How to cook corn on the cob

It has been a while since we’ve done a recipe. And, it has been a while since we had a huge internet fight over something. Therefore, we will discuss:

how to cook corn on the cob!

First, you have to get some very fresh corn and do everything you can do to minimize the time from picking the corn to cooking the corn. Or, just go to the grocery store and get Genetically Modified Frankencorn. It will taste fine.

Then, decide which basic method you want to use. You can steam it (I have no idea how to do that), you can roast it (which we will not cover here, but it is a great way to cook corn on the cob), you can microwave it (I’ll have a hint or two for that below) or you can boil it. Here we will focus on boiling it.

The core of this recipe is simple: Drop husked corn on the cob into water that is at a full boil and cover the pot with the heat still on full blast. Let the water return to a boil (though it need not be to a fill roiling boil) and turn off the fire. In five or six minutes the corn will be ready, and since you turned the heat off and did not boil the crap out of the corn for several minutes, it will taste better than otherwise.

Variations:

1) Put salt in the water. No one knows why, but a lot of people do this.
2) Add about a quarter cup of sugar per gallon of water, maybe more sugar. I don’t usually do this but many swear by it.
3) Just before the corn is about to boil, if you are only cooking four or five ears max, put the ears of corn on a plate in the microwave for about a minute, maybe 90 seconds. This warms up the cobs and allows the water to get back to a boil faster.

Microwaving Corn On The Cob


If you want to microwave the corn, there are a number of methods that are used, but the main problem is that straight microwaving can remove moisture. Here’s what I do. I break the ears in half and stand them up in a short straight sided bowl with a little water in the bottom of it, and cover the whole thing with plastic wrap. Then, I microwave it for five or six minutes on half power, then three minutes on full power. If the corn is not very very hot, I rearrange the ears a bit, recover, and give it another two minutes. Be careful to not burn yourself. I quickly add that this microwave method is fairly experimental for me. I usually use the boiling method.

Hat tip to Bruno Marino for the stop-the-boiling method. Bruno may be the best cook I’ve ever met, and he was trained by the CIA. He’s pretty good with a mass spectrometer, too.

Enjoy your corn.

More on cooking here.

Comments

  1. #1 Rich
    September 12, 2012

    Thanks for sharing the ideas! My grandmother always boiled her corn, my mom usually microwaves it, but I generally steam mine. I have a stovetop steamer and I leave the corn in it for about 10 minutes. I don’t have any real data on this, but I feel that boiling must take out some of the nutrients, and microwaving in plastic wrap gives me just a bit of concern… But steaming, while taking longer than microwaving, goes a bit quicker than boiling and I *feel* that I’m keeping in more of the nutrients.

    Throughout my youth, my grandfather grew several acres of Silver Queen sweet corn every summer, and we could gorge ourselves on it every night for dinner – as many ears as we wanted!

  2. #2 Daniel Weinstein
    Mitchells Island, NSW, Australia
    September 12, 2012

    Microwaving. The secret is don’t husk. Get unhusked corn. Put it in the microwave for 1.5 to 2 minutes per. Husk at the table.
    This is the best justification I’ve ever found for owning a microwave. I thought boiling was best for corn, but this is better.

  3. #3 Rosie Redfield
    September 12, 2012

    Microwave method: Leave the husks on; don’t do anything to them. Microwave for just long enough that the husks are super-steaming hot. If you have to be careful not to burn your fingers while peeling the husks off, the corn is done.

  4. #4 gwen
    September 13, 2012

    I love roasting them. When I boil it, I bring the salted water to a boil, put the corn in and let it come back to a boil, wait 3 min and remove the corn and serve it. My mom used to boil it until it was dead. If mine is slightly undercooked, I still love it…dead corn..not so much..

  5. #5 Alon
    September 13, 2012

    Adding salt to the water ensures that it gets evenly distributed as the corn hydrates. Adding sugar made sense when most varieties weren’t as sweet as the currently comercially available ones, but it’s rather pointless in this day and age (like salting raw eggplant to draw the bitter, potentially toxic solanine out).

    I favour the roasting method myself: discard all but a couple of layers of husks, remove the silky stigmata, brush corn lightly with olive oil or butter and a pinch of salt, wrap again in remaining husks, and roast over an open fire for about 15 minutes, rotating as needed to prevent burning.

  6. #6 Bodach
    September 13, 2012

    Room temperature corn into boiling water for 3 minutes, remove from water and toss around on a hot grill until nicely marked, slather with butter, sprinkle with cumin/salt mixture, eat, rest, exercise to remove new weight.

  7. #7 Jim Thomerson
    September 13, 2012

    Back in Illinois i had a small backyard garden with some sweet corn. I set the water on to boil, went out and pulled three ears. I shucked them on the way into the house and put them into the boiling water. I do a 5 minute boil. It is a fact that the fresher the corn the better it tastes.

  8. #8 Greg Laden
    September 13, 2012

    Jim, why ruin the corn? Better to set up the boiling water on an outdoor cooker next to the corn stalk, and then bend the corn stalk down to put the corn cob into the water while still attached. Once the screaming stops, wait about two minutes and it’s done.

  9. #9 Susan
    September 13, 2012

    Another advantage of microwaving unhusked corn is that the silk is easy to remove afterward.

    As to fresh corn, I know some corn farmers who have set up a pot to boil in the field so the corn can be added immediately after picking. Not quite as good as bending in the cornstalk …

  10. #10 scidogs
    September 14, 2012

    better move quick, the corn at my local store is now labeled home grown which means we are at the end of the crop this year.

  11. #11 Uncle Glenny
    September 15, 2012

    You could eat it raw. I’ve done that with sufficiently high quality, fresh corn.

  12. #12 helen jones
    the middle of nowhere, manitoba, canada
    September 18, 2012

    ok here’s how we prepare corn on the cob. Fresh. Husked. De-silked. one massive clean cooler. fill cooler two-thirds full with corn. toss in a handful of salt. NO SUGAR. add boiling water to cover corn. close top of cooler. toss into truck bed. drive like a bat-out-of-hell to the fields where the harvest is on. keep a couple pounds of butter and s&p on hand and stand out of the way. toss the leftover cobs to the cattle… life is good

  13. #13 Gus Tisdal
    September 28, 2012

    I have seen sme pictures made on the ipod touch and they don’t look bad at all for a 0.7 MP camera. Does anyone have real experience with the camera of the ipod touch? Is it any good? Here in Holland (europe) this ipod touch is not released yet. Does anyone know when it is going to be released in Holland?

  14. #14 Greg Laden
    September 28, 2012

    My daughter has a somewhat older touch, but it has a camera, and it is pretty good, I think the same as the concurrent iPhone.

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