Faithful readers will remember that our first round of sweet corn was a learning experience for us. Although the first ears we picked were fine, we let them go for another ten days, then proudly served some to the Scotts when they visited—and they were terrible, starchy and doughy and not at all sweet. So we asked around to find out what we had done wrong, and determined to do better with our second planting.
The most important thing we learned was that the corn would be ripe about three weeks after it tassled, so we watched it and marked the calendar when it tassled. The other thing we knew was that the corn is ready when you puncture a kernel with a fingernail and the juice is milky, not clear. So three weeks later we began to check the corn more or less daily, sometimes pulling back the husk on an ear and puncturing a kernel, sometimes pulling a whole ear and passing it around to sample (raw sweet corn tastes pretty good even before it is completely ripe).
It has rained heavily since Saturday and was looking pretty gloomy this morning, so I thought about putting things off until tomorrow when it would be drier. But finally I went down to the garden and tested an ear; milky juice flowed out, and so it was time. Chris and I picked it all after lunch, pulling out the stalks at the same time (easy because of the rains), then began to husk it.
Meanwhile Debbie and Maggie began processing it into creamed corn, meaning only that the kernels are cut and then the ear is scraped to get all the milky juice from it. Bad parts were cut off the ears (mostly the tip), the ears were washed and then boiled for seven minutes, then cooled in ice water. After cooling Debbie would take the ears and, using a specialized cutter, scrape the kernels and then the cob. It took awhile, but in the end we had 19 quarts of creamed corn put up, along with fifteen ears set aside for supper tonight.
The corn itself was beautiful. Maybe 5% was not ripe enough, and only a couple of the ears were at all bug-eaten. All but a few of the ears did have earworms, which had munched a couple of inches at the tip. After husking awhile we got pretty adept at pulling back the husk and shaking out the earworm in one motion. It wasn’t a major problem to cut away the worm-eaten parts, but I’d like to find out if there is any non-poisonous way to control them.
The corn at supper was perfect, the best corn I’d ever tasted—sweet and juicy, not a bit starchy. I’m looking forward to trying the creamed corn. All in all it was worth the effort, and we will be a lot smarter about it next year, staggering a number of plantings so that we can have some ready every week during the season.