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How to get fresh corn that tastes more like corn than young HFS ?

  • w

At my local farmers' markets there seems to be a race for the sweetest corn at the expense of flavor. At this point the ears are sweeter and as satisfying as Frosted Flakes. Does anyone know who sells corn varieties that emphasize flavor? What are the names of these varieties? Am I the only one who thinks this way about corn?

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  1. No, Wew, you are NOT the only one. I asked this exact question a couple of years ago on the Quebec board (IIRC) and I never did manage to find any corn that tasted of what corn used to taste like (and jeebus, I'm 30, it's not like I'm hearkening back to the good ol' days of the depression or something). Corn used to be a deep yellow and taste of...corn. Now it tastes of sugar, sugar and more sugar. I would do almost anything to locate a type that still tasted of corn.

    Can't wait to hear if anyone has any ideas on this...

    1. I've noticed this as well, and you're certainly not alone. But unless you know the type of corn and how it's designated botanically, you won't know the flavor profile. When you buy seeds, they usually have a designation next to the name, like SE (sugary enhanced) or SH2 (Super Sweet) or the like, if I'm recalling correctly. (Have to look this up.) Each has a different level of sweetness.

      Problem is, there are dozens (hundreds?) of varieties grown commercially and you'd probably have to carry a notebook with you ever time you went shopping... assuming the seller actually listed the correct variety at every market.

      Here's a list of types. If you can find the variety at the markets, try to stick to the "su" types.


      Of course the risk you run here is that these older varieties tend to turn starchy very quickly and result in corn that is about as much fun as eating a raw potato...

      1 Reply
      1. re: acgold7

        Thanks for the info and link. I will check it out. At this point, all I know is that the corn I ate as a child (in western Canada) was yellow and, compared to today's corn, a lot less sweet. It wasn't specially sought out by my parent's, it was just what was at the grocery store during corn season, so I doubt it was an obscure variety, it was probably the most common one at the time. I *do* remember that it would get starchy very fast, as mentioned. (the starchiness did not stop me gobbling it)

        It's corn season right now, no? I might hit the Jean Talon Market here and see if I can find any less sweet varieties.

      2. I think I'm an exception as I love super sweet corn. Sweet, salt, butter.. I love it. That said, the OP might want to try to find Mirai corn. Very corny, not so sweet.

          1. If I could get bottled HFCS, I would.

            But, no, I don't ever get the sensation that fresh corn tastes like sugar, or HFCS.

            1. You can always get flint/Indian corn, but I think that's a case of, "be careful what you wish for." Without the sweetness it'd be like eating plain popcorn, since it doesn't have a strong flavor.

              Info and seeds at:

              3 Replies
              1. re: ediblover

                But ediblover, there are, or at least used to be, varieties that were far from flint, yet far from super sweet. Varieties that tasted like corn, with a bit of sweetness. I think that's what so many of us miss. Sweet corn, as opposed to super sweet corn.

                1. re: debbiel

                  Right, we're longing for that balance of sweet fresh summer taste with that real corn hit. Now the preference seems to be for sweet and nothing else. I don't think anyone is saying they want to eat corn meal.

                  1. re: debbiel

                    I'm showing my age but as a child we grew Illini, Iochief and Golden Bantam. I also think that most commercial sweet corn has had the flavor bred out of it for shipping ability and sweetness.

                2. In my area, where a fair amount of corn is grown, it's still hard to find anything but the egregious white corn. Most of the yellow grown corn grown nowadays is modern supersweet varieties, not only because it's easy to sell sweet, but because they resist the breakdown of sugars that corn, especially yellow, start as soon as they are picked. So, good old ease of storage and transport- the old varieties are probably forever relegated to enthusiasts at the farmer's market.

                  1 Reply
                  1. You are not alone. I miss the sweet corn of my youth. We could get a few dozen ears for $1 on Saturday mornings. We husked and boiled immediately when we got it home, so that there was still some sweetness left to it. It was such a great balance of sweet and corn flavor. Nowadays, the farmers market is overrun with supersweet varieties. It's an issue I'm actually going to bring up in the end of season survey for our CSA. Please, oh please, a corn variety that tastes of corn.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: debbiel

                      'Country gentleman', 'silver queen' and 'golden bantam' are really good old-fashioned sweetcorn varieties

                    2. Damned internet making me lazy and useless. This always happens. I learn enough to start a search for a thing on Chowhound, but I do not get the *exact* (i.e. "this vendor sell's X product at this exact spot at this exact time") info and then I give up.

                      I am determined to ask around at the market when I go next, for tomatoes. It's been so long since I tasted the corn-flavoured corn that to eat it now would almost certainly be Proustian and dreamy.