Corn: classic American summer vegetable

Published 11:00 am Wednesday, April 27, 2011

By SUSAN GREEN / Guest Columnist

I’ve given this a fair amount of thought and frankly, I’m torn. Like most healthy, normal corn-loving folk, I like my summer-fresh corn on the cob pretty much drenched in butter with a healthy sprinkling of salt. Then again, I can also do a complete 180 degree turn and be perfectly happy with a plain old ear of corn au naturel, as we say… I’ve been known to grill my corn on the cob! I’ve grilled it in the husk with one or another of some kind of compound butter and I’ve grilled it without the husk, too! I’ve boiled my ears of corn on the cob and oh! I’ve also buried them in an ocean-side clam pit in the true traditions of the New England Clam Bake. And I confess to you — I’ve loved them all.

One thing I have never done is steam my corn on the cob and I’m not sure why, corn is one of the most versatile of all of the classic American summer vegetables and steaming is surely one of the best ways to preserve the pure corn flavor and texture. In fact, it’s a natural combination!

The beauty of steaming vegetables lays in its simplicity. It keeps vegetables more crisp, helps to preserve color and texture, and helps to retain nutrients better. Green and yellow vegetables contain vitamins that are water-soluble so when they’re steamed, they’re much healthier. All of this leads to better taste, of course (and quite possibly more butter.)

We carry a few different types of steaming baskets here at the shop, and frankly, one is just as great as the next. If you do any steaming, make sure your steamer basket is made of stainless steel so that it doesn’t rust. It should fit in a pot that is deep and wide with a tight fitting lid. Two more things: 1. Make sure your steamer basket sits up so that your vegetables aren’t sitting in boiling water and, 2. A steam burn is much more profound than any other burn so when you lift the lid, do so at a safe distance and tip the lid away from your face to avoid the hot steam from coming your way.

Susan Green is the owner of Birmingham Bake & Cook off Valleydale Road in Inverness.