Corn on the Cob: Are You Trying to Butter Me Up?

Corn on the Cob
Photo by WayTru via Flickr

The weather outside is getting warmer and people are heading outdoors for cookouts.  Soon the summertime parties will be going full swing and hot, juicy, sweet corn on the cob will be on the menu at many of those parties.

In the United States, corn on the cob is synonymous with summer.  Partially that’s because corn is in season in the United States from May through September, exactly matching the summer cookout season.

Is corn healthy?
Since corn is usually eaten fresh like a vegetable, most people think it is one.  But in actuality, corn is a whole grain.  That doesn’t mean that corn is not a healthy addition to a summertime menu though, just that you can’t count it as your vegetable.

A medium size ear of corn only has about 75 calories and is a good source of dietary fiber, vitamin C, thiamin (vitamin B1), pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), folate, phosphorus and manganese.  If you’re worried about corn being unhealthy, what you need to watch is what you put on it.

Should I butter up my corn?
If you are trying to be healthier, don’t slather your corn with butter.  You will only be adding unneeded calories and unhealthy fat.  Go light on the butter.  If you can break with tradition entirely, use a touch of olive oil and some herbs or spices to flavor your corn instead.  Or just eat corn plain, it is quite sweet and flavorful on its own, after all.

How should I choose and store corn?
Now to enjoy corn’s maximum flavor and health benefits, follow these 4 simple tips:

  1. Buy corn picked that day: It is important to purchase corn on the day you are going to cook it because it loses flavor fairly rapidly.  That is because the sugar in corn begins to turn to starch the moment it is picked.  Also, as fresh corn ages, it loses a lot of its nutrients.  So, if you wait too long, you will be eating corn that is starchy, tough, fairly tasteless and lacking in nutrients.
  2. Corn should be displayed in a cold place, or at least kept away from the sun: Heat rapidly converts corn’s sugar to starch.  So, corn at the supermarket should be displayed in the refrigerated section and corn at the Farmer’s Market should be kept in the shade, out of direct sunlight.
  3. Do not buy corn that is already husked: The husk should envelope the corn, be a good green color and be free from decay where the silk ends.  If you can, pull the husk back and look for kernels that are plump, well formed and tightly arranged in rows.
  4. Eat the corn the day you get it, if possible: This will provide you with corn’s optimal sweet flavor and the maximum amount of nutrients.  However, if you can not eat the corn right away, make sure to store it in the coldest part of your refrigerator.  Place the corn in a plastic bag with its husks still intact.  Cold temperatures will help preserve the flavor by slowing the change from sugar to starch.

The bottom line:
Corn is a crowd pleaser during summer parties and is good source of many nutrients.  However, for the best flavor, you need to eat it as soon after it is picked as possible.  And if you are watching your weight, go easy on the butter or skip it entirely.  It’s the corn on the cob that is the star of the summer, not the butter!

Comments (6)

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  1. @freehrm says:

    I have not had corn on the cob in a long time but I may have to give it another try this summer and follow your recommendations.

  2. Growing up in New England, Corn on the Cob is a summer must. Nothing like picking fresh corn, shucking it and mmmm! I cant wait.

  3. Rosy says:

    Love corn-just by itself. So good! Nice post, Talli!

  4. Maria Isabel says:

    I love corn on the cob without anything on it. It is delicious!

  5. Brandon says:

    If you ever had Jersey White Corn, you would know putting butter on it is a sin!!!!!

  6. […] 2008 ← Corn on the Cob: Are You Trying to Butter Me Up? Healthy Grilling: Avoid Those Carcinogens! […]

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