Bonnie Aeschliman: Try microwave to remove pesky silk from ears of corn

06/26/2012 5:00 AM

06/27/2012 6:24 AM

Fresh corn stands popping up in parking lots across town tells me it is good ole summertime in Kansas.

If corn was not in my menu plans, suddenly my menu changes, and I will find a way to include it as I know the season is never long enough.

Did you ever wonder why fresh corn tastes so good? It is because it is fresh: The sugars in the corn have not yet turned into starch. The very best sweet corn will be those ears you pluck yourself from the stalk, but we all are not so fortunate to have our own garden. The next best thing will be homegrown sweet corn from a local vendor. For the very sweetest taste, use it right away. Yes, you can store corn in the refrigerator for several days, but the sugars will begin to convert to starch. The longer the ear is off the stalk, the less sweet it becomes.

There are many ways to prepare fresh corn. The child in me likes it right on the ear, slathered with butter and a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper. When food tastes that good, simple preparation is in order. But sometimes my southern roots crave the creamed corn mama made. She would cut about three-fourths of the top of the corn kernels off the cob, leaving the bottom part on the cob. Then she would go back with her knife and scrape the sweet, starchy juices from the remaining cut corn into a cast iron skillet. Those starchy juices made the creamy sauce as the corn cooked down. I am sure she added a little cream to the mixture and let it cook down; then seasoned it liberally with salt and pepper.

Using fresh corn does have its challenges as evidenced by this question.

Q. Do you have any tips for cleaning ears of corn?

A. By cleaning ears, I presume you mean removing the pesky silk. My new favorite way is the microwave. It is fast and easy, and the corn goes in the microwave — husk, silk and all. I generally am not a big proponent of microwave cooking, but this method does have its merits. The corn will cook in the husk with its own natural moisture. When done, the husks and silk tend to fall off easily once the corn is cooked.

Remember, this is a guide. The exact time will depend upon the wattage of your individual microwave as well as the weight of each ear of corn.

Place corn on a dampened paper towel in a spoke-like arrangement. If your microwave does not have a turn table, turn ears over and rearrange after half the cooking time.

•  1 ear: 1 1/2 minutes

•  2 ears: 3 to 4 minutes

•  3 ears: 5 to 6 minutes

•  4 ears: 7 to 8 minutes

When the corn is hot to the touch, remove and wrap in a kitchen towel and let stand for five minutes for cooking to continue. The husks and silk will come right off. Serve with butter, salt and pepper.

If you don’t have a microwave or have a different application for cooking ears of corn, here is an alternate method for removing the silk: Remove and discard the husks. Use a paper towel and rub in the silk in the opposite direction to eliminate it. This will remove most of it. To dislodge the last stubborn ones, use a small vegetable brush to brush them away.

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