If you've been eagerly awaiting the arrival of fresh Silver Queen corn, you'll need the patience of Job, and then some.
We hate to be spoilsports, but white sweet corn advertised as "Silver Queen" probably is not, according to Richard Hassell, Clemson Extension vegetable specialist and associate professor of horticulture at Clemson University.
"Very rarely is it grown anymore," Hassell says of the popular hybrid. It reached its peak about 10 years ago, and subsequently, "we've gone into corn with a much longer shelf life and much sweeter."
Still, the name lives on at roadside stands and local markets. Hassell says that's because Southerners like white sweet corn over yellow, and the name became synonymous — just as Kleenex did for all brands of facial tissue.
"Everybody talks about the white as Silver Queen. That's what they fell in love with early, and that's made it the preference," he says.
Color has nothing to do with sweetness, Hassell says, but different regions tend to have a favorite anyway.
For example, "You go up to New York and they like a bicolor, which was called 'Butter and Sugar,' just like Silver Queen was for us. Every stand has a sign, 'Butter and Sugar corn now in season.' "
Modern varieties do offer some pluses, Hassell says. "Some of the corns now, they actually get sweeter a week later. Also, it used to be when you grew sweet corn, you harvested it one day and had to eat it right away. That's not the case anymore."
However, the corn must be kept cold to last longer, Hassell emphasizes. "Without refrigeration, it will go bad within a day or two."