Anticipation used to be reserved for things like the last day of school and Christmas. Now it’s things like NFL season, a new John Sanford novel & the arrival of sweet sweet corn from Olathe, (Oh-Lay-Thuh), Colorado. Sweet Basil’s Martie Sullivan is a Colorado girl so this is about the latter.Normally the arrival of sweet corn from Olathe, Colorado would be about a month away right now. But Lynett Yolian with the Olathe Sweet Sweet Corn Festival said that all the rain on Colorado’s Western Slope this spring might push the harvest back just a bit. (The Festival is on August 1st and features live music, arts & crafts, a Beer Garden and ALL THE SWEET CORN YOU CAN EAT. Check out their website or Facebook page.)“Corn” to most of the world is a generic term for a cereal grain. Whatever grain is the region’s cereal staple is called corn. Most of the world calls what we call corn, maize. Maize is the Spanish version of an Indian word, mahiz. Maize originated in southern Mexico. (In the late 70’s there was a popular Mazola Margarine ad featuring a beautiful Apache, Tenaya Torres, standing in a field of corn. She said “You call it corn. We call this maize.”)
Actually, the rest of the story is a bit confusing, too. What we call corn was originally called “Indian Corn” by European settlers because it was an Indian staple. We soon dropped “Indian” and it became known simply as “corn” in most English speaking countries. The multicolored corn we now call Indian Corn is really “flint” corn, so named because it is so hard. It is mostly used for popcorn, hominy and, of course, decoration.
Olathe means “beautiful” in the Shawnee language. So how did a town in Ute Indian country get a Shawnee name? The railroad’s agent in Colorado who suggested the name had just moved to the Colorado town from Olathe, Kansas.
Olathe Sweet Corn (OSC) can come from anywhere a corn growing farmer plants the hybrid seed that was developed in Olathe, Colorado. The seed was named after the town where it was developed. Olathe Sweet Corn that is grown in and around Olathe was named and trademarked Olathe Sweet™ Sweet Corn by Olathe’s Tuxedo Corn Company in 1987.
Some facts about Olathe Sweet Sweet Corn: >>Olathe is located a valley with warm days and cool nights. Corn loves that. >>OSSC must be harvested by hand. The sweet corn is too delicate to withstand the mechanical harvesting machine. >>OSSC is picked and rushed to an icy water bath within an hour to retard the conversion of sugar into starch. Then it is refrigerated.
Some facts for Valley of the Sun OSSC fans: >>Olathe’s average temperature for the day of the Festival – August 1st – is a high of 85 and a low of 58. There are flights from Phoenix to Montrose (11 miles away) through Denver and direct to Grand Junction which is 54 miles away. A great place to get away to in August! >>However you are used to preparing corn, keep a very important fact in mind: sweet corn kernels, definitely OSSC kernels, are much more tender than the more common “field” corn. So follow these steps: >>>>Keep the husk on the corn and refrigerated until ready to cook. >>>>If you are used to all the recipes that talk about 5 or more minutes in boiling water, STOP. Remember those tender kernels. Advice for cooking OSSC ranges between 30 and 90 seconds. There are those who don’t even cook it. But I’d suggest you first try it at 60 seconds and gauge the results. What to put on your OSSC? We don’t like to mask the flavor of OSSC. So just a little sweet butter and some sea salt and away we go. But enjoy it your way, of course. Where and when to look for Olathe Sweet Sweet Corn in the Valley of the Sun: The Kroger Company, which operates Fry’s in the Valley, has an agreement with the Tuxedo Corn Company in Olathe to purchase almost all of each year’s crop. Kroger distributes it around the country. As soon as we know when the OCCS will arrive we’ll post it on Facebook and under What’s Happening on our website. So stay tuned.
Sweet Basil has some corn tools that will make preparing and serving corn faster, safer and – if you are eating indoors – less messy.
Corny fun: Enjoy an ambigram – or “upside down” art – in this ad for Niblets Corn from the back cover of Life Magazine in 1953.