Corn arrives for summer enjoyment

While the summer weather seems slow to get started, corn lovers are being treated to an early start to the season and a high quality crop.

Cathy Pierce shops for corn from DeMille’s Farm Market.

Cathy Pierce shops for corn from DeMille’s Farm Market.

It’s just not summer without corn on the cob.

And while the summer weather seems slow to get started, corn lovers of all ages have been treated to an early start to the season and a high quality crop.

Brad DeMille, of DeMille’s Farm Market, is a corn connoisseur. He says corn started appearing on the shelves in the third week of July, which is about a week or two ahead of schedule, delighting those who adore a cob of golden goodness.

Currently both the yellow and peaches-and-cream varieties are available, but DeMille recommends the yellow at this time, saying he believes it has the best flavour at the moment.

“We had a warmer March, April and May, which really allowed the crop to get growing,” said DeMille. “And then things have kind of been a bit backwards with the weather, with some cooler temperatures and rain.”

DeMille says this has actually been beneficial for the quality of the corn, because it has reduced the need for irrigation of the crop.

“When you don’t have to water the crop constantly to protect it from the heat, it gives the corn a better, sweeter taste. When you have to water constantly, you are literally washing some of the flavour of the corn away.”

Then, some of the warmth of the afternoons has helped with ripening.

Soil quality is critical in growing a good corn crop, and DeMille says the corn at his farm is helped by the underlayer of clay below the fields. This helps to hold the water in the soil, allowing the roots of the corn to be strong and healthy.

Seed is also critical, with DeMille noting they pride themselves on starting with good seed.

“You can tell the difference,” he says. “Top seed produces top plants, which grow great tasting corn. Cheap seed, means poor quality product.”

There can be some worry for the corn lover. While the season started early, DeMille is hoping it will not end early as well.

“It’s been going to 12 degrees at night already, so I am a little scared of an early frost. Barring that, we should have excellent corn available all through September. But with the weather this summer, who knows? They say only fools and newcomers predict the weather.”

Top tips for cooking corn

If anyone should know how to prepare stellar corn on the cob, it should be Brad DeMille, who grows, and eats, some of the best corn in the region.

To prepare some flawless ears, DeMille suggests turning to the barbecue.

• Clean off the ears of corn in their husks

• Soak the corn (with the husk still on) in water for half an hour.

• Barbecue the corn until the outside layers are charred.

“It’s really hot, but it steams so nice and the barbecue gives it a smokey flavour that is so delicious,” says DeMille. “It’s a bit messy, but so worth it.”

If you do boil corn, DeMille says the biggest issue is overdoing it.

“If your water is at a rolling boil, you only need about three to four minutes. That’s it. Most people will do 10 or 15 and that is just cooking the life out of it. It’s dead already, no need to go boiling it to death.”

To prepare corn for a large party of 20 to 40 people, DeMille’ has a terrific trick.

• Shuck all the corn

• Put it in a clean Coleman cooler

• Pour boiling water over the corn, close the lid and let it sit for approximately two hours.

• Drain the cooler and leave the hot corn inside until ready to serve.

“It’s the ultimate party secret. Then you get perfect corn and it’s all ready at once, instead of trying to boil it in pots doing multiple batches.”

In addition to how to cook corn, DeMille has some definite preferences for serving.

“Only ever use real butter. Nothing else even comes close,” he says.

He also recommends adding a hot sauce for something different, and to give a Spanish or Meican flavour.

“It’s a great new way to enjoy corn and take a break from the traditional butter, salt and pepper.”

DeMille particularly recommends another BC product, Sophie’s Hot Sauce, which is sold at the farm market.

It’s a picante sauce, which is halfway between a hot sauce and a salsa.

“It’s going out of here like hotcakes,” he says.

“And it is terrific on corn.”