Frank on Food
Ah, sweet corn! Fresh from the field, cooked to perfection, lavishly slathered with gobs of butter, a smattering of salt and a bit of black pepper. I ask you, dear reader, what could possibly be better on a warm summer evening in August?

Quite frankly, nothing beats the wonderful taste of a plump ear of sweet corn! But let me offer a word of caution. Once sweet corn is picked, it has to be refrigerated to prevent its sugar from converting to starch. Until now, conventional wisdom has held that sweet corn be cooked and eaten on the day it’s purchased. Heat accelerates the conversion of sugar to starch, and in one day, sweet corn exposed to direct sunlight, or at a temperature of 86 degrees F, can lose a whopping 50 percent of its sugar. Bizarre as it may sound, the quality of sweet corn purchased at Jewel or Dominick’s, which is shipped in refrigerated trucks as soon as it’s picked, is consistently better (and usually at a better price) than the corn you get at a farmers market.

Until now!

Twin Garden Farms, a third generation, family-owned farm in Harvard since 1954, has developed a new hybrid variety of sweet corn that has lovers of America’s favorite cereal grain smacking their collective lips. Kept in the refrigerator, Twin Gardens guarantees their corn will remain sweet and crisp for up to 10 days. When this remarkable hybrid was introduced to Japan where it is actually eaten as a fruit, the Japanese straight away named it “Mirai,” meaning “Taste of the Future.” Believe it or not, you can even eat Mirai sweet corn raw with surprising satisfaction.

So where do you get it? Try a farmers market, which have gained increasingly in popularity in recent years and have opened in more communities throughout the area, offering shoppers a convenient variety of locations and hours of operation.

Locally, and to my surprise, Mirai sweet corn is not available at the Oak Park Farmers Market (yet) at the corner of Lake Street and Elmwood Avenue on Saturday mornings. But not to worry, this super sweet corn is available at the Oak Park Mid-Week Market, which is held on Wednesdays from 4 to 9 p.m. in the parking lot at Lake Street and Harlem Avenue, or at the Forest Park Farmers Market, which is open from 3 to 7 p.m. every other Friday at the Forest Park Community Center, Jackson Boulevard and Desplaines Avenue in Forest Park. This is Forest Park’s first year doing a Friday evening market and if successful, they will be doing it every Friday next year. I strongly urge your support for this quaint and convenient market.

Incidentally, sweet corn cooked in a microwave oven is fast and convenient with no loss of quality. Simply cook the sweet corn in the husk for two minutes per ear at the highest setting. Don’t do more than three ears at a time (six minutes).

You can take my word for it, this is a winner. Mirai sweet corn is the sweetest, highest quality, most tender sweet corn you will ever eat!

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Frank Chlumsky

Frank Chlumsky, former executive chef of Philander's restaurant in Oak Park, teaches in Chicago at Kendall College's School of Culinary Arts. In his 37-year career, Frank has owned restaurants in Michigan...