What's in season: A summer staple, mounds of corn are piling up at market stands, with a season that typically runs from the hot summer months through early fall. Fans of white and yellow varieties are welcome to debate which is sweeter and more flavorful, though there really isn't much of a difference between the two beyond personal preference. A number of heirloom varieties are known for more pronounced "corn" flavor but begin to convert their sugars to starch soon after picking, meaning freshness can be an issue; many modern varieties are bred for increased and prolonged sweetness. Look for varieties including white Silver Queen, as well as Mirai, a sweet hybrid with great flavor. Corn is best enjoyed soon after picking, but many varieties will retain their sweetness and flavor up to a few days. As always, it's best to check with the farmer when purchasing.
What to cook: Don't worry about cooking corn before enjoying, the raw kernels make great additions to salads, salsas and slaws, or as a garnish for soups. Cook the kernels as part of a dish of succotash or calabacitas, simmer with heavy cream for a rich creamed corn side, or bake into a batch of skillet cornbread or muffins. When grilling corn, soak the ears first for a few minutes so the husks don't burn over the fire. Be sure to save the leftover cobs as they lend rich corn flavor to soups and sauces — even ice cream.