Summer corn — oh, so sweet. Crunchy kernels bursting with juicy sugar makes you think you’re noshing on sugar cane.
Always buy island-grown corn. Hawaii’s farmers grow some super-sweet varieties that can’t be beat. Besides, the fresher the corn, the sweeter it is: With time, sugar in the corn turns to starch. So corn on the cob from the mainland, at least a week old, might not be as sweet even though kept well chilled.
Keeping corn chilled is a good idea when you buy it. It will help to slow down the sugar-to-starch conversion. But even better is to buy corn, cook it and eat it the same day.
Hawaii-grown corn cobs are usually lopped off at the top. There’s a caterpillar that loves to feast on sweet corn, just like we do, so farmers often cut off the top to remove the pest.
Fresh corn needs just a few minutes of steaming to cook; slather it with butter and a sprinkling of salt and start chomping. Cut kernels off the cob, using a sharp knife; toss into a salad, sprinkle over pasta — yes, you can eat it raw. Cook kernels in butter and combine with fresh soybeans for an island-fresh version of succotash.
Hawaii food writer Joan Namkoong offers a weekly tidbit on seasonal products, many of them locally grown. Look for "Fresh Tips" Wednesdays.