Hey You Cornhuskers – Do You Really Know What you are Doing?

I am amazed that in this age of “local is best because it is fresh” that so many consumers cheerfully husk their corn in the grocery store or market before purchase. This makes about as much sense as peeling bananas in the supermarket before bringing them home. Nature has provided a cob of corn with a wonderful one hundred percent biodegradable packing material called the husk. It keeps the corn slightly cool and from being exposed to the air which dries it and accelerates maturing which means the sugar in the sweetcorn deteriorates rather rapidly converts to less tasty starch. Also the “silk” that extends from the cob are the channels through which the pollen travels to the individual kernel for fertilization. These are fully intact and part of the husk but when removed the kernels have no more reason to live and have another reason to start to deteriorate rather rapidly .Thus unless shoppers are planning to cook their corn immediately upon return from the grocery store, husking before purchase is not a wise move for those who cherish fresh food. Sure it is a bit of a mess in the kitchen but certainly worth the inconvenience. For those who are uncertain about the quality of the corn, a slight tear in the husk will expose a few kernels which will be identical to the rest of the cob. If you think about it, few consumers would peel part of an orange to test the quality so it may be a worthwhile exercise to learn to judge the quality of the corn by the plumpness of the cob and the density and maturity of the silk. Chocolate brown ends and golden green in colour where they enter the cob is what I look for when choosing a quality
Also it should be pointed out that husking corn at a farmers market is taboo. Recently at a local market a vendor of sweet corn was livid. One of her customers has shucked the recently purchased corn in front of her booth which she was busy cleaning up when we came along. She knew the loss of quality thing which was what she was trying to deliver but worse than that, market vendors are obligated to keep the vicinity of their stands tidy. The stand operator probably lost a couple customers while she was distracted with the unnecessary effort of cleaning up someone else’s mess.
Maurice Hladik
Author of , “Demystifying Food from Farm to Fork

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