Sweet Corn

Summer in Ohio means sweet corn to many of us.  However, not all sweet corn is created equally.

Many of you who shop the farmers markets likely have been seeing sweet corn for a few weeks now.  Some of the farmers may advertise it as “Marietta” or “Rancine” sweet corn.  Those are two big river towns where sweet corn is grown due to the sandy yet rich soils.  I refuse to buy these products.  Three reasons:

1) There is very very little organic sweet corn in Ohio. Corn needs more nitrogen than our soils offer.  Therefore, fertilizer is used….and when used in the soils along the Ohio River, you can only guess where it goes.

2) I don’t know the farmer….and it’s too far of a distance from Cleveland.

3) It’s usually a sugar enhanced variety.

The last one probably sounds foreign to you.  Sugar enhanced ?  When farmers are picking out their seeds, they have a couple options.  A sugar enhanced corn variety is one of them.The sugar enhanced is desirable to the farmer for two reasons – it’s cheap and it grows fast.  A sugar enhanced seed has been bred to create a seed that is high in starch.  The starch is the fuel for the plant to get started.  Seeds with high amounts of starch have higher energy. They may then sprout from colder soils and grow faster. To the farmer, the sugar enhanced seeds mean more corn faster  – and at a lower price.  Who wouldn’t want that?

Well there is a tradeoff.  Sugar enhanced seeds have all their starch at the beginning of the plants life, not at the end.  As consumers of the corn, we want the starch in the kernels of corn on the cob.  That’s where the flavor is.  It also allows the product to taste better for longer.

This week’s corn is the season’s first “super sweet” corn.  Super sweet is a type of corn that has less starch in the seed but puts a lot of starch into the finished product.  You’ll taste the difference!  This corn was grown at Maize Valley Farm in Hartville, OH in their rich muck soils.   In my opinion, they grow hands-down the best sweet corn.  It’s so good you can even eat it raw and enjoy it.

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