You Don’t Have to Cook Your Sweet Summer Corn

The freshest, fastest way to make your sweet summer corn ready to eat. 

Published Aug. 3, 2022.

This might be a controversial opinion, but to my mind, the best way to eat really good, in-season corn (the fresh ears you find at the market in the height of summer) is raw. Since corn’s sugars start turning to starch after they’re picked, you’ll want to buy the freshest possible specimens. Look for whole ears (local if possible) with clean, white silk and green, pliable husks. The husks should be wrapped tightly around the ear and the kernels should feel firm and plump underneath the husk. 

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How to Shuck Fresh Corn

When you’re ready to prepare your corn, follow these steps to remove the husks and silk.

1. Use a sharp chef’s knife to cut the tip and base from the cob (just above where the husks connect to the corn stalk). 

2. Starting from the base of the cob, peel the husks away from the corn.

3. Rub the ears with a clean dish towel to remove the silk.

A Neat Way to Cut Fresh Corn off the Cob

The most common method of cutting corn off the cob involves standing the corn up vertically, which causes the kernels to scatter. Here’s an alternative that keeps the kernels more contained. (This works well with both raw and cooked corn on the cob.)

1. Stand corn up vertically and remove a single strip by slicing downward. Place corn horizontally on cut side.

2. Use narrower front third of chef ’s knife to slice downward along cob and remove kernels. With less distance to fall, kernels don’t scatter as far.

How to cut fresh corn off the cob.
How to cut fresh corn off the cob.

Fresh Ways to Use That Sweet Summer Corn

Though I never say no to boiled or grilled corn on the cob slathered in butter, when it’s hot out, I’d rather stay cool and toss raw kernels straight into a refreshing salad or slaw. A stroll through the farmers’ market to see what’s growing alongside that sweet summer corn has inspired some of my favorite salads. Think blueberries, basil, tomatoes, and peppers. Tossed together with some baby arugula, butter lettuce, and a homemade vinaigrette, a salad of local seasonal produce will have you rethinking turning on the oven, stove, or grill at all. 

Summer Cornbread and Tomato Salad

This spin on panzanella gets a double dose of corn flavor from toasty cornbread and sweet corn kernels.
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As for the corn itself, those crisp-tender morsels add juicy pops of sweetness and bursts of delightful texture, not to mention bright color. And while they’re great in just about any salad, they’re an especially smart addition to this panzanella-inspired Summer Cornbread and Tomato Salad, where cornbread croutons stand in for Italian bread and everything gets tossed together with peak-season tomatoes, sweet basil, and a creamy jalapeño-lime dressing.

As for the corn itself, those crisp-tender morsels add juicy pops of sweetness and bursts of delightful texture, not to mention bright color. 

It’s easy-breezy summer comfort food that’s not only vibrant and fresh-tasting but also irresistibly satisfying. 

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