What You Should Look For When Buying Fresh Corn

Nothing quite says summer like sweet and juicy corn on the cob. Easy to cook, they can be boiled, grilled, roasted, steamed, pressure cooked, and even microwaved (via Jessica Gavin). Enjoy them with just salt and butter, or try adding cotija cheese, mayonnaise, sour cream, lime, and chile powder to make your own version of Mexican street corn. You can also cut the corn kernels off the cob to add to a salad with other fresh summer vegetables like tomatoes and bell peppers.

However you prefer to cook and enjoy your corn, you want the freshest corn possible for maximum sweetness. That's because once picked, you only have a window of three days before enzymes in the corn start to convert the sugars into starch, advisesĀ Pick Your Own. Once that happens, those sweet, juicy, and crispy kernels of corn deliciousness turn into a bland and starchy dud and disappointment. Luckily, there are a few easy things to look out for when buying corn to ensure you are getting the freshest, and sweetest, corn possible.

How to buy the freshest corn

For the absolute freshest corn, go as close to the source as possible, like a local farmers market, recommends Jessica Gavin. Even if your only option is the supermarket, inspect the corn carefully before purchasing. First, look at the husk on the outside of the corn. You want it to be bright green, tightly wrapped, and preferably slightly damp, per Taste of Home, as those are all signs of freshness. Avoid any that have small brown holes, especially towards the top, as that's a sign of worms, and nobody wants that (via Food 52). Do not peel back the husk to sneak a peek at the kernels though, as that will cause the corn to dry out faster, and is just bad etiquette. What you can do instead is to give the corn a gentle squeeze to feel the kernels inside to ensure they are plump, and avoid the ones that have any soft spots or missing kernels.

Next, look at the tassle or corn silk sticking out of the top, and pick ones that are gold or light browned colored, feel moist or a bit sticky, and smell sweet, according to Taste of Home. Finally, Allrecipes recommends lifting the corn to feel its weight, and picking the ones that feel heavy relative to their size, as it's a sign they are full of juice and sap, and therefore still sweet and delicious.