Raw Corn Is Like Peach

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raw-corn_cWe think of corn as a vegetable, but it's also a grain or a seed that's picked before maturity, says University of Florida horticulture professor Stephen Olson. And like other seeds that we eat raw -- think sugar snap peas with their crunchy pods and delicate fleshy globes -- raw corn bursts with succulence.

 


By Michele Kayal

Husk that corn! And leave it at that.

We love our summer corn grilled, boiled, steamed and slathered, but raw corn -- that's right, no cooking -- is nature's candy.

We think of corn as a vegetable, but it's also a grain or a seed that's picked before maturity, says University of Florida horticulture professor Stephen Olson. And like other seeds that we eat raw -- think sugar snap peas with their crunchy pods and delicate fleshy globes -- raw corn bursts with succulence.

Most vegetables are cooked to make them tender. But since raw corn is an immature seed, the kernels' outer covering is still baby soft. Cooking will actually solidify the starches and make the kernels firm. "It's more tender raw than cooked," Olson says.

Chomping into a fresh ear of corn will reward you with a mouthful of sugary bursts. But dressier presentations may be better suited for guests and can highlight the corn's sweetness.

Nick Ritchie, chef de cuisine at Napa Valley's trendy Bottega restaurant, strips the kernels and tosses them into a salad with peppery arugula. But to extract their maximum essence, Ritchie juices the raw kernels and creates a chilled soup to accompany crispy fried soft-shell crabs.

"If you've ever taken a bite off a cob that's raw, it's like biting into a peach," Ritchie says. "You get juice running down your arms and dripping off your chin. That's why I like raw corn so much in the hot weather. It's very refreshing. It's almost like fruit."

To store fresh corn for four or five days, strip the husks, wrap the ears in moist paper towels, place them in a zip-close plastic bag and refrigerate.

Try raw corn kernels sprinkled over salads, as a garnish on a chilled soup or mixed into a soft cheese to create a mild sweet-and-savory spread for toasted slices of baguette.


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