Summertime in Maine means lakeside play, ice cream stand visits, and fresh seafood. It also means sweet corn!

At Sandy River Farms in Farmington, Maine I picked up my first of the season, dozen ears of corn this week. They won’t sell anything that isn’t fresh and the best quality.

At dinner that night, with each bite, the freshly cooked kernels burst with delicious sweetness! There were collective groans of satisfaction. Corn-on-the-cob may not be glamorous to look at, but the experience of eating it is uncomparable.

In my youngster years, in the backseat of my parent’s Dodge sedan, I’d look forward to stopping at Farmington’s Pike’s farm on the way home from church. Mom would drive up to the unattended stand, drop her money in the can, and select thirteen ears. Thirteen ears, not twelve, because in those days you were sold a baker’s dozen.

My first advice for buying corn is don’t be that person!

Don’t be the one who pulls the husk back then tosses the whole thing aside and keeps doing that until they find what they think is the perfect ear. There is no perfect ear, but there are perfect, dirty stares that you’ll get for practicing such an egregious act!

Next, unless you’re going directly to cook it someplace immediately, don’t be that person who shucks their corn and discards it for someone else to pick up. Unless of course, the seller genuinely says it’s okay and will use the husks. Still, if you don’t cook it right off, the ears will dry out quickly without their protective “Mother Nature” packaging.

Instead of “peeking” before buying:

  • Towards the top of the ear, look for tiny brown holes in the husk. Those are wormholes. Worms are not your friends.
  • Feel the kernels through the husk. Make sure they are plentiful and plump. Feel for spaces where the kernels should be. Too many spaces? Choose another.
  • A brown, dry tassel is a sign of old corn. Tassels should be sticky, moist, and silky.
  • The husk should be a bright green and tight around the ear.

  • Buy as local as possible. Fresh corn doesn’t keep long. The closer to home you buy your corn, the better the flavor will be.
  • Once you get your corn home, keep the corn chilled to slow dehydration and shriveling. Prolonged heat will cause the sugar in the kernels to turn to starch – making the corn taste less sweet.

While at the local farm market, don’t forget to pick up other products. Buying local enhances local communities.