and a few reserved kernels of fresh corn. Best corn soup ever!!

    7 Replies
      1. re: adamshoe

        That sounds so good! Thank you! Maybe I'll throw in a small leek with the corn cobs to add more flavor, and drizzle some truffle oil at the end. . .

        1. re: pilinut

          It's become nearly impossible to find fresh corn that's not of the supersweet or candy variety. When I ask for it at the outdoor markets, the farmers' look at me like I'm crazy. One of my August staples used to be cold corn soup: summer in a bowl. Last time I made it was with sweet corn -- the least sweet I could find, but it still tasted like dessert.

          The only successful treatment I've found for the stuff is to grill it on the cob then drizzle with fresh lime juice and sprinkle with a mixture of sea salt and cayenne. The grilling caramelizes some of the sugar, the smokiness hides it, the lime juice cuts it and the salt counterbalances it.

        2. re: adamshoe

          Adam, I incorporated your cob-boiling idea into the following recipe. I only boiled two of the cobs, but I'm sure I got a little extra corny goodness into the chowder by doing so. Kind of a neat technique with grating the corn and onion (even though toward the end, the onion made me cry). My only very small deviations--I used one large Idaho potato instead of 6 new potatoes...and I added some cinnamon basil for a little something extra. I did not measure 3 cups of kernels--I used six very robust ears of native corn. Yum, yum, yum!
          Corn Chowder - Fresh and Sweet:

          1. re: adamshoe

            I made this soup today with some less than perfect corn and it was stellar. Thanks Adamshoe!

            The larger problem tho' is the fact that corn has indeed become overly sweet and so many varieties have been displaced by these super sweet varieties that are hybidized for shipping/longevity etc. waaaaa . . . miss the old corn :-(

            1. re: adamshoe

              p.s. the corn cob broth base is super for corn chowders and so forth . . . have been doing it for years . . . if you run the back of your knife down the length of the cob, while holding it over the pot, milky bits fall into the water giving it a jump start.

              1. re: adamshoe

                adamshoe, I hope you're still around as I don't see your name much these days. Remembering your cob boiling tip from last year, I tried a different recipe, but used that same idea...so good! And as native corn is in season, what better time to bump this thread and remind them to boil their cobs. to make corn soups/chowders even better.

                Here is my stab at it. Never had corn chowder with peppers before--nom nom nom! I liked the little bit of cilantro, too (though you could obviously sub parsley or even basil if you're a hater)...enough to make it different, but not completely punch ya in the nose!

              2. Cook it in crab boil ---- If ya threw in a few shrimp....I don't think anyone would mind.


                1. Welcome to the American table, where sweeter is better. As far as I can tell, it's impossible to buy corn that tastes like corn and not candy in the U.S. these days. Let's all give thanks to GM corn.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: pikawicca

                    Try the corn grown in Iowa in the winter.

                  2. how about some sweet corn ice cream or a corn crap soup?

                    or a corn relish - the vinegar would hopefully balance out the sweetness, and you can adjust the amount of sugar down. there's a great recipe in the au pied de cochon cook book.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: lschow

                      Corn crap soup????????? That's new.

                      Maybe the OP's tastebuds did give out, hard to say. Never had a local ear of corn I got sick of.

                      1. re: Phurstluv

                        I'm thinking maybe that was meant to read corn crab soup but I hope Phursluv clarifies

                        1. re: Phurstluv

                          oops! yes, i meant corn crab soup!

                          guess i should take "attention to detail" off of my resume :)

                      2. What about a salsa with corn? Or maybe even a yummy black bean and corn soup in the crockpot (so the kitchen doesn't get to hot) or a corn chowder on the stove. You could even make a southwest salad. =)
                        Some ideas:


                        http://www.chow.com/recipes/11824 (this is one from a chow user that I found, looks very good, but maybe a bit less olive oil? Most corn salad recipes are very adaptable

                        http://www.ochef.com/r269.htm (this one is from cook illustrated, and I have gotten some of my best soup recipes from their cookbook)

                        1. I prefer a real almost starchy corn taste and that sweet stuff does not work for me, but it is everywhere. Rubbed with salt, garlic powder, pepper and a bit of olive oil or butter and then thrown on the grill it can concentrate the flavor a bit. I planted corn this year and even though the conditions were poor and the ears have maybe 5" of kernels on them, they taste like corn- simply boiled for a few minutes in a bit of salted water- so good!

                          1. I would just love to eat that raw, probably. but if you want to process it in some way, how about sweet corn ice cream? i've used and liked this recipe:


                            corn pudding is also wonderful. haven't tried this particular recipe, but like the way it looks:


                            and one of our dinner staples in the summertime is corn salad like so ('cept i make mine without red cabbage):


                            (the ratio of corn in this recipe is pretty low. you could probably double it and be fine.)

                            finally, thai corn fritters are great. i only have gluten free recipes, but there are plenty of ones that use wheat flour out there online.

                            1. wow, i'm sitting here in eastern iowa mouth agape. i've never been plagued by corn that's too sweet. insofar as sweetness is a problem, hold the corn a day before cooking. the sugar degrades rather quickly and will soon become starch. this is, of course, the opposite of the advice i grew up with--cook promptly to avoid the inevitable degradation of sugar.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: silverhawk

                                I knew an Iowan would know what to do!! ;)

                              2. I kind of like the sugar enhanced corn rather than the supersweet corn for the reasons you mention. Also, I think the texture of the supersweet is sometimes not as good.

                                I loved the idea of using the cobs and then putting the kernals in that stock to make soup. And will remember that one for extra corn.

                                1. Sounds like you got supersweet. I'm with you...it's too sweet to me. Much prefer the cornier tasting "sweet corn" my dad and other relatives and friends grew. But supersweet seems to be the norm now. Two things I do with it that seems to cut the sweetness.

                                  1. As someone else mentioned, grill it. To my tastebuds, it's less sweet than an ear from the same batch boiled in water. THEN, I season it differently, inspired by the Mexican street corn served summers in the Red Hook Ballfields in Brooklyn, but not with all the stuff they add. (Search "Outer Boroughs" for discussion of the Ballfields.) Spritz with some fresh lime juice. Sprinkle with a bit dried chiles (New Mexican or Ancho, as they're readily available). Sometimes I'll use a little butter; mostly not.

                                  2. Inspired by Ina Garten. Cut the corn off the cob. Saute briefly in a little butter. Most often I'll season the butter with the aforementioned ground chiles. I've done it with chives. It's also delicious when sauteed with some finely diced jalapeno. Or chopped sweet peppers, if you're not into heat. If you like the lime bit, give the finished dish a squirt. Not being a food scientist, I can't explain what happens chemically. But it seems to concentrate the corn part of the flavor, while diminishing the sweetness.

                                    1. Naturally sweet corn, lucky you! I'd add the kernels to cornbread and cut back on the cane sugar/sweetner in your recipe.

                                      Corn with a heightened taste will stand up well in cold salads, grilled on the cob, added to baked goods or pancakes.

                                      So often corn is lackluster and easily flavor hidden in a recipe. Lucky you to have a flavorful bounty!

                                      1. cut the kernels off and make corn & cheese fritters, but mix in something spicy, like diced jalapenos.

                                        grill and dress with chili butter and lime

                                        make corn bread.

                                        corn/black bean/cilantro salsa

                                        1. http://www.oneforthetable.com/oftt/sa...

                                          This cold lobster salad would be a delicious use for the corn, too!

                                          1. We always buy Brentwood corn, but at the small stands in Brentwood.
                                            I've always had a terrific experience with both white and yellow, in fact we look forward to he harvest every year. I can only think that with the early hot summer we've had, and so many 100 degree temps, that has something to do with it.

                                            Too sweet, take it off the cob and saute it in butter and salt and pepper and a couple cloves of smooshed up garlic. Pass a little lime over it all and the top with fresh cilantro. Might help/

                                            If that doesn't work, perhaps you could use it in cornbread?

                                            1. You can always make a more savory compound butter to go with it. That might balance the sweet a little bit. Good luck!

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: Soonergurl

                                                That's what I was thinking, try the mint-feta butter in this month's gourmet issue. Or, slather a grilled cob with mayo, queso fresco (mexican crumbling cheese) & chili powder with a squirt of lime juice. That ought to cut some sweetness!!

                                              2. I think it sounds like a nice blank base for a spicy corn chowder. Got any red poblanos or the like? A delicious pork product? Beer?

                                                1. Make scalloped corn: Scrape or cut the kernels off, making sure to catch all the juice. When I just have an ear or two of leftover cooked corn, I mix the cut kernels with a can of cream-style corn. If I were cutting from several uncooked ears, I would do the opposite and blend in some decent whole-kernel canned corn. Then beat in an egg or two, and salt and pepper to taste. Lay a layer of cracker crumbs in a baking dish, pour in the corn, top with more crumbs. Dot with butter, more salt and pepper, and bake until it firms up to your satisfaction, this being a dish that really is edible at every stage. This is a nice side dish, especially alongside some good savory green beans. Of course you can also bag up the scraped corn and freeze it until it's more like savory-side-dish weather!

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: Will Owen

                                                    Thanks, Will! I've always wondered what scalloped corn was. I've been making corn flan, and scalloped corn would be a nice change.

                                                  2. Make corn tea ...

                                                    Oksusu cha - Corn Tea

                                                    A popular drink served either hot or iced with Korean meals.



                                                    Remove husk and silk from corn, rinse well in cold water, then blanch..

                                                    Water Blanch:
                                                    Bring a pot of water to a full boil, add corn, and boil for about 1 and 1/2 minutes.

                                                    Steam Blanch:
                                                    Place fresh corn in a steamer and steam for about 2 and 1/2 minutes (until corn milk no longer oozes from a cut kernel).

                                                    Rinse blanched corn in cold water.
                                                    Cut kernels from cob and spread evenly in a shallow baking pan or dehydrator rack.

                                                    Oven Dry:
                                                    Place pan in oven at low heat for two to three hours until kernals are dry and brittle.

                                                    Place in dehydrator for 6 to 10 hours until kernals are dry and brittle.

                                                    Place dried corn into a grinder/food processor and pulse a couple of times until kernels are roughly chopped.
                                                    Store cracked corn in a cool dry place until use.

                                                    Making Tea:

                                                    Bring water to a boil and pour over a small amount of the dried corn. Allow to steep several minutes before straining and drinking.

                                                    Stronger Tea:
                                                    Place dried corn into a small pot, add water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for three to five minutes. Strain into cup or larger container.

                                                    Start with 1 teaspoon dried corn to 1 cup of water, adjusting to personal taste.
                                                    Try grilling the corn instead of blanching before drying it.

                                                    1. Look for old time corn, heritage breeds, or Golden Bantam family. There are a few growers.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: jayt90

                                                        this is a fine idea....if (and this is a big "if")...you can cook and eat the corn the day it was picked. traditional sweet corn isn't well suited to supermarket distribution channels. it doesn't keep worth a darn since the natural sugars start degrading to starch as soon as the ear is picked. (when i was young we used to put the corn water on the stove before going out to the garden to pick corn.) old-timey corn needs to be purchased directly from the grower or from a vendor who gets corn daily.

                                                        i assume the hypersweet corn that folks dislike is tailored to whomp up the sugar level so that the corn is still sweet a day or two later even though the transformation of sugar to starch will have been at work. that is, i assume it is designed to be purchased in a store and not from the farmer.

                                                      2. Corn Avocado Salad

                                                        ¼ C lime juice
                                                        1 T red wine vinegar
                                                        1 T Olive Oil
                                                        1 ½ t salt
                                                        ½ t. pepper
                                                        ¼ t ground cumin
                                                        1/8 t cayene
                                                        1 bag frozen corn
                                                        1 red bell pepper – seeded and diced
                                                        ½ C. red onion - diced
                                                        ¼ C Cilantro – finely chopped
                                                        3 firm, ripe avocados – pittled and cut into 1” chunks

                                                        1. In a large bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup lime juice, 1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar, 1 Tablespoon olive oil, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin, and 1/8 teaspoon cayenne.
                                                        2. Rinse corn under cold water until thawed. Add to bowl and mix gently.
                                                        3. Add bell pepper, 1/2 cup red onion, and 1/4 cup chopped cilantro to bowl; stir into dressing.
                                                        4. Add avocado to bowl and gently mix, taking care not to smash the avocado too much.
                                                        5. Garnish with a few Cilantro leaves.
                                                        6. Chill or serve immediately.

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: normalheightsfoodie

                                                          So yummy! ;) Anything with avocados is delicious!

                                                        2. I love sweet corn sauteed with soy sauce - maybe some mushrooms and green bell pepper too - the sweet and salty does it for me!

                                                          1. This sounds like perfect stuff for cornbread made with buttermilk, and maybe some chiles.

                                                            I second the poster who recommends the Red Hook ball fields approach: grill it, brush on some softened butter, dust on some finely crumbled cotija cheese, followed by some chile powder and a spritz of lime. Put that on a stick and you have an amazing summer treat.