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Should Corn on the Cob just heated or does it need to be cooked?

I recently ate BBQ at a Nor Cal Farmers house who grew several acres of corn.

He and his wife were quite adamant that good corn just needed to be heated though and not "cooked"
and certainly never boiled.

They just simmered their corn for 10 minutes.

It was of course was the best corn on the cob I have ever had...by far.

Plus you did not have to wait for it to cool down to eat it.

It was Fantastic!

What do you Chowhounders think?

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  1. Simmered 10 minutes? Sounds cooked to me.
    A quick check of corn-on-the-cob recipes showed boiling times ranging from 5 to 10 minutes.
    Since simmering is just a few degrees below boiling, 10 minutes simmered should equal more than 5 minutes boiling, or am I missing something?.

    1. um.... simmered for 10 minutes IS cooked corn, lol.

      i have had corn fresh off the stalk and it's edible, but heat/steam definitely unlocks the starch and sugars and makes it so much better.

      i usually steam it for under 10 minutes, but the stuff we cook is picked that day. we only eat corn local and in-season, from a few farms. nothing like supermarket corn which we don't ever buy anymore.

      1. Hold on a minute; gotta get control of this uncontrollable laughing about your dinner host's statement .....
        "They just simmered their corn for 10 minutes."?
        That's cooking .... perhaps not lengthy cooking, and perhaps cooking at a lower temperature than a full rolling boil (simmer usually runs between 185 and 195 degrees) but cooking nonetheless. I agree that over cooking corn is (or should be) a sin and that all too often corn is cooked so long it becomes disgusting (ever had that stuff at the fried chicken place with mashed potatoes and a biscuit?)
        A number of years ago I found that an ear of corn wrapped in waxed paper and heated in the microwave on high for about 2 - 2 1/2 minutes produced a nearly perfect result every time. Because I usually cook for two I routinely use two ears and 4 - 5 minutes.

        3 Replies
        1. re: todao

          I love the micro method too, todao - and do it all the time. We've got supersweeeeeeeet white corn hitting the stores, and I've been using raw kernels in tons of different salads.

          1. re: mamachef

            If I don't do corn on the grill I do it in the nuculator. I just toss it in there a couple minutes an ear. Shuck and all.


            1. re: mamachef

              So do I. I like that I can add seasonings and have piping hot corn on the cob in 2 minutes.

          2. When it's that fresh it doesn't even need the 10 minutes if it's the right variety. Unfortunately the conversion of sugar to starch happens very quickly once the corn is off the stalk. I've seen estimates of 50% sugar loss in just a few hours. That sounds high to me but it's in that kind of neighborhood.

            So I'd say that your farmer friend is right as regards his corn on his farm in his kitchen. Take that same dozen ears home and refrigerate them until tomorrow, however, and you're not even going to be happy boiling it; you'll want to grill or broil it to coax out the sugars that remain.

            4 Replies
            1. re: nokitchen

              this is ONLY for the "picked fresh that day" variety. they grow a different variety for supermarkets, generally, and it has a lower sugar loss, from what I understand.

              1. re: Chowrin

                You're quite right, of course. I referenced the "right variety" but I should have made it more clear that that variety (or those varieties) are what you might find at a farmer's market or from the farmer directly as opposed to one's grocery store, which are as different from farmer's market corn as it is from feed corn. Thanks for sharpening my answer. :-)

                1. re: Chowrin

                  Actually, at least here in the Northeast, farmstands and farmers' markets haven't featured old-fashion sweet corn varieties in at least 15 years: all the varieties grown and sold as sweet form are enhanced in some way so that the sugar conversion process is no longer the rapid-fire thing of the past. Some varieties are a bit faster than others, but it's nothing like corn of 40+ years ago.

                2. re: nokitchen

                  Where's the "like" button on this thing? :)

                3. Yeah- 10 minutes is cooking..... maybe overcooking for good fresh corn.

                  Just for the record, I soak the corn, in the husk in cool water, for 15 minutes or so, then grill it. It steams in the husk, for about 7 minutes, and it's wonderful- no simmering for 10 minutes.

                  Peel back the husks for a tidy handle.

                  1. I eat raw corn all the time, it's great! I don't generally eat it on the cob though, I just cut the kernels off.

                    1. Didn't we just have this discussion?

                      I could've sworn we did ... Why, why, yes we did! http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/861874

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: ipsedixit

                        Why, why, Ipse!! Look how your memory is improving! (uncontrollable laughter. :)

                      2. At 10 mins. in simmering water, that corn was absolutely cooked, not "warmed." Interesting choice of words, though. IMO, 10 minutes is TOO long for corn that has been freshly-picked, de-silked and shucked. I have friends who have acres of the stuff and their method is for her to put the pot on and wait for him to get back, so that she can IMMEDIATELY get that corn into the (boiling, salted) water, for not more than 2-3 minutes, and that is absolutely the very best fresh corn I've ever had. That's because he's adamant about not eating corn that has begun starch conversion. Whatever the reason, I sure am glad I got to eat it.

                        1. That corn was cooked. If heat or anything causing a chemical reaction that passed the corn from one state (raw) to another (cooked), it's cooking.

                          I have cooked cob corn year-round. In warm, dry weather, I grill it whenever possible. In wet or cold weather, I cook it in the oven. I always shuck it, put on a little butter, and wrap it in the non-stick side of aluminum foil and just let it roast. On the grill, I turn it or keep it on the upper shelf so it doesn't burn while I'm cooking on the lower grates for about 15 mins. In the oven, I just put it in on 400-425 and let it cook for about 30 mins turning it only once halfway through. If I want a smoky flavor, I lightly dust it with smoked paprika. Don't worry about the oven temp - I've never had it burn or dry out.

                          Turns out sweet, juicy, and perfect every time.

                          I don't boil corn because I usually just let it cook as mentioned while something else is cooking.

                          1. I just husked and ate an ear of corn (bought at farmers' mkt yesterday). Honestly, I've yet to apply any heat to corn on the cob this summer. I just eat it raw as a snack, because the corn is crisp and juicy right now, and the white corn is candy-sweet - almost too sweet for savory applications.

                            1. Best corn we've ever had: steamed for 4 or 5 min. Put 1 inch water in bottom of pan then add corn when boiling, cover & time it.

                              Also it uses less power or gas.

                              1. When the corn is really fresh, I will eat it raw or if I want it heated, I'll steam it for a couple of minutes. If the corn is good, cooking just isn't necessary.


                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Burghfeeder

                                  Because I am sensitive to sweet things (I don't like purely sweet things, but prefer a balance of tart, salty and sweet), I tend to like raw corn only in salads with an acidic dressing. But, now that I think about it, I could probably eat raw corn with a dressing of lime juice and salt and black pepper....

                                2. I steam mine in the microwave - shuck it, wrap it in a wet paper towel, nuke for 2 min. Comes out perfect every time - still crisp & juicy (if the ear is fresh), but def. not raw.