How can you tell if corn’s ready to pick?
You peek. Pull the husks back gently and see if the kernels look plump. It won’t hurt the corn if you pull it back a ways, far enough that you aren’t just seeing those little tiny kernels around the top. If they still look small, just smooth the husks back into place. And, before you’ve picked much corn, you’ll get a feel for how the cob feels in your hand when it’s ready.
But keep in mind that people often wait too long, and fresh corn is best when it is young. Plump, yes, but not bulging. It’s better to err on the young side. The corn in the above picture might look good, but it’s actually a few days too old.
The Damsel likes to shuck corn right in the garden, in case there are bugs. Especially the dreaded earwig, which in the Damsel’s opinion could be erased from existence, and the food chain would survive just fine.
Getting the silk off the ears is a pesky problem. If you are careful, you can get nearly all the silk off when you are shucking the corn. Don’t pull off one husk at a time, like you were peeling something. Try to get all the way down to the corn with your fingers, and bring off sections of husk and silk all off at once. Very little silk will remain.
The Damsel has heard various silk-removing methods. There’s the dry paper towel method, in which you rub the cob in a circular motion with a paper towel. The Damsel tried this and thought “meh.” You can rub the cob with your hands under running water, which works about as well as anything. Brushing with a vegetable brush works well too.
You can buy a special corn silk brush but if there was ever a “unitasker,” that is one. A “unitasker” is a tool that does only one thing, and the Damsel doesn’t like them. Granted, a corn silk brush is not as bad as this unitasker:
This behemoth does one thing…make pancakes. And take up your entire kitchen. (As seen on http://www.unclutterer.com)
A soft vegetable brush will probably do just as well. The Damsel likes hers because it even has a peeler on the side, making it more of a “multitasker.”
The Damsel has heard of people meticulously going over their corn with an old toothbrush, getting out every last bit of silk. But for her, this would turn a fun food into a nightmare. She’s learned she has to pick her battles, and there’s a lot more oogie things on the earth than a little corn silk.