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How to harvest sweetcorn


Having tended your sweetcorn crop all summer, make sure you harvest the cobs when they're at their peak of ripeness. Pick them too soon and they'll be watery and not very sweet, pick them too late and they'll be tough. Harvest times vary, depending on the variety, the sowing time, the weather conditions and the part of the country in which you live, so check the ripeness of your cobs regularly. 

How to do it

Testing sweetcorn ripeness


Keep a close eye on your sweetcorn cobs as they swell. Once the tassels have turned brown, test for ripeness by peeling back the outer husks and pushing your fingernail into the cob. If a milky solution comes out, then the cob is ready to pick, but if the liquid is clear, leave it a little longer.

Harvested sweetcorn cobs


Pick the cobs just before you're going to eat them, with water on the boil ready to pop them straight in. The sugars in sweetcorn start turning to starch the very moment the cob is picked, so freshly harvested cobs have a sweetness you'll never get from shop-bought ones.

Stripping kernels from sweetcorn cob


If you have a glut of sweetcorn, you can freeze it. Blanch the cobs in boiling water for five minutes, cool in iced water, then strip off the kernels and store in freezer bags. 

Discuss this project

Talkback: How to harvest sweetcorn
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Woodgreen wonderboy 12/09/2013 at 20:52

They are much better microwaved for about 3 mins., turned over, mw for 3 more mins. Lot less bother than boiling . Keep flavour and scrunch.

fidgetbones 12/09/2013 at 20:57

5 minutes boil, butter and salt.  Yum, Yum, Yum. I put the water on to boil just before I go to pick them. Flavour starts to deteriorate within an hour of being picked.

I have had excellent crops from swift f1 AGM for the last two years.

Penny25 12/09/2013 at 22:16

If you do as instructed and open up the cob to test whether it is ready you also open it up to the birds! They soon move in and enjoy the opened cobs. I feel the cob for size and judge whether it is ready by the look of the tassels. It seems to works and at least the cobs aren't damaged

Woodgreen wonderboy 21/09/2013 at 01:18

This is a bit of a joke. This advice should have been issued 4-6 weeks ago, especially in such a good year for sweetcorn. It is highly unlikely that anyone has any worthwhile cobs left on their plants that haven't been picked by this date.
Wise up Gardener's World.

fidgetbones 21/09/2013 at 08:22

We've eaten all of ours.

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