Fresh corn is at its peak between July and September for most of the United States – and since the kernels are at their sweetest and juiciest as soon as each ear is picked, now is the time to enjoy it. It doesn’t take much prep to make it taste amazing, so it’s one of the best foods to enjoy during a heat wave.
If you think corn has no nutritional value because it passes through you intact, it doesn’t, according to Julia Zumpano, registered dietitian at the Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Human Nutrition. “Corn is definitely good for you,” she confirmed, and “eating fresh corn on the cob will give you the most nutritional benefits.”
Much of corn’s reputation is misplaced. “It has a bad reputation for being high in sugar,” Zumpano said, but depending on the size, an ear of corn contains between 3 and 6 grams of sugar and around 100 to 110 calories. Also, when you eat corn, “a lot of the carbs aren’t necessarily digested or absorbed. That’s the joy of eating one carb and knowing you’re not digesting half of it.”
Corn is also rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, two carotenoids that may help reduce the risk of macular degeneration and cataracts, Zumpano said, and contains B vitamins as well as essential minerals such as magnesium and potassium.
Yellow corn is higher in antioxidants than white corn due to the pigments present in each kernel. Red, blue, or purple sweet corn has even more pigment, if you know of a home gardener or local farmer who grows these rarer varieties.
Cooking and preparing fresh corn
To use corn in the recipes that follow, you will need to remove the kernels from the cob. There are corn peeling tools that can help you accomplish this task, but my favorite method uses two items already in the kitchen: a sharp paring knife and a large bowl.
Hold the corn vertically and stem side up in the bowl. Run the paring knife along each side of the corn, turning as you go, to remove the kernels. By using a small knife and a large bowl, you won’t hit the sides with your knife and the corn won’t bounce all over the place.
corn for breakfast
Corn for lunch and dinner
When it comes to summer salads, corn vies with tomatoes for the title of most popular ingredient. It pairs well with almost any other ingredient in a variety of flavor profiles. Chances are a kitchen sink salad will go well with whatever you have on hand, but you can also take inspiration from these ideas:
- Kale Caesar Salad with Roasted Corn and Cornbread Croutons
- Black bean and corn salad
- Corn, Avocado and Tomato Salad with Honey Lime Vinaigrette
Corn for dessert
Sweet corn is called that for a reason: it’s sweet enough to be used as an ingredient in baked goods beyond cornbread and muffins. But if you don’t feel ready to cook in the summer heat, use corn in cool, refreshing desserts.