Why Fresh Kernels Are Best When Making Creamed Corn

Sweet corn has long been one of the most grown crops in America. You'll find hundreds of delicious corn recipes that make use of freshly harvested cobs, one of which is creamed corn! The velvety texture and rich, buttery flavor of the cream, combined with the natural sweetness of the corn easily makes it a classic. However, if you want to elevate your creamed corn from good to perfect, there's a simple yet essential secret to this recipe: Use fresh corn kernels instead of frozen or canned ones.

If corn is out season, you're often better off going with frozen corn. However, if corn is in season, you should always buy fresh cobs for this recipe. Corn is at its sweetest when freshly harvested. As such, fresh kernels straight off the cob have an important edge over frozen or canned corn in the sweetness department, which can greatly enhance the flavor of your creamed corn without the need for additional sweeteners. That's why, if you must use frozen or canned corn, you should add a little sugar (or honey) for sweetness.

But, it's not just about the flavor. The most significant difference between fresh corn and other varieties actually lies in the texture. Fresh kernels are firm and, when you take a bite, they provide a delightful and satisfying pop in your mouth. In contrast, frozen and canned corn kernels can feel soft, chewy, or mushy.

Does it matter which type of sweet corn you use?

Creamed corn is traditionally made using sweet corn, aka sugar or pole corn. Sweet corn is the only type of corn with the perfect balance of sweetness and texture to be enjoyed fresh, unlike other field corn varieties that can be tough and bland. The magic of sweet corn lies in its early harvest, preserving its natural sugar content instead of allowing it to turn into starch as it fully matures.

When choosing fresh sweet corn, you may come across cobs in three different colors: yellow, white, or a mix of both known as bicolor. Here's the good news: they're all the same in terms of flavor and texture. Instead, it's the type of seedling that makes a difference. You can buy cobs grown from standard sugar (SU), sugary extender (SE), and supersweet (SH2) seedlings. Supersweet corn is about ten times sweeter than the standard type. If the corn you buy comes in a package, the seedling type will often be listed on the label.

As for the right sweet corn type to use for creamed corn, it ultimately depends on your personal preference and what's available to you. Do you want a subtle corn taste so you can enjoy the richness of the cream? Use SU. But, if you like it as sweet as possible, give SH2 a whirl!