A Quick Look into the World of Sweet Corn

With summer right around the corner, one cannot help but excited about summer days spent at the beach, lake or just lounging around the house. One of the best parts about these types of summer days, is ending them with a delicious meal shared with friends. In the South, this meal can only be made complete by one thing…. Good ol’ fashion sweet corn.

Sweet corn is all the rage in the summer, mainly because it is at its freshest point around June and July. Found in farmers’ markets all across the state, sweet corn is the most popular item to be sold right behind butter peas. Jimmy Jones of Extension Daily comments on the increase in demand.

“Vegetables are on the rise,” says Jones. “People are going to backyard gardening again.”6120743468_e9d1a5251b_b

Sweet corn is grown in Alabama, but has a short-lived harvest span. The peak time for this crop is the end of April and the beginning of May. Sweet corn lasts about eight weeks, throughout June and July while it is in its milk stage.

“If you let corn get past the milk stage it gets tough and no one wants to eat tough corn,” says Jones. “Sweet corn is also best served fresh. It does not freeze well.”

Though it is grown sporadically throughout Alabama, mainly in backyard gardens or for farmers’ markets, Alabama focuses mainly on producing field corn.

“Some areas grow sweet corn and field corn,” says Jones. “Here in Alabama we are a mix, but mainly we grow field corn. We have a 70-billion-dollar poultry industry, so we grow field corn to provide this industry.”

Sweet corn is produced in the Georgia and Florida area. One can produce two to three crops of sweet corn of year in these areas. This is because of their implementation of hydrocoolers. Hydrocooling is a modern technology innovation that cools postharvest produce on a large scale.

“Hydrocoolers flash cool the sweet corn,” says Jones. “This does not freeze the corn though. This is seen largely around the Blakely, Georgia area.”

There are over 100 different types of sweet corn varieties. The most common type of sweet corn is called Silver Queen and is most popularly served roasted or boiled.

“The kernels from sweet corn go in anything from salsa to cream,” says Jones. “Most dishes are roasted or on the cob.

Silver Queen corn like most sweet corn is best roasted or boiled. This delicacy is found each year at National Peanut Festival in Dothan, Alabama cooked to perfection.

“Each year the Roasted Ear, which is roasted sweet corn, sells out almost immediately,” says Jones.

Aside from its popularity, sweet corn has a few health benefits. Even though it has a higher sugar content, sweet corn contains antioxidant activity. Antioxidant activity helps protect the body from cancer and heart disease.

So take some time this summer to visit a local farmers’ market and indulge in some sweet corn!

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