How Sweet it is!

Posted: Monday, July 30, 2007 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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“People have tried and tried but sex is not better than sweet corn”
(Garrison Keillor, “A Prairie Home Companion”)
I don’t know if I’d go that far, but I certainly have to agree with the bard from Lake Wobegon, that dining on fresh sweet corn with butter and salt is about as pleasurable experience as one can have while fully clothed.
I live on the east side of Sioux Falls, and, as Perry Groten reported last week, east 10th street is to sweet corn what the “strip” is to gambling in Las Vegas.
I’ve done lots of stories on sweet corn over the years including with my old pal Vernon Frye who operates Belly Acres Greenhouse along  highway 77 near Baltic. He taught me all about the importance of getting sweet corn under refrigeration and then eaten as fast as possible because the sugar starts turning to starch as soon as it’s  picked. He says every minute those ears sit out in the hot sun, they’re becoming..what amounts to..silage. Yuck.
Frye also has issues with corn vendors with big signs offering “kandy” corn.
He says there is a late season variety that’s actually called candy corn..but that’s not what most stands are selling.  Over the years, he’s thought about suing for false advertising but I don’t think it’s ever wound up in court.
I do agree that the fresher the better when it comes to sweet corn but I’ve kept it in the fridge for up to a week and still enjoyed each bite.Dan "Tiny" Parker gnaws through 19 ears to win corn eating contest in Olathe, Colo.(photo:Matt McClain, Rocky Mt. News)
There are also lots of ways to prepare corn on the cob and I’ve tried them all but still prefer boiling the ears for a few minutes using a bit of sugar instead of salt in the water.
Microwaving will also do in a pinch. On the grill is okay but not in the husk. There’s something about the smell of burned corn silk that’s not very appetizing.
Last summer I decided to do a taste test of some of the corn being offered by vendors around town.
One was an old farmer near Vermillion who was set up by the Western Mall. He had the most perfect looking ears I’ve ever seen. They were pretty spendy though..six dollars a dozen, as I recall.  I spent five dollars for a dozen that I bought from the stand at Cliff and 10th…and another dozen from the Hokeness Farm kiosk and flatbed trailer at 10th and Cleveland. The cost there was only a dollar so long as you buy some other produce item at regular price.
We lugged our corn back to KELO and cooked some up in the lunchroom microwave. I then had Healthbeat reporter, Jaine Andrews, sample all three. She found the cheapest to be the best and we all agreed. Then nearly everybody in the newsroom came in to sample or take a few ears home.
Even if the corn that won our little taste test had been turning to silage in the sun on the back of that flatbed all day, it was still the sweetest I’d ever had.
I don’t know how this year’s crop is..we’ve been sort of distracted this summer.
But everyday when I drive by that huge pile of fresh picked sweet corn my mouth starts to water as I wonder how many of the 12 thousand ears they bring in each morning I could eat in one sitting.
I’m feeling a little frisky just thinking about it.
“LINDA, if you’re not busy what are you doing for the next two minutes?”

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