How to Harvest Sweet Corn

 

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Sweet corn takes a great deal of time and garden space to reach its perfect picking condition. After weeks of watering and watching, we can’t wait to harvest our beloved ears. Before beginning your harvest, here are essential guidelines for picking some prime produce. 

 

When is sweet corn ready to pick?

 

Corn can be harvested at approximately 20 days after silks first appear. When ready for harvesting, silks should be brown and husks should still be green.

To ensure corn is ripe, puncture a small kernel near the top of the ear. A milky substance should emerge if the corn is ready. If the substance is clear, corn is not yet ready. If the corn is dry, it has exceeded the ideal harvest window.

Another way to tell if your corn is ready (without peeling back the husks) is to feel the end of the cob on the end with the silks. If the tip feels pointy, it isn't mature yet, but if it is more rounded, your corn is ready. 

Harvesting Tips:

  • Most stalks should have approximately 2 ears, one near the top and another lower down. When harvesting, twist the ear (ouch!) and pull firmly downwards away from the stalk. 
  • For optimal flavor, harvest in the morning and take only as much as you can eat. Leaving the corn on its stalk will keep it fresh. Just be sure to harvest the entire crop while still in the milky stage.

Too much sweet corn, all at once?

Try blanching and freezing your corn if it’s too much to consume at the time of harvest, and enjoy those yummy kernels long past the short growing season.

To blanch: 

  • Shuck the cobs, discarding the silks and husks. Place cobs into a large pot of (lightly salted) boiling water and cook for about 4 minutes. 
  • Using a pair of tongs, remove the corn cobs from boiling water and into a prepared ice water bath to immediately cool, and stop the cooking process. 
  • Once the cobs are fully cooled, cut the kernels off of the cob and store in containers or freezer-grade bags. 
  • Enjoy your homegrown sweet corn all year round in soups, salads, enchiladas, you name it!

 

Nothing tastes more like summer than sweet corn.

Happy harvesting!