The Red Queen

Red Corn is a hardy and beautiful alternative to everyday sweet corn.

By Wendy Tweten

Photography by Matthew Benson


'Ruby Queen' is a sugar-enhanced sweet corn and one of the<br />
few "tinted" veggies to hold its color when cooked.

Presprouting Sweet Corn

In cool soil, corn may rot rather than germinate. Once seeds have broken dormancy, however, they will continue to grow in less-than-optimal soil temperatures. Presprouting turns this tendency to the gardener's advantage, adding several weeks to the start of the growing season. To presprout, spread corn seed in a single layer between wet paper towels. Roll up and place in an unsealed plastic bag. Keep warm (70° to 80°F). Check daily and do not allow the toweling to dry out. Plant seed at the first sign of a root, which should appear beneath the seed coat in 2 to 4 days. Be careful when handling germinated corn: The longer the root, the more easily it can be damaged.
Cooking Suggestions
'Ruby Queen' holds its blush even in boiling water; many cooks, however, prefer to steam, microwave, or grill it, husks removed or not, to retain the full depth of color. Do not overcook—garden-fresh corn takes only 3 minutes in unsalted, boiling water. To freeze, cut kernels from cooked ears. Or, for an out-of-season, on-the-cob treat, freeze uncooked ears in the husks—silks removed—sealed in plastic bags. In season, the ruby-hued morsels complement a bounty of sun-ripened fare including cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, peppers, zucchini, garlic, cilantro, and basil. Mix and match, and finish by tossing with olive oil and fresh lemon juice.