Sweet corn brings back California for me, with barbecues and Mexican food being two of my favourite culinary categories. I really wasn’t confident about the prospect of getting cobs in Southeast England, but it has been with great pleasure that we have harvested 7 this weekend.
You know to start thinking about harvesting sweet corn when the silks (the hairy tassels at the top of the cob) start to brown. Sweet corn should be picked in the ‘milk stage’, when a milky liquid is drawn from pressing a fingernail into a kernel. If the liquid is watery, it’s too early, and if doughy, it’s too late. Be sure to pull the husk down sufficiently when testing, as the tips of the cob are most immature and can deceive you into thinking they’re not ready.
There’s not much magic to harvesting sweet corn: just hold the stalk with one hand, hold the ear at the base with the other. Twist the ear firmly downward, like turning a door handle. Sweet corn starts to lose its sweetness as soon as it’s picked so it’s best to harvest when you know you can eat it, otherwise refrigerate.
For lunch we rustled up a simple dish using corn, onions and green bell peppers from our garden with a bit of Spanish chorizo. We sweated the onions and then fried up the rest of the ingredients – it was wonderful!