Food & Nutrition

Everything You Need to Know about Corn

Eating corn straight off the cob is a summer pleasure. Here's what you need to know to about buying, shucking, and cooking it.
Published July 26, 2018

Corn on the cob is a true summertime treat (and a ZeroPoint food for some!). Here is everything you'll want to know about buying, storing, and preparing these ears of sweet, golden kernels.

How to choose and store corn

  • Ears should feel heavy for their size.
  • Husks should be green, not brown; outer husks should cling to the ear.
  • The silks at the top of the ears should be glossy and not dry.
  • Pinch the top of the ear to assess whether the husk is well filled out with corn. The kernels should feel plump and firm.
  • Refrigerate corn ASAP after purchase; for best flavor, store it in a bag in the refrigerator crisper drawer for no more than a few days.
  • If you have an abundance of corn, rather than keep it for a long time, it’s better to remove the kernels, steam or boil them for a minute, then freeze them in food storage bags.

How to remove kernels from the cob

Hold the stem end of a husked ear of corn and rest the tip of the ear on the bottom of a large bowl. Using a sharp knife, slice downward with the blade against the cob. The yield of corn per ear varies widely, but on average, a medium ear yields a half cup of kernels.

Watch how it’s done here!

Shuck & awe

1. To boil, fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Pull off husks and silk and break off long stems from ears of corn. Add ears to pot and cook 3 minutes for freshly picked corn, or up to 6 minutes for older corn.
2.  On those hot summer days when you don’t want to boil a large pot of water, try microwaving your corn. Dampen husks (leaving silk intact) with a bit of water, then arrange in a single layer on a microwavable plate or platter. Microwave uncovered on High for 2 minutes for 1 ear, 5 minutes for 2 ears, 9 minutes for 4 ears, and 14 minutes for 6 ears.
3. There are two ways to grill corn on the cob: husked and unhusked. With husks on (for a steamed corn flavor), pull back husks to remove silk, then smooth husks back in place. Soak ears in water for 30 minutes (to prevent burning). Place over medium to medium-high preheated grill and cook, turning occasionally, until corn is tender, 10-12 minutes. For a light char and a grilled flavor, remove husks, then coat ears with nonstick spray, oil, or butter, and grill, turning occasionally, until lightly charred and tender, about 12 minutes.

Cob toppers

Easy, original add-ons to slather on grilled or steamed corn:

  • Brush the ear with reduced-fat basil pesto, then sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes.
  • Combine miso and softened light butter; brush on corn and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds.
  • Stir a little Korean gochujang into light mayonnaise and brush on corn. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro.
  • Combine softened light butter, fresh thyme leaves, snipped fresh chives, and grated lemon peel; brush on corn.
  • Brush ear with a bit of melted light butter, drizzle with Sriracha (hot chili sauce), and sprinkle with finely chopped scallions.