I never understood what you are supposed to be looking for.

I see everyone peeling back the leaves on corn . What am I supposed to be looking for ? I do it just because. I don’t feel there is a need . Do you smell the cantaloupe or tap the watermelon for ripeness also ? Just wondering . I look for the one I like ,that’s it.

Well, if you don’t live in the magical land of Pristine Produce you peel it back to see if the tip is dry or wrinkled or rotten or crumbly (all first hand experiences in nyc).

I smell cantaloupes, and they should have some give to them when ripe- not hard like an apple. And watermelon i pick up and knock on it- ahould be heavy for the size and sound almost hollow, hard to describe. I have a 70/30 success rate with any melons though… (and i always check stickers for where watermelon comes from, the closer the better)


Corn is like fortune cookie. You peel back and it will give you an insight of your future, but you need to be educated in the art of fortune reading and you need to peel many more to get an accurate reading. In fact, if you peel many many of them, you can even change the future. This is why many people peel one after another. I am not versed in the art of fortune reading, so I don’t peel. You need to acquire this wisdom through age, youngsters cannot do this, which is why you see more elders do this.

I do toss cantaloupe and watermelon up and down because it is fun.



As someone raised in corngrowing country…

You peel the husks back to make sure not only that they aren’t dried out or crumbly, but that the kernels are fully formed to the tip of the ear, and that the kernels are tight and fresh, not dimpled and dehydrated.

The sugars in corn begin to confer to starches as soon as it is harvested, so the fresher it is, the sweeter it will be.

And heck yeah I smell the cantaloupe.


Doesn’t the outside husk tell you about the corn , and the silk .

Not necessarily. It is much more difficult to tell if the kernels are fully formed, and it is possible for the store to keep the husk moist to make it look fresher.

I’ve come across ears that were covered in smut (a harmless but nasty looking fungus) and ears where the kernels even in the main part of the ear were scraggly with lots of gaps


I let my nose be my guide with all fresh produce. When you smell corn it should smell like the field it was picked from, if it doesnt dont bother peeling anything back. Pineapple is another good example.

Before a visual inspection, smell it.

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When Michigan sweet corn starts showing up, our Kroger dedicates a lot of space for it in the stores Produce Department. They also provide a gi-normous container that allows a shopper to husk it right there. I husk it, right there, and know that I’m getting ears that are un-blemished.

Wouldn’t you really really want that smut, if you are talking about huitlacoche?


Not just no, a resounding hell no.

Smut (no matter what you call it) ruins crops and renders the harvest inedible to animals and most humans.

I’ve seen people – family and friends – lose their income for the year over it – and I don’t eat it. It’s rot.

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Are there different types of smuts here? Because if its this kind, which is huitlacoche:

It actually fetches a much higher price than the corn (like mushroom-like prices), and its sold all around Mexico and make occasional sightings in frozen form in markets in the US.

A group of agricultural researchers from, if I remember correctly, University of Wisconsin, figured out a way to reliably infect the corn to create huitlacoche to provide farmers better income.

ETA: though I can understand if there is not a market for it / or appreciation of its use, it can cause income loss for the farmer.


I’m not really looking, I’m poking. A fingernail to one kernel–if it pops and “spits” at me, it’s a keeper. If it doesn’t yield, or it doesn’t spit, I don’t want it.


But plenty of people DO eat it in Mexico. People eat it in higher end Mexican restaurants in the US and you can buy canned huitlacoche in any Spanish grocery. Potentially it could be sold as a luxury item to the restaurant market for a higher price than the uninfected corn - but that would require a buyer-distribution network that has been a slow starter in the US.


This dropped into my email inbox a bit ago, and I thought it noteworthy enough to send it on to all of my family and most of my friends…

There are also pages upon pages in a Google search that absolutely support “sterilizing” produce and fruits before serving.


I have to check for mould under the silk. Sometimes the kernels are too small.

Btw, where’s the “hacks/tips” thread? I couldn’t find it.

Can anyone confirm this? My main criteria is the weight.



So you just leave a swath of bruised and battered cobs in your wake? You let the next guy buy your rejects contaminated with the dirt from under your fingernails?

I hope we’re not shopping in the same stores!


I think the bottom photo is true.

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Ummm . . . no. I peek at the cob. I poke 1 kernel (out of hundreds) with one clean fingernail. There is no swath of bruised and battered cobs. It was how mom taught me to pick corn and how grandma taught her. Oh, and I wash my hands regularly and wash my fruits and veggies before preparing them.

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The bottom one has held true for me - better than tapping for sound. Explanation I’ve heard is that a bigger yellow spot means the melon has been sitting on the ground longer, and is more likely to be ripe and sweet.

The shape… I’ve seen large oval ones and small round ones (and interesting pictures of square ones that are constrained to grow that way!)