Ask just about anybody with teeth what their favorite food in Minnesota is and they will tell you corn on the cob – no not lutefisk! This time in July is about the start of the sweet corn season which will continue into early September. People not from the Midwest will wonder what the big deal is as you can buy corn on the cob at grocery stores all over and there is also canned corn on the cob to be found year round which here in Minnesota we believe should be declared illegal it is so bad! There is nothing better than picking up a dozen ears (most stands still give you the 13th ear for free) at your favorite roadside stand and having it with supper! If you just drive out of the city a few minutes you will find the corn stands springing up along the roadsides. The best stands are those where the farmer in his tracktor drops off a trailer full of corn with some of his kids in the morning and the kids bag and sell to you right off the wagon. Some places like Pahl’s Market in Apple Valley sell so much sweet corn that they installed a drive through window just for buying sweet corn!
Sweet corn is easy to prepare. Just husk the ears and remove the silk, this is best done outside so you don’t end up with silk all over your house, place the ears in boiling water for 3-4 minutes until the kernels become bright yellow and serve. You can also grill your corn on the cob. There are many, many ways to cook sweet corn, just experiment and see what you like best. Most eat their corn with butter and some add salt. Since we take this corn on the cob eating so seriously most of us have several sets of handles to plug into the ends of the corn to keep your fingers clean and make the cob more manageable and many have corn dishes where the melted butter falls to the bottom and you can just roll the ear in the melted butter before eating.
Yes, Minnesota is a farming state and that means we have more than just corn on the cob at this time of year. Almost every city has a farmers market one day a week where you can stop by and purchase the fresh in season produce right from the farmers. If this is not convenient for you Sever’s has many small fruit and vegetable stands in store parking lots around the cities. They offer fresh produce as well. For a list of farmers markets click here.
For adventurous souls, there are also pick your own farms, mostly for berries. This can be an especially good deal if you can’t wait to get home and eat the produce – the one in the bucket, one in the mouth technique works quite well! Most farms weigh in your containers and not the pickers, so no worries!
For those really into fresh, natural foods, canning is also fairly common here in Minnesota. This time of year most grocery stores stock up on jars and lids so you can make your own jams and jellies, canned corn, tomato sauce or whatever tickles your fancy.
One of the best things about living in Minnesota is that you can live in the city or in a suburb and within a few driving minutes you can be out in the country and find farms galore many selling fresh products galore to the “city folk”.