Field Fresh Corn


What is the shortest interval that has passed from the time an ear of corn was picked right off the stalk to the time you sink your teeth into freshly cooked corn on the cob? When I spent summers on Long Island as a kid with my sister and her family, we would often buy corn in July at roadside stands and eat it a few hours later. Perhaps in some cases just an hour or two after it had been picked. It left an indelible mark on my food memory banks as it was always the most incredible tasting and sweetest corn I have ever tasted. As soon as corn in picked, the natural sugars in the kernels start to change into starch and the longer corn sits, the more starchy it becomes. In recent years, varieties of corn that prolong the sweetness have improved a lot of fresh corn, but I suspect there is still NOTHING like eating it fresh. And I mean field fresh.


Last Sunday we were driving down from Tagaytay in the early afternoon and I spotten a tractor in the lush cornfields of a University campus near the outskirts of Santa Rosa. I stopped to take a photo and realized the corn was being harvested, brought roadside and was being loaded onto trucks to be hauled away. Quite a few cars had stopped and individuals were being allowed to buy the corn at retail prices. I was so excited to be this close to the freshly picked corn that I immediately told the foreman I wanted to buy 30 ears. At a price of PHP12 each, not cheap, but wickedly fresh.


We were allowed to pick the 30 largest ears of corn we could find, and I have to say they were so fresh that they still had a little bit of sap and stickiness on the bright yellow green husks. A few pieces had a worm or two right up at the top where the corn silk was, and while that might gross some of you out, to me it was a good sign that the fields weren’t heavily sprayed with insecticides. When we removed the husks we just cut off a half inch or so from about 6-8 ears of corn.


From this basket we loaded it into our car, and rushed home, a drive of another 40 minutes. At about 20 minutes from our home, I called the cook and asked her to start a huge pot of water boling on the stove.


When we reached home, we quickly shucked about 8 ears of the corn, and I took several bites of raw corn that were brilliant – juicy and SWEET. A few minutes later the water was ready, then we boiled the corn for just 8-10 minutes and pulled it out.


This was some of the BEST tasting corn I have ever consumed. I figured it was picked some 60-70 minutes earlier and the freshness was palpable. If you come across a pile of freshly picked corn and you have access to a kitchen nearby, don’t miss that chance to enjoy the field fresh corn! And DON’T OVERCOOK it.


51 Responses

  1. Truly defines the meaning of fresh field picked corn and roadside stand store. You cannot get any better offer than this one. I heard from my produce man here and there that refrigeration halts the starch formation of the corn. Guinataang mais with lots of langka pieces is very good. I like it even better the day or two after it’s cooked. Corn soup with lots of chili leaves is also great.

  2. Oh, Maria Clara…you are also a wealth of information!!! Thanks to you, I bought those Red Ruby Queen corn seeds and can hardly wait to plant them. I allotted one of my plots in the Community Grden here ( 10 by 25 feet each plot)…I have 6 of them…one plot willl have these Red Ruby Queen corn.

  3. betty q,
    Try to find some seeds of “Country Gentleman” or “Silver Queen” two older strains of corn not often grown commercially anymore. It is delicious corn, sweet white kernels with a very thin exosperm unlike the supersweet varieties common these days. It was what was planted on LI in the 80’s when Marketman spent the summers in NY. You have to plant at least six rows of corn to produce a decent crop.

  4. Don’t you just love fresh, whole food? I’m glad you took a few bites while raw, to really appreciate the natural sweetness. I know how sweet Long Islands corn can be in the summer, it’s almost unnatural… Have wonderful memories of clambakes by the lake, and the hot corn drenched in seafood juices. YUM.

  5. At the risk of a new discussion on how to boil your corn, how do you do it MM? with a few layers of husk complete with the silk or bare bare.

    I have been reading with amusement the leche flan posts but with a painfully slow internet connection just stayed on the sidelines.

  6. Corn is definitely my favorite taste of summer! Around August our favorite farmer’s co-op has some amazingly sweet harvest. I love the timing/urgency to cook by calling ahead to have water boiling!

  7. Thanks for the advice, Sister….I shall do that as well…luckily all my plots are not side by side, one here , two over there and 4 on the other end… I shall allot 1 plot too, for that Country Gentleman corn seeds.oh,…that would be so pretty too on the bandehado.. …I will have red and white and will trade some of them with the other gardeners for their yellow corn. How I wish summer is already here.

    Hey, mga Mrs. …if anyone of you live closeby to where I am…you are more than welcome to come visit the Coquitlam Community Gardens…Onie, Keiko, and anyone else! Just give me a shout and I will tell you where my plots are! You can helpyourselves with whatever I plant…..vine ripened tomatoes of different COLORS and shapes, weird looking watermelon (square), CORN!!!!,etc. I give majority of the produce to Food Bank as well…

  8. Connie C, if the corn is really fresh, you can just remove most of husks and silk and retain the last 2 layers, soak it in cold water for a few minutes and microwave it for 2minutes per cob. Nuking it retains all the sweetness and juiciness of the corn.

  9. Haha, I passed the same route along AUP from Tagaytay last Monday afternoon. Missed the harvest but we still managed to buy boiled corn from the vendors down the road at P50 per 3 pieces.

  10. MM, silly me, but how can you overcook a corn? what are the signs of an overcooked one? i really like going here are your tips are truly very helpful and informative.

  11. You’ve got good timing MM! Sooooooo close to my home yet I never get the chance to buy corn from those tractors… BooHoo…

  12. reminds me of the corn you grilled during the lechon eyeball MM. it was my carbo load during that time because i like it the way it was. juicy, sweet and with a hint of butter.

    i rarely eat the cooked in water version (we call them TILAOB in bohol).

  13. Hi everyone, if the corn is field fresh, this is how I do boiled corn. Heat up a large pot of water until boiling (this may take 20+ minutes if the pot is really large). then shuck the husks of the corn, and remove the silk and check for wormy worms. Remove those unless you want some protein with your carbohydrates. Then plunge the corn into the hot water and leave it there for just 8-10 minutes max. Don’t overcrowd the pot, you can cook corn in several batches. Take the corn out and let it drain and serve hot. If it’s really good, I like it unadorned. But if it needs a little help, slather it with good butter and sprinkle with salt. If you have extrax, cut it off the cob and use it in soups or as a side dish instead of canned corn kernels or cream style corn. Do NOT overcook. Most commercially sold corn is WAY OVERCOOKED.

  14. Yesterday was the start of a heatwave 43degrees C here in Adelaide, South Australia and to avoid our backyard corn being burnt by the searing hot wind we harvested some and cooked them for 3 min. in boiling unsalted water and they were extremely delicious. Nothing beats freshly picked and cooked corn. Today’s weather is 44 deg C and more hot weather for at least a week,bugger!

    MM,glad to see that you’re up and blogging again!

  15. I introduced my wife to fresh corn the first summer after we met. I planted a garden in the back yard. The fresh corn was such a treat that she’d insist that I wait until the pot of water was near a boil before going out to pick a few ears. She wanted every last bit of that sweet, fresh corn taste!

  16. WOW! Super jealous. I am a corn monster and have never tried minutes fresh, raw corn. I am partial to the native variety though. Sad to say, most are into the “japanese” sweet corn variety and the white sticky ones are becoming harder to find. They are best in corn chowder.

  17. When we were kids, my Dad would bring us to the corn farm then we would shuck the corn ears. He would impale them on long sticks and then insert the other end into the ground then we cover the whole thing with dried palay stalks. My Dad would then set the hay on fire. When the fire died down, we would enjoy the best tasting ears of roasted corn ever!

  18. Hay, I just remembered an appy we used to make at the restaurant…custard made with corn and smoked salmon. …SAVOURY LECHE FLAN. Try it, MM ….this one always got rave reviews that a typewritten recipe is already done since customers request for them.

    Yield, 6 ramekins.

    In a blender, puree 1 cup of fresh corn kernels…you can use frozen as well. When it is liquified transfer to a bowl and add:1/2 cup milk, 1 cup cream, 3 large yolks, 1 egg, 3 tbsp. flour. Whisk this until blended. Then pour into your prepared ramekins (buttered and botttom lined with parchment papre circles.

    Chop 1 cup smoked salmon and put few pieces in the ramekins. Pour custard and bake bain marie 325 degrees until custards are set.

    Make a curry sauce : in a pot, pour 2 cups fish stock or bottled clam juice. Add about 1/2 tbsp. curry powder and reduce it until half. Add 1/2 cup cream and boil until reduced to sauce consistency.

    Unmould the savoury leche flan and nap the sauce on top or drizzled around it on the plate.

  19. Fresh Corn ….it brings back memories when I was still a kid. My lolo used to bring me to his corn field and right there and there we will grill it. Yummy!!!! BTW have you guys tried the local corn variety. It’s white and sticky, I actually doesn’t like them when I was a kid but I kinda missed it now since I can’t find it my location.

  20. waaah!! i saw this last sunday too! but we were in such a hurry to go back to manila, we didn’t have time to stop! aaarg!!

  21. got so frustrated once because hubby wouldn’t stop in all the right places on the road from tagaytay to sta rosa…swore that i would do the driving next time so i can stop wherever i want…these things are too good to miss…

  22. Jenny: I got to tell this…talk about…out of this world things! I like ripe avocado with milk and touch of sugar… one time, the avocados needed to be used. So, I made a cheesecake out of it for the staff. They thought I went bonkers. I told not to write it off until they tasted it. They ate their words!

  23. Hi. I’m glad you are blogging again.

    My family loves corn. Most of the time, we buy the sweet corn sold in the groceries. Sometime ago, we noticed that, at times, the corn would not be sweet. I complained about it to one of the grocery attendants and she told me that corn looses its sweetness after about four days. So, she advised me to cook the corn on the day we buy it. She also said that we should boil the water first, and when the water reaches boiling point, put the corn in the boiling water and let it stay there for 5 to 7 minutes only. I took her advise and it works.

    After reading this article, I am curious to try freshly picked white corn that are sold in the market. The ones that taste bland and are stick. I wonder what they would taste like if they are a little sweet.

  24. this is the true essence of eating and supporting local growers. if only there were more access in the philippines to farm to fork eating. thanks for sharing marketman!

  25. Great to know the technique on how little time boiling corn needs…am actually overcooking mine everytime…hahaha..thanks MM..not a great fan of corn but if I get hold of good fresh ones will boil that way….

  26. Betty Q, Country Gentleman and Silver Queen are not popular anymore with farmers because it has a longer growing period and less yield than super sweet hybrids but well worth it for the home gardener.

  27. Bettyq: Your salmon custard sounds very doable and excellent. Smoked/tinapang bangus will be a good substitute and instead of cream – carabao milk will also work? Thanks again for your feedback.

  28. Sister…how long is longer growing period? We have short summers here in B.C….but I think it is still doable if I start the seeds indoors way ahead of time. I say if there is a will, there is a way!

    MC, OH, I think carabao milk is awesome…but where in the world will you be able to get carabao milk in CA? Her in B.C. there is a dairy farmer at the Island who has a herd of water buffalo and started making cheese locally. I would LOVE TO GET MY HANDS on some of the carabao milk!

  29. Bettyq: It’s for my sister back home who is so tight with her money but loves good food and will definitely give her a new mouth feel and taste of creamy silky. She is bragging her tinapang bangus lumpiang shanghai so I believe this will be a good break for her. I am also thinking tinapang galungong or hasa hasa will work not as bony as the bangus.

  30. Oh, is there tinapang tawilis? or is that tunsoy?

    MarketFan: your husband and my husband MUST BE RELATED!!! He is also EXACTLY the same way…misses all the fruit stands I would like to check out along the way…always saying on our way back to remind him…only to miss them again!!!

    Oh, MC…yeah, tell your sister to make this …and how about adding coconut milk to the curry sauce ..just a touch…Does she use a piping bag for her Lumpia Shanghai?…way easier and faster.

  31. Bettyq: How do you use a piping bag for lumpia? Do you also put in the plain tip? I tried it once when you mentioned it in previous comments but I could not really get the execution part of it. Can you elaborate and expand please in how to use of piping bag in filling in lumpia and suman? I am not successful in my endeavors. Thanks any for your help.

  32. MC…if you can get the disposable one, much better I think kasi the meat doesn’t get caught in between the seam, …no tip at all…you have to sacrifice a piping bag kasi you will cut the end to the desired size you want..I’d say 1/4 inch diameter because you can cut them bigger if the hole is too small when you pipe the meat mixture. I have one plastic disposable bag for only lumpia and another one for only Suman. In no time at all you can finish 200 lumpias while watching your favorite soap opera!…Picture this…on a clean counter, lay your lumpia wrapper 10 at a time like an assembly line and PIPE AWAY to the desired length you want and brush the ends with flour paste or eggwhite or whatever you use to seal them….You will be amazed at how fast it takes that you will want to make lumpia every other day!

  33. Some of the older corn varieties lost popularity not because (or only because) of longer growing times, but for reasons such as color (white vs. yellow corn goes through waves of public preference), resistance to disease or pests, plant height and strength (weak stalks fall over). I think many of the modern varieties, whether hybrid or open-pollinated, sacrifice true pure corn flavor for plain sweetness. I like a balance, not just sweetness.

    If you can get seed, try Buhl, Stowell’s Evergreen White, Orchard Baby, or Golden Bantam. Some of the best sweet corn I’ve had was Rainbow Inca, harvested young before starch production increased. Be famliar with your wind patterns and plant your corn to maximize pollination.

    Cooking…generally I simply drop shucked/desilked ears into a big pot of water at a rolling boil (don’t crowd the ears!) and cook for no more than 3 minutes. More than 5 minutes is overkill for me.

    Corn silk is useful for a tea (good for the urinary tract).

    If you have an overabundance of sweet corn or are tired of eating it plain (unlikely in my case!), try the Louisianan dish called Maque Choux, fresh sweet corn stewed with tomatoes…it is the essence of summer.

  34. Kurzhaar: Have you tried the new variety called Mirai? I wanted to try planting it last year but couldn’t…health problems. But this year, I think I will try planting it as well as the Silver Queen and Red Ruby. I have asked the local nursery and they told me, Sister, that they carry the Silver Queen transplants in the spring.

  35. Sister, I just came from a Nursery today and bought 2 packages each of Red Ruby and Silver Queen corn, to be send to my cousin in Pinas, gusto ko kasi pag-uwi ko ng May fresh corn yung kakanin ko. I told him to plant it in my Nanay’s farm in Quezon. Bettyq, hindi pa nga ako nakaka-umpisang magluto ng mga recipe mo, here you go with this custard, umm, sounds yummmy, as Crissie said. And wow, gusto mo rin palang mag-tanim, naku sabihin ko talaga sa husband ko lumipat na kami ng malapit sa inyo, hehehe.

  36. Ebba: magpadala ka rin ng corn seeds na MIRAI…comes in yellow, bicolor or white din. Kung wala sa nursery, meron sa mga seed companies lalo na diyan sa inyo sa States.

  37. bettyq, thanks ulit. I have a subscription of “burpees” check ko siya mamaya. Medio alanganin nga lang ako kung maka-habol pa ako sa planting season sa Quezon. Kasi March yata kailangan naitanim na, tamang-tama ang harvest before the heat of May months. Tagal kasi ng balikbayan dito, 40 days before delivery. Pero basta I will buy those seeds you are talking about.

  38. Tis brings back my childhood memories when my grandma was still alive and she had her whole front and backyard planted with native corn. When she’s out attending mass, we would sneak and tore some corn ears to boil or roast. By the time my grandma arrives, all the traces of our little escapades is no longer visible. She would only know about it when we would harvest the corn when she would find bare stalks.

    Sometimes, she would make “pinalusang” a shredded corn boiled in water. She would use the sticky variety because the water would turn out to be syrupy and sweet when the corn is cooked.

  39. hi good day… i just want to advertize that we also sell fresh sweet corn in davao city.
    n we can supply 6,000 to 8,000 kilo a text only.09281857205.



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