Culinary Chronicles: BBQ Corn

Every summer our family can hardly wait for the local corn to start rolling in. The corn season seems to mark the unofficial beginning of summer- it signals warm weather and barbecue season! Nothing is better than eating corn on the cob on a summer night around an outdoor picnic. All that being said, there are just some things we wonder about: which is better, yellow corn or white corn?


Selective History

Many of us have heard the story of corn as part of our own human history. Yuval Harari stated it plainly in his stunning novel Sapiens: "with all our advanced technologies, more than 90 percent of the calories that feed humanity come from the handful of plants our ancestors domesticated between 9,000 and 3,500 BC- wheat, rice, maize (called corn in the U.S.), potatoes, millet, and barley." Corn has been with our American ancestors since the dawn of human agriculture.

Ancient Mexican farmers selected time and time again from a grass known as teosinte seeds that grew larger than others, faster than others, had bigger kernels that others. This selective breeding process that began with a simple grass modified the plant for its most desirable characteristics, finally producing what we know as 'corn' today. Corn is now so ubiquitous in American culture that we not only enjoy the ears fresh themselves, but our children grow up eating cereal made of corn, we cook using corn oil, and corn syrup is used as a sugar cane substitute.


Yellow VS White

Yellow corn and white corn are both types of sweet corn. The biggest difference between the two is the extra beta carotene that lends the yellow corn its extra pigment. This small additional nutrient is converted to Vitamin A during digestion and may give yellow corn a slight edge in terms of nutrition. Overall, however, the two corns are almost identical.

Yellow VS White

You may have also seen that corn can come in a multitude of colors, from red to brown the blue. Just like with you've heard with colorful blueberries and dark leafy greens, those colors indicate the presence of anthocyanins (an-tho-si-ah-nins), a type of flavonoid that can help the body fight inflammation, high blood pressure, and reduce the risk of major health issues like cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

Both yellow and white corn have been systematically bred since the late 1700's to stay sweet. After 200 years of breeding, all sweet corn now has more sugar than its ancestors once did- some sweet varieties have three times as much sugar as their ancestors! In the attempt to breed more sweetness into the ears, corn has also gained the ability to last longer once harvested, and yet sacrificed some of the creaminess its forerunners once had.


The Many Ways To Cook Corn

There are a lot of ways to cook corn. Boiling corn on the stove in a pot of water is a classic way of preparation; though there is the ongoing debate, milk or no milk in that pot?! This recipe is a little different in that the corn is cooked on the grill.

That sounds so easy, right? Just throw the corn on the grill! There are a few different methods people employ when grilling corn, and by far, our favorite is grilling the corn wrapped in foil. Grilled corn can be grilled directly over a flame, no husk or foil, and that method brings out a nutty, charred flavor but it allows a good amount of the moisture in the kernels to escape. Grilled corn directly in the husk is another often chosen way of cooking. The husk help to keep moisture in and the grilled nutty flavor is still present if not as strong. The downside to this approach is that to prevent the husk from burning, soaking the husks is highly recommended, and that means extra time and preparation. Tin foil can act like a husk, offering to keep the moisture in without the wait of soaking the husks, and that is why it is our preferred cooking method.


Prep Time: 5 min   |   Cook Time: 15   |   Serves: 4-8   |   Attribute: Draeger's Market
BBQ Corn
BBQ Corn
BBQ Corn
BBQ Corn
  • 4-8 ears of sweet corn
  • An equal number of tin foil pieces just large enough to wrap once around the corn cob
  • 1/4 cup butter, not melted
  • 1/2 tbsp. salt
  • 1/2 tbsp. pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder

Preheat your grill. Combine the salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, and onion powder in a small bowl. Next, remove the husks from the corn. Place the first piece of tin foil on the counter in front of you. Select the first ear. Gently butter the outside of the corn all the way around. Place the butter knife aside and gently sprinkle the corn with the seasoning mix. Once the ear has been buttered and seasoned, place it at the end of the tin foil piece. Simply roll the corn in the tin foil, snug but not too tight. Repeat the process on each ear until complete. Once the corn are all ready to go, take them out to the grill on a tray. Cook them over direct heat for 15 minutes, turning the corn every 5 minutes, so each side has a chance to feel the heat of the grill. Pull them off and set them aside. The foil and corn itself will be very hot. Let the ears rest for 5-7 minutes before starting to unwrap the foil packets. Serve!