Hydrocooling, quite simply, is cooling by water (hydro – Greek for water). Hydrocooling sweet corn is the process of removing field heat from corn by immersing it in ice cold water as soon as it is picked. This slows the respiration process which uses the sugar in corn as its energy source. When the cob is mature, heat respiration begins and it uses the sugar in the kernels to heat itself up. If left “untreated” at 30° Celcius (85°F), corn will lose 50% of its sugar in 24 hours!
At Hunter Brothers, after our sweet corn is hand-picked and hand-graded, it is cooled in a cedar-shaded, spring-fed pond for 2 to 3 hours. Tom Hunter makes sure that all the corn in the mesh bag gets cooled; he wades into the VERY COLD water and turns the floating bags.
Hydrocooling at Home
If you cannot get Hunter Brother Hydrocooled Sweet Corn, you can hydrocool the sweet corn that you purchase yourself. The first step is assuring the corn is fresh picked (within a couple of hours). This means buying from your local farmer and ensuring it is picked fresh. Then fill a sink with ice cold water (add a few ice cubes just to be sure!) and immerse the unshucked cobs in the water. Then store the corn in your fridge or cooler packed with ice. If you’re cooking the corn right away, don’t bother with this hydrocooling process.
Corn Care Tips
Hunter Brothers take great pride and care in producing the sweetest, most tender sweet corn there is. Here are a few tips so that you can ensure it’s at its peak when you finally get to eat it.
Tip #1: The sweetest corn, is the freshest corn. Buy the corn as close to the day you plan to eat it.
Tip #2: Hydrocooling helps keep sweet corn fresh. If you do not plan to eat the corn right away, keep it cool and moist.
Fridge: Store the corn, unhusked, in the fridge. Cover with a damp cloth if you’re planning to keep it any length of time. Even hydrocooled sweet corn will gradually lose its sweetness. Hunter Brothers recommended eating it within 4 to 7 days of its purchase .
Cooler: Planning a corn boil? Pack corn, unhusked, in cooler filled with crushed ice.
Nature’s cooler: If you have a BIG bag of corn (6-7 dozen), keep it cool by hosing it down with cold water from a garden hose (in a shady area) or by keeping it in a cool lake, stream, etc. Corn floats, so remember to turn it over to the other side from time to time.
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