When boiling corn, how can I tell when it's done?
I usually remove the husk and silk. Would there be any advantage to leaving them on when boiling?
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Removing the husk is fine. Usually you can detect a color shift when it's nearly done. White corn will become slightly yellow and yellow corn will turn a bright dark-yellow.
Easiest way is to just set a timer. Cooking times range from 1 - 10 minutes.
1 minute = still has a bite to it (slightly crunchy) 10 minutes = soft with almost no bite
It depends on your definition of done. My suggestion is to standardize your method and then just determine how many minutes you like. I use already boiling water with a maxed out flame and a good amount of salt, and the husk and silk removed, and I find 90 seconds is about right. You may find you like 2 or even 4 minutes. Be sure and use a pot that is big enough that the water won't cool down too much when you add the corn.
I always shuck my corn just before I want to cook it. Never buy pre-shucked corn as it loses it's freshness sitting there in plastic. I bring the water to a boil, but instead of salt like you would use for most vegetables, I use about a tablespoon of sugar. This helps to add sweetness to the corn. I put the corn in and boil at a medium rolling boil for about 8 minutes. The corn changes colour to a deeper yellow just before this.
I leave the husk and silk on and boil for 15-20 minutes, the husk obviously slows the cooking time. Then drain and remove the husks and silk to serve - although you need asbestos hands.
Alternatively, remove the husks and silk, rub some butter on each cob and wrap in baking paper - twisting the ends to keep in the steam and butter. Then microwave on high for 5-10 minutes, plus or minus, depending on how "done" you like your corn and how many cobs you're doing in the batch. The butter melts through and the moisture in the corn/butter steams them perfectly.
Don't cook more than one or two person at a time - it's hard to get a pot that will hold more anyway, and they cook so quickly it's better to just get up and cook another batch. Don't pour out the water until you're out of corn or everyone's full.