HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >


Corn on the cob TOO sweet!

  • 87
  • Share

Corn on the cob used to be a summer obsession and binge fodder for me. But now it's gotten too sweet, and I just don't enjoy it the way I used to. Anyone else feel this way? Anything I can do to help this problem? Maybe there's a particular type I should look for, or a particular vendor? I usually buy it at Whole Foods, sometimes Shaws.

I like it very plain: steamed with butter, salt, and pepper. I don't like to add other flavors, like chili or anything. But maybe I need to consider this option to ameliorate the sweetness? By the way, I don't own a grill, so that's not an option.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Posting Guidelines | FAQs | Feedback
  1. You could move to a country where most corn isn't gmo

    15 Replies
    1. re: hargau

      I wish!

      1. re: hargau

        You have no idea if the corn in question is gmo.

        To the OP...it's called "sweet" corn for a reason...

        1. re: JayL

          Well, sweet corn is much, much sweeter nowadays than it was when I was a kid (I'm in my 40s). Today it's tough to find (here at least) varieties other than the supersweet varieties. And it annoys me. I miss the taste of corn in sweet corn.

          1. re: debbiel

            I'm in my 50's and don't find it any sweeter, but then we grew our own early corn and supersweet varieties in our gardens, so I was raised on it. I think you're probably right - you may remember 'standard' corn (yes, there's a set of corn varieties really called that) and what you're probably finding in the stores are all supersweets. You might try finding an urban farm or CSA that offers more varieties.

        2. re: hargau

          If you buy organic corn, by definition, it won't be GMO.

          1. re: dkenworthy

            Organic means that chemical pesticides and fertilizers are not used. nothing i've seen states that it means it's not GMO.


            1. re: jujuthomas

              Go to this link. Certified organic production does not allow GMO.


              1. re: jujuthomas

                Yes, no GMOs are part of the organic deal......

              2. re: dkenworthy

                All sweet corn by definition IS a GMO.. if your are talking chemically engineered or round up ready (Monsanto) then okay.. but GMO stands for genetically altered.. sweetcorn is a cross breed which has been genetically altered from its original breed by crossing pollens with another breed of corn.. so many people would do some great good by visiting a local farmer and learning the truths about what GMO is and means I stead of spreading Internet propaganda.. Learning the difference between GMO and Monsanto would be a great thing

                1. re: nspear1176

                  Uhhh you've got your terms crossed. ALL modern food crops have been intentionally bred to improve them from the original found in nature... You probably wouldn't want to eat teosinte from which corn was derived.

                  They are NOT GMO, nor are most supersweet varieties which are hybrids (look up the term on Wikipedia if you need the definition).

                  The difference between traditional selective breeding, hybrid or otherwise and genetically modified is significant even if actual GMO food crops are not necessarily dangerous.

                  GMO means that individual genes were modified and inserted into the organism in question. Genetic modification is done in a lab, selective breeding, hybrid or otherwise is not, though very recently (last 10 years or so) some lab-based techniques have been used to accelerate identification of desireable traits which are then bred traditionally. Whew.

                  1. re: StriperGuy

                    Being from a farming family I can assure that you have your terms mixed up.. and if you believe any info from Wikipedia than I question your knowledge. . Anyone can submit info to Wikipedia. . I can go change it now ;) what you are describing is Genetically Engineered.. genetically modified (GMO) is anything that has modified.. engineered is a completely other subject.. so many people are misguided on what a GMO is.. the term is very basic ;)

                    1. re: nspear1176

                      Actually, I believe the wikipedia definition is yours, not StriperGuy's. But I agree with you that one should not rely on wikipedia here.

                      GMO means, to most everyone I have ever had a discussion with about GMOs, what StriperGuy suggests it means. If you're for expanding GMOs, it's a good idea to try to pretend it is not something new, that it is just like open pollination or hybridization. But it's not.

                      1. re: nspear1176

                        I work in biotech, you are WAY off base any accepted definition of GMO. Do some homework. Read a genetics text book rather than Wikipedia if that makes you feel better, but you have no idea what you are talking about

                2. re: hargau

                  The sweet Olathe corn I get here in Colorado isn't GMO, but it is still sweet.

                  1. re: juliejulez

                    Olathe corn is the best I have ever had. Makes me miss Colorado. (The lamb, also..)

                3. Not sure where you live but have tried any of the local corn? I am on the South Shore and the corn around here has been awesome. Sweet but corn sweet, not candy sweet. I think the kind my local farm grows is silver queen.

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: foodieX2

                    I buy only local. I never buy it except in July and August when it's in season HERE. I'll look for the silver queen. Thanks!

                    1. re: LunarPrimate

                      The Silver Queen is one of my faves for the very reason beings discussed here and is a very good option, but there are other varieties that are not bi color and sickeningly sweet. Some farms have developed their own varieties, and our go to is Ward's Berry Farm in Sharon near Rt 95 if you can get there. Google it. I'm fairly close so it's a no brainer, we never buy supermarket corn just from farms and FMs.

                      1. re: Ora Moose

                        Btw, "Silver Queen" has become a shorthand for local farmstands to mean "white corn" generically rather than the Silver Queen hybrid (which, btw, is NOT an heirloom variety) specifically. You can end up with all-white supersweet hybrids sold under that generic usage. Just a word to the wise....

                        1. re: Ora Moose

                          I used to see a lot of corn labeled as Silver Queen at the farm stands, but not so much any more. Maybe it was a generic term for very sweet corn?

                          1. re: CindyJ

                            Sliver Queen is a specific breed of corn, apparently it's just not as popular as it used to be. It's too bad because from what I remember, it was nicely sweet, but not too much, with a tender kernel.

                        2. re: LunarPrimate

                          If you are buying it from supermarkets (even WF), it probably isn't local. And corn coming from even a moderate distance (say, NJ or GA) is more likely to be a super sweet type, so that it will retain its sweetness during shipping and stocking in stores. Your best bet is to get to a farmstand and get some freshly picked, local corn. I've had some terrific ones this season so far from Wilson Farms i Lexington, and Berberian Farms in Northborough.

                          1. re: Science Chick

                            MB tends to source locally for sweet corn in season, FWIW. They just don't advertize that fact.

                      2. I would advise not adding sugar to your water.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                          **gasp** Never!

                          1. re: LunarPrimate

                            A requirement for the field corn we would "acquire" on the way home from the Niles 31 Drive-in in Michigan.

                            Another bit of instruction from my grandmother.

                        2. Thought I was the only one in the us complains about corn too sweet! I am growing my own.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: oleeami

                            Local corn is the best; forget about the supermarket's corn. Best if you grow it your own though.

                          2. Corn tastes different than it used to. Even if it is going to starch, it can still be sweet. I doubt sweet corn is GMO, but probably is some hybrid that allows the kernels to remain sweet even after they began to turn to starch.

                            And corn really tastes different in the PNW. I really prefer midwestern grown sweet corn.

                            13 Replies
                            1. re: sueatmo

                              Are you sure? I have read that over 90% of corn in the usa is GMO this includes seed which local farms may or may not be using..

                              1. re: hargau

                                That is corn grown for grain, not sweet corn.

                                Most modern sweet corn is highbred, supersweet varieties that stay sweet longer than the corn from say 40 years ago, but they are not GMO.

                                1. re: StriperGuy

                                  There is definitely GMO sweet corn on the market. Monsanto touts it highly.

                                  How much of it is GMO? Opinions differ.


                                  1. re: C. Hamster

                                    Wow, that is recent. I stand corrected.

                                    1. re: C. Hamster

                                      Yes. News to me. I'd ask the vendor before I bought. Usually they will tell you the variety you are buying.

                                      1. re: C. Hamster

                                        I've thought about this. The fact that sweet corn is sweeter than it used to be is not because it is GMO. The trend toward sweeter corn is decades long. The newer versions either don't go starchy so quick after picking or remain sweet even if they go starchy. These would be regular old hybrids. The GMO corn would probably reflect the current state of sweetness, not be sweeter than the norm. I'm not saying that GMO corn would taste the same as other sorts, But that the trend toward sweetness has been going on for a long time.

                                        I think the article linked to above, recommends buying organic. Not a bad idea. But if you can find the original sweet corn, Golden Bantam, I recommend trying that. But you have to eat it right after picking for max flavor. I have no idea if you even buy Golden Bantam any more though.

                                      2. re: StriperGuy

                                        All sweet corn is genetically modified (GMO) sweet corn was created from a cross of pollens of different breeds of corn or genetically modified. . Round up ready or pre treated chemically seed (Monsanto) are two separate things.. just fyi

                                        1. re: nspear1176


                                          Sweet corn[edit
                                          ]GM sweet corn varieties include "Attribute", the brand name for insect-resistant sweet corn developed by Syngenta.[21]

                                          I doubt that the sweetness of most corn is due to its being a GMO product, particularly if you are buying from a small market garden, where growing GMO corn would be a major hassle. Most independent growers want nothing to do with this.

                                          I want to assure you, as a consumer of sweet corn straight from local produce farms for over 40 years, the corn has been bred to remain sweet even after the milk in the kernels starts going to starch. But if you are worried about this ask your grower, or grocer for more info.

                                          1. re: nspear1176

                                            Most sweet corn is NOT GMO for a very good definition of GMO see this Wikipedia definition: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/GMO

                                            It is quite scientifically accurate.

                                        2. re: hargau

                                          Well since about 99% of corn grown on the U.S. is field corn, not sweet corn, that 90% number of yours still works fine. Having said that, I still don't know how much sweet corn may be GMO

                                          1. re: Cheez62

                                            I bought some corn at a small well known farm stand in my area. They advertised it as "their own" corn and had feels within sight.. I asked if the corn was gmo, and the woman said "I dont know but i get asked that alot!" Kinda pissed me off as you would think if you were being asked a question alot about your main product this time of year that you would find out...

                                            1. re: hargau

                                              Well I agree, she should know. Is it possible that she didn't know what it even means? Perhaps they just "buy the seed and plant it"! I don't know if any vegetable seeds sold in small packets in the hardware store, etc. are gmo, but I have to admit that I have never checked the packets I buy to see if I am planting such. Granted, this is just my own small garden, and I am not selling anything. But I don't know!

                                              1. re: Cheez62

                                                No. GMO seed is tightly controlled and only marketed in bulk. You won't find it available in your seed catalogs or stands. Also, the seed is much more expensive so probably not going to sell well at retail prices. So don't worry, your garden seeds are GMO free.

                                      3. Eat it raw.....

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: galleygirl

                                          Interesting. That makes it less sweet? I also find corn on the cob way too sweet. I eat it in salads mixed with bitter greens and a tart dressing, which balances it out. I'll have to try just using it raw. That would certainly be easier!

                                          1. re: maillard

                                            I find cooking it intensifies the sweetness, so I go raw; you can still sprinkle with salt!
                                            I go with the salad thing, too, esp with tomatoes, basil, a pinch of white vinegar, and a sprinkle of chili powder...chopped kale optional...

                                          2. re: galleygirl

                                            Luv raw corn myself!

                                          3. I have felt the same way for years.

                                            I grew up in Iowa and was forced to eat a lot of corn over the years. To the point that when I was on my own I refused to eat it.

                                            When I did start eating it again I was pretty shocked at how sweet it was.

                                            I didn't really taste like corn.

                                            And it's only gotten worse.

                                            I even find the corn from the Copley FM on the sweet side.

                                            And never sugar in the water !!

                                            1. The Monsanto hybrids were developed for American tastes- thin-wall kernels, high moisture content, sweet. Most like it. By contrast, in Mexico, where 53% of daily caloric consumption is corn tortillas, the Monsanto hybrids are not suitable for tortilla making. If you were to try the tough, dry,somewhat flavorless thick-walled kernel corn that is typical in Mexico you may appreciate American sweet corn more.
                                              On the plus side for Mexican corn, it is not resistant to the huitlacoche fungus, which has become somewhat of a delicacy in the U.S., where huitlacoche eradication has been underway for decades.

                                              1. You can sometimes get field corn at farm stands. Which, for anyone who hasn't tried it, I heartily recommend doing so at least once. It's tougher and starchier, but when picked at its most tender/sweet it's delicious and just has a hint of sweetness.

                                                1. Just read "Eating on the Wild Side: The Missing Link to Optimum Health" which has a whole chapter on "Corn how Sweet it is". Talks all about the introduction and breeding of the super sweet corns. I do believe they gave some varieties to purchase which weren't so sweet. BTW this is interesting book on what to buy at the grocery store for more nutrients and what to look for at farmers markets and what might be good choice for the home gardener...

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: gardgen

                                                    Thanks, Gardgen. I'll definitely take a look.

                                                  2. Plain to me means adding nothing. Sometimes even salt can bring out the sweetness in corn. My husband introduced me to plain (nothing added) corn years ago and I've never looked back.

                                                    6 Replies
                                                    1. re: Isolda

                                                      Yah I mostly go totally plain, sometimes raw myself.

                                                      1. re: StriperGuy

                                                        I don't see how sweet corn with butter and salt is anything less than a perfect trinity.
                                                        To each their own.

                                                        1. re: Veggo


                                                        2. re: StriperGuy

                                                          +1 for totally plain....although once in a blue moon I can't resist a throwback to childhood with a little butter which, let's face it, complements EVERYTHING. ;)

                                                          1. re: Science Chick

                                                            I do agree and go for the butter and salt thing once in a blue moon. I just don't crave salt very much at all, my SO can't understand it, and the butter really doesn't add that much for me.

                                                          2. re: StriperGuy

                                                            Ditto on plain and raw, more often than cooked.

                                                        3. Don't cook it. Slice off the cob with bottom in a big bowl to catch it all, add to salads or make a fresh salsa with tomatoes (acid), cilantro and salt/pepper
                                                          Or after its cooked use a squeeze of lime with the butter and salt combo and sprinkle with green onion or cilantro or basil etc

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: Ttrockwood

                                                            Or use a bundt pan. Has made my cutting kernels off the cob so much easier!

                                                          2. Grocery store corn is just too sweet for me period. ~ For sweet corn I raise Merit Sweet Corn....just a little sweetness. I have also grown Funks G-90 which can be good at times. ~ The rest is Pencil Cob, an old Shoe-Peg type corn with a great flavor. When it's ready you have to pull it within 2-4 days. After that it's past it's prime. It also makes the best corn meal.

                                                            1. we've had some lovely corn this year but the batch of bicolor DH brought home the other day was just.too.sweet for me! I'm hoping it isn't a trend. :)

                                                              1. Oh HELL no. I love love LOVE sweet corn. I could eat it until it'scoming out of my ears!

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: FitMom4Life

                                                                  Me too! Can't bet enough of it. The end of season corn has been really terrific in my area.
                                                                  I'm going nuts buying it.

                                                                2. Oh HELL no. I love love LOVE sweet corn. I could eat it until it'scoming out of my ears! I can eat it right in the field, and have done so many times. Add butter salt and pepper...lots or pepper, and it's dish for a king!

                                                                  1. The last two years I haven't been able to find any corn that has had any corn flavor to it. I don't mind the sweetness, but when it's just sweet and no other flavor.... Blech!

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: JMF

                                                                      That's a common problem in wet summers. Wetness means fat and flabby-tasting vegetables and fruit (good for farmers, though, who sell by volume or weight).

                                                                    2. I find corn too sweet these days as well.

                                                                      My solution is to slather in butter & cover in salt (after nuking briefly). Works like a charm.

                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: linguafood

                                                                        Try the Mexican style, elote. Sounds weird but it's tasty:

                                                                        Brush cooked, preferably grilled, corn with a very light coating of mayonnaise. Roll in grated cotija cheese, which gives you a lovely salty element. Squeeze lime juice on it, and maybe a sprinkle of cayenne or chile powder.

                                                                        The sweetness of the corn is nicely set off by the other flavors.

                                                                        1. re: coney with everything

                                                                          Yes. So, so good.

                                                                      2. Old fashioned "sweet" corn only stayed sweet started converting to starch in about 30 minutes -- leading to the old saying that first get the water boiling, then pick the corn. These are open pollinated, and really only suitable for backyard gardens.

                                                                        Most corn that has been commercially available for a really long time (even from farm stands) is "supersweet" which is a hybrid (not GE) that is sweeter than "sweet" corn, and slower to convert to starch.

                                                                        More recently, "sugar enhanced" corn has been grown, usually not in backyards or small scale farm stands (if grown close to other types it can cross pollinate and become starchy). This lasts for days and days without becoming starchy.

                                                                        There is a range of sweetness in all these types of sweet corn, and it seems to me that there has been a trend to grow sweeter and sweeter corn because Americans "like" sweet. If you buy from a farm stand (or grow your own) you might choose "Supersweet" varieties that are less sweet and have more "corn" flavor. Look through seed catalogs, the descriptions will help you choose varieties. Maybe your local farm stand will grow a variety for you that you might like.

                                                                        8 Replies
                                                                        1. re: dkenworthy

                                                                          You make an excellent point, actually.

                                                                          I bought 6 ears of corn on Saturday, thinking I'd be using them for a dinner party. Well, we had enough food as it was, so I ate them over the next following days.

                                                                          Likely b/c they had been in the fridge for a while, the last few ears weren't nearly as sweet as corn I ate the same day.

                                                                          Might be a good solution for LP, the OP.

                                                                          1. re: linguafood

                                                                            Except the texture will be affected. Chewy and starchy. Still not good.

                                                                            1. re: sueatmo

                                                                              It was neither, 3 days after I bought it. Just less sweet.

                                                                              So... better for me.

                                                                              1. re: linguafood

                                                                                That has not been my experience. I imagine there are several sorts of whatever corn is currently being grown around the country.

                                                                                Does any other country go nuts for sweet corn?

                                                                                1. re: sueatmo

                                                                                  Does any other country grow sweet corn?

                                                                                  1. re: flavrmeistr

                                                                                    I would think that Canada does; I don't know about any others. It seems that China grows everything these days, do they probably do too. Besides, are those little baby ears of corn in Chinese food sweet corn? LOL they must grow it!

                                                                                    1. re: Cheez62

                                                                                      I always have trouble putting the "holders' in the ends of the mini corn.

                                                                                  2. re: sueatmo


                                                                          2. One of my local grocery stores is carrying Amaize sweet corn this year, which is a relatively new naturally bred white corn. It is way too sweet for my taste, but I do like Brentwood bi-color or yellow corn. I find that most white corn varieties don't have much corn flavor.

                                                                            1. The sweeter the better for me. That said, try finding "mirai" corn. It tasted like real corn and its sweetness factor is lower than the usual suspect these days.

                                                                              1. Most, if not all, of the corn grown on the East end of Long Island is GMO.
                                                                                It is sweet, I like that. It's also fast growing so that it hits the farm stands by July 4 and with staggered planting lasts until after Halloween.

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: Motosport


                                                                                  Not right

                                                                                2. Back when I was a sprat, and we'd invented enough dirt to grow stuff, corn was still pretty much corn. The stuff you wanted to eat you picked green, or at least before the kernels had begun to dimple, and Yes, had the boiling water ready. Leave it in the field and it's fodder or seed. That was in the area where I grew up; I know there were varieties grown elsewhere (such as in my grandpa's garden) that you could pick in the morning and boil for supper, and these made the canneries and frozen-food companies happy too.

                                                                                  As for the ungodly sweetness and loss of corn flavor, well, that's a broader trend than just corn. Try finding a peach with a decent amount of acidity anymore, and the farmer's market growers are the worst offenders.

                                                                                  1. I like most corn on the cob. If it's supersweet I only rub some salt on it, if that, sometimes it doesn't even need that. We get a lot of not-so-fabulous corn here, in that case I have no problem putting lemon, lime, red chile, oregano, butter, lemon pepper, or other stuff on it. I try to roll with it and jazz it up as the individual ear I'm eating needs jazzing up, if at all. In other words, I don't hate the candy-sweet corn, I just eat it a little differently.
                                                                                    If the corn's too sweet for you naked, try some lime juice topped with red chile. That's a good combination. Maybe a little neutral oil or olive oil, or (this would be awesome!) La Tourangelle toasted pumpkin seed oil instead of butter if you like a little schmear on it, since butter does add some sweetness.

                                                                                    1. Grow your own? Although it's hard to find seeds for non-super sweet varieties, they still do exist. Burpee has a dwarf variety for container growing - can't report on taste yet since mine is just setting ears.

                                                                                      Growers started breeding super-sweet varieties long before GMOs were feasible, probably because the sugars in sweet corn start breaking down into starch as soon as the ears are picked: since it now takes longer to get corn from field to table, the more sugar the longer the corn stays palatable.

                                                                                      In my area - the SF Bay Area - white corn tends to be a little less sweet. I like mine cooked simply than rubbed with lime, or in a chowder.