• Sweetcorn
Sweetcorn
Also known as maize and corn-on-the-cob, sweetcorn is a staple in many parts of America and South America, and a popular addition to Asian stir-fries and soups. Home-grown British corn cobs come into their own during August and September.
Although you can buy corn kernels in frozen packets and cans, they're at their best when eaten straight from the cob.

The fresher the cob, the sweeter and juicier its flavour. Mass produced varieties, sold in supermarkets, don't really do it justice.

Baby corn are eaten whole, and often used in stir fries. Kernels can be scraped off the cob and used in soups, or braised with other vegetables such as peas, red peppers and mushrooms.

Because the kernels are so starchy, they're good for thickening soups and sauces.

In the kitchen
To test for ripeness, pierce a kernel with your thumbnail - if it gives out milky juice, it's ready to cook.

When separating kernels from the cob, you'll need to strip away the outer leaves and get rid of any wispy straw-like strands. Using a sharp knife, cut down along the husk, prising out any kernels as you go. It's not as time-consuming as it sounds!

Hold-back on adding salt to the boiling water when cooking the cobs, as it tends to make it tough. A pinch of sugar is a better bet, as it enhances the natural flavour.

Depending on how tender the sweetcorn is, you'll probably need about 10-15 minutes boiling time. Allow around 10 minutes on a barbecue, and 5-7 minutes, if cooking small corn-on-the-cob chunks in a microwave oven.

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