Appalachian Food Gardening

The Silver Queen Has Arrived

Silver queen corn in brasstown

Over the last week we’ve been enjoying one of the delicacies of summer-fresh corn straight from the garden. We always plant Silver Queen and a few rows of field corn. I don’t know what variety the field corn is-Granny and Pap save the seed from year to year-a friend of theirs gave it to them years ago.

We use the field corn to make hominy with-and the Silver Queen we eat till we can’t hold any more. I’ve always been intrigued by corn-not just cause I like to eat it. I’m fascinated by it’s growth. From the moment it reaches it’s 2 tiny arm like soft leaves towards the sky almost seeming to pray the crows don’t see it-till it’s sweet juicy ears lay in my supper plate.

One of my favorite stages of corn growth occurs when the tassels are long and full. Since I was a kid-I’ve liked to go deep inside the rows and listen to the bees doing their job. See if you don’t like it too:

I hope you could hear the bees at work. Seemed like once I started videoing every jar fly in the holler started up. Along with my corn interest-I’ve also always been fascinated by bees-especially honey bees.

When we were little-me and Paul shed our shoes during the summer months. It was common for one of us or sometimes both of us to be sporting a swelled foot from stepping on honey bees while playing in the yard. Now I hardly see them in my yard.

Even with my multiple stings of summer-I never became afraid of bees. One of my younger cousins, Maria, was terrified of bees-I guess she still is. When we’d play by Mamaw and Papaw’s old garden site I’d find a cuckle bur and stick it on her back or in her hair and she’d run around like someone was killing her-thinking it was a bee. Kinda sounds mean now. But she knew I loved her most of all.

You can find all kinds of recipes for corn-from puddings to casseroles. But our favorite way to eat fresh Silver Queen-is on the cob. We get a pot of water boiling and drop the ears in-only takes about 3 minutes for them to cook to perfection.

Later on I’ll show you how we cook the corn we put up each year. And as soon as the field corn comes in I’m going to make Pap’s other recipe for gritted bread and see if I like it better than the first one.

So-what variety of corn is your favorite? How do you cook fresh corn? Do you like bees?

Tipper

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30 Comments

  • Reply
    Debbie
    July 19, 2011 at 10:36 am

    Our favorite is “fried corn”. Technically it is “creamed” but we always called it fried because it is cooked in an iron skillet with a little bacon grease. We are like small children at Christmas when we are waiting on our “FIRST SUMMER MEAL which consists of fried corn, fried okra, fried squash, pink eyed purple hull peas, sliced tomatoes, sliced onion, corn bread and a giant pitcher of tea! My mouth is watering now!

  • Reply
    Mary Lou McKillip
    June 2, 2011 at 8:01 pm

    Tipper,
    You are in tune with nature and make your columns so interesting.
    If folks haven’t met you they need to . Your roots are here in these Appalachians Mountains.
    God Bless

  • Reply
    Becky
    July 28, 2010 at 11:11 am

    My favorite is silver queen, too. My favorite way to eat corn is on the cob.
    And I love honey bees. You should see me dodging them in the yard when I’m walking or mowing. Seems we have so few of them now. I have a tree just outside my back door that comes alive in the spring with all kinds of bees, butterflies and other kinds of little critters. I love listening to them. Everyone else is afraid of them, but they won’t bother you if you don’t bother them.

  • Reply
    Glenda Beall
    July 24, 2010 at 1:18 pm

    Your post on corn brings back memories of my father’s garden and my mother’s cooking. She made the best creamed corn! I can taste it now. I never learned to make as she did, and I don’t have a garden, so I buy a couple of ears of corn from the stand down by the road and boil it. I only do it about three minutes, butter it with real salted butter and, Oh, is it ever so good.
    Corn and tomatoes were a meal for us on the farm, with cornbread and biscuits to go along with it. Nothing is better to me than a tomato biscuit and some fresh corn.

  • Reply
    kat
    July 23, 2010 at 5:29 pm

    Love fresh corn too. Mama used to cut it off the cob and fry it with a bit of sugar. I haven’t fixed it that way in years, but is delicious.

  • Reply
    sandra
    July 23, 2010 at 3:26 pm

    well you can just call me Maria! i am terrified of all stinging bugs and most non stinging. bees make me crazy but i did listen/watch your video and it is amazing, the sound is great, i could hear them and see them as they worked. now i will not be able to walk through a corn field if i see one. I LOVE corn on the cob and that is my favorite to, but mother used to cut it off the cob with a real sharp knife and then cook it down in the frying pan. home made cream corn. double you. i am actually gaining weight has i type. we have gazillon bees in our powderpuff bushes at certain times of the year and when i get close enough to hear the buzzzzz i back up

  • Reply
    Brenda Kay Ledford
    July 23, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    Tipper,
    I’m agree with you. Mama and I love Silver Queen corn, too. We planted three rows this year and are enjoying those “roast nairs”. Mama makes the best corn. She cuts it off the cook, stirs some milk into four, stirs that into the corn cooking on the stove. That makes the corn nice and thick and so good.
    I loved you posting. It sure brings back a lot of memories.

  • Reply
    Ethel
    July 23, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    Any variety works for me, as long as it’s fresh and served with lots of butter!
    I hated shoes when I was a child too (still do, really!), but was only stung twice when bees got me in the arch of the foot – the soles were too tough to penetrate! I have seen many more honeybees in my garden this year, they have been mobbing my coneflowers, though I can weed or whatever I need to do and they just go about their business. I hope they are making a comeback in places other than my garden, I haven’t seen anything in the news about them this year, have you?

  • Reply
    Sallie Covolo
    July 23, 2010 at 12:33 pm

    I tried the wrapping the corn in the wet paper towell and microwaving it for 2 minutes that one of your readers suggested. It worked pretty good, I remember we used to put boiling water and butter and the corn in a tupperware bowl and seal it tightly. Shortly after it was done. We do not grow corn anymore..But still eat it.

  • Reply
    petra michelle
    July 23, 2010 at 11:26 am

    A delicious and fun post, Tipper! One of my favorites — sweet, corn on the cob! :))
    Just a post script, Tipper. I’ve read that there’s been an alarming shortage of bees throughout the country. Many who have heard of this mysterious drop in bees, have begun raising them. I just watched a program in which average people who have a few acres are raising bees. Esp. because they’re so low in maintenance but so vital to our ecosystem. And what would we do without honey?!
    Have a wonderful weekend, Tipper! :))

  • Reply
    cannedquilter
    July 23, 2010 at 9:00 am

    Oh my that Silver Queen sure looks good. My parents grew Silver Queen every year. I like the variety Kandy best though.

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    July 23, 2010 at 8:24 am

    We love Peaches n’ Cream, Ambrosia and Silver Queen..
    Wanda: When I mention creamed corn over biscuits for breakfast..people around here would say ewww!…but that is the way we ate fresh corn when I grew up..fresh creamed corn, homemade buttered biscuits and large fresh sliced red tomatoes…yummm! You could work all day in the field after eating a breakfast like that!
    One of our favorite ways to fix fresh corn..soak in the husks in cold water at least 30 minutes…take out pull the husk down, remove a few of the top silks, close it up tight and lay it on the grill…roll it over a few minutes and it is delicious…..
    Not many bees in the clover here either we try to let our white clover bloom in the yard to attract them…
    I think bee mites and pesticides have killed off bees…but the hive keepers in Tennessee said we have been lucky and still have more bees than other areas…
    Tipper, I’m interested in your gritted bread recipe…

  • Reply
    Vicki Lane
    July 22, 2010 at 10:06 pm

    I like the Illini Extra sweet and the silver and Gold variety. Ours hasn’t ripened yet … but soon!
    We often grill our corn very briefly, just long enough to heat it. Then butter and lime juice and a little cayenne pepper — pretty fine!

  • Reply
    GrannyPam
    July 22, 2010 at 7:50 pm

    I would have never thought of filming the bees. They sound just the same here, doing their work in the cukes and tomatoes.

  • Reply
    Tipper
    July 22, 2010 at 6:10 pm

    Stacey-there is a shortage of honey bees here too. I believe some sort of mite infestation effected their numbers-as well as loss of habitat and use pesticides. I’m not sure how we could increase their numbers-but being a bee keeper is something I’ve always wanted to do.
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Music, Giveaways, Mountain Folk
    All at http://www.blindpigandtheacorn.com

  • Reply
    betsyfromtennessee
    July 22, 2010 at 3:49 pm

    Hi Tipper, Silver Queen corn-on-the-cob is fabulous…. It’s my fav…. I can almost taste it by looking at your pictures…. YUM….
    Great bee video….. Love the Jar Flies also…ha
    Hugs,
    Betsy

  • Reply
    trisha too
    July 22, 2010 at 3:19 pm

    Our new favorite is Bodacious–I steam it.
    You know, for as much time as I’ve spent outside, I’ve only ever been stung once, by a honeybee. It didn’t even hurt, honestly. Felt something on my arm, tried to brush it off, looked down, and watched it finish “stinging” me–now that’s a weird childhood memory!
    Anything that pollinates the plants and makes honey is fine by me–we like the bees! Even the big bumbles, they aren’t aggressive at all, and are fascinating to watch.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    July 22, 2010 at 2:09 pm

    Tipper, I could hear the bees, it’s a beautiful sound….very soothing!
    I like Silver Queen corn best. My mother always said there was more food value in yellow corn but somehow I just always liked white corn better. I like white cornmeal to make cornbread too.
    Tipper you need to get some honey bees. I bet you would make a good bee keeper because you are not afraid of them and you have a sweet calm attitude about you….most of the time anyway! lol

  • Reply
    Nancy Wigmore
    July 22, 2010 at 1:14 pm

    Thanks so much Tipper for posting this story. I could almost taste the corn on the cob. We ate a lot of field corn too! I had a cousin who use to come visit when we were little and her favorite was corn on the cob. I do believe she could have eaten a bushel basket full.
    Thanks again, Nancy

  • Reply
    meeemsnyc
    July 22, 2010 at 12:51 pm

    Yum! Nothing beats summer corn! Delicious!

  • Reply
    malcolm
    July 22, 2010 at 12:46 pm

    When , Ciejay and me ran the produce for Pete Case the summer of 2004 in Salem Or. before moving to Thailand Oct of that same year , we sold a variety of yellow caro called “candy corn” and belive you me it was the sweetest corn I have ever tasted, of course over here in Thailand I eat fresh corn right out of the field and boiled for 8 min is my way, 365 days out of the year , the neighbor down the street raises it and sells it from her little stand every night 7 days a week Thais, cook their corn for 30 to 40 mins , but when she sees mr coming she drops in 2 ears and holds up 8 fingers and I shake my head yes go get my Coke Zero, and head home for a great meal cook by the best cook I know of , my little wife Ciejay , never uses recipes or cook books she says “Ma showed all us girls to cook and we remember, all my recipes in my head . It works for me , cause if you see the gut on me , you’ll know I’m eating good and healthy too , just eating to MUCH. ha ha .
    Great post , nothing like fresh corn, and do we ever have the honey bees around our neighbor hood and from time ti time the bees will make a hive in the trees behind our house and the neighbors kids will climb the tree and get the honey cone and all and sometimes share with us and a real delicacy here in Thailand is the bees before the are hatched ,ate in a salad or grilled . not me ,but Ciejay loves them . Take care and enjoy summer , it don’t last as long as it use to ha ha . Malcolm and Ciejay from Thailand
    I love all your post and can’t wait to read the new ones .

  • Reply
    Stacey
    July 22, 2010 at 12:30 pm

    I love corn & I love bees! My grandfather on my mom’s side who we called “Goodguy” had just 2 grandaughters, me & my cousin Michele. He called us Bumble bee & Honey bee. When my daughter was born he called her “Little Bumble bee” He was only around until my daughter was 6 yrs old, she’s 17 now but she still remembers how sweet her great grandfather was & how he called her his little bumble bee.
    I have heard that bees are not as plentiful as they have been. What has happened to them? Can we do anything to encourage their numbers?
    As for the corn, I think that the Silver Queen & Peaches & Cream pretty much have the market blocked. It doesn’t get any better than those. Our corn here in Southwesten PA is not quite ready yet but it is looking great!
    Bumble Bee

  • Reply
    kenneth o. hoffman
    July 22, 2010 at 11:51 am

    tipper; i personely dont know what my favorite corn is . i suppose its the kind my neighbor is harvesting. sometime he leaves a tote sack full on the back porch. its allmost ,as if he would not have me look in his garden.i wonder. k.o.h

  • Reply
    Rick
    July 22, 2010 at 11:38 am

    I love fresh garden corn. We used to grow a lot of it when I was growing up. I’m not to happy about bees though but do understand why they do what they do.

  • Reply
    Ken
    July 22, 2010 at 11:21 am

    Tipper,
    Great post as usual and I loved the video. I’m amazed at how you
    caught the bees and those jar-flies doing their thing. The bees
    are not so plentiful anymore in my
    garden, but I love all the sounds
    the jarflies make. Silver Queen is
    the type I like best too, and we
    boil it for 4 minutes. Ken

  • Reply
    mamabug
    July 22, 2010 at 10:48 am

    Those sweet little bees are such charmers! I love to watch them in the garden. Sometimes their little legs are so laden with pollen I don’t know how they can still fly! Nothing better than good sweet corn in the summer. I like to shuck it, wash it and then lightly brush with olive oil, a little sea salt and pepper and throw it on the grill. In about 15 minutes it’s hot and sweet and the juice runs down your chin when you take a bite!

  • Reply
    Sarah
    July 22, 2010 at 10:20 am

    My favorite is peaches n’ cream fresh from the cob. I like to wrap an ear in a moist piece of paper towel and microwave it about a minute … mmmmm!

  • Reply
    Pat in east TN
    July 22, 2010 at 9:32 am

    We grow Silver Queen and Peaches ‘n Cream. We’re eating our fill now and will be freezing some over the week end. I cook my fresh corn for eating like you do … 3 minutes in boiling water. Hubby runs to the garden to get the corn and I have the water ready when he comes in … can’t have it fresher then that!
    I don’t mind bees, but my 7 year old granddaughter is petrified of them. Although she’s never been stung, she’ll go into a full time hissy fit over the sight of one! It’s quite overwhelming!

  • Reply
    Lonnie L. Dockery
    July 22, 2010 at 9:22 am

    That was a neat video Tipper. Too close for comfort though. I started hunting the Benedryl! I’m hung up on the Peaches and Cream-but it’s hard to beat Silver Queen.

  • Reply
    Wanda
    July 22, 2010 at 9:21 am

    Tipper, My Mom would gather sweet corn early and cook it for breakfast…sweet, creamed corn over biscuits! There is nothing better. Wanda

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