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How Long Should You Grill Corn?

GRILL CORN FOR 8 TO 15 MINUTES, MY %##!!

OK, so you're slightly troubled by the suggested grilling time in another of our well-reasoned and thoughtful answers. We can live with that. Because it allows us to bring up two important points that have been missing from the Ochef corn discussion:

  • Not all corn is created equal
  • Not all people are created equal (with apologies to the US Constitution)

In your corn purchasing career, you are quite likely to run into three broad categories of sweet corn — standard, sugar enhanced, and supersweet — depending on where you live and where it is in the corn growing season. Within each category, you might stumble upon eight to ten varieties — having varying colors or combinations of colors, varying amounts of sugar, amounts of starch, varying thickness of the walls of the pericarp (kernel skin). You may find corn with a very milky liquid when you puncture a kernel with your thumbnail or it may be a clear, watery juice, and either could be acceptable, depending on the variety you've purchased. The corn you buy one day may be fresher than that of another day; it may have been picked at 75 days from planting, instead of 86 days.

With regard to the people discussion, let's just acknowledge that there are those who like to eat corn raw or nearly raw and those who like it several steps past mushy, with everyone else in between. In one Ochef household where corn is most often cooked wrapped in moist paper towels in the microwave oven, the oven is stopped as soon as one family member catches the first whiff of corn aroma. A couple of ears are removed for the sniffer, and the rest of the corn is cooked for three, or five, or seven more minutes — depending on how big the ears are, how many are left in the microwave, and just what the cook feels like at that moment.

We won't even get into considering how hot your grill is vs. how hot another reader's is, and how close your corn is to the coals (or burner) vs. how close someone else's is.

The Weber grill site tells you to grill corn in the husk for 25 to 30 minutes. What inventive swear word do you have lined up for them?

With those endless variables, it is impossible to do more than give broad parameters for grilling corn. We acknowledge that eight minutes could be too long to grill a delicate ear of corn over a very hot grill. To a great extent, people have to try it for themselves and find out what they like. But they may also have to realize that the corn they purchase next week may be significantly different from what they just had, and that even if they cook it just the same, it may not come out the same. We hope that if this is their first or second or third time grilling corn, they are not just going to set a timer and sit on the couch for eight minutes. We hope they will watch over the grill, turn the corn so that it roasts evenly, and take it off the grill when they think it might be done.

Welcome to the infinitely variable world of cooking. It's sometimes a mystery, sometimes a triumph, and even at worst, you can almost always eat your mistakes. Plus you meet the nicest people — and sometimes learn the coolest swear words!



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