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Coring improves frozen corn on the cob.

Considered one of the ephemeral delights of summer because its sweet taste fades so fast, corn on the cob also ranks as one of the great challenges to food scientists seeking to preserve its fresh flavor. Now Chang Y. Lee of Cornell University and his colleagues have demonstrated that drilling a 1-centimeter-diameter hole almost completely down the center of the cob makes frozen corn less soggy and more tasty.

Food companies have solf frozen corn on the cob for 60 years, preparing it by first cooking the corn for 10 to 14 minutes, says Lee. This blanching kills enzymes in both kernels and cob that otherwise gradually destroy corn's flavor molecules. The corn needs such long cooking because heat transfers slowly to the cob's core. As a result, kernels reach temperatures up to 20 [degrees]C higher than the cob. If overcooked, kernels get soggy and less appealing to the palate, Lee says.

Once cored, cob and corn cook more quickly and more evenly. Both reach 80 deg. C within six minutes. Lee's group prepared and froze corn in this and the traditional way. Every three months for a year, they measured the enzyme content of individual kernels and cobs from the two group. They then put a hole through the corn prepared the old way to make it indistinguishable from the other corn for blind taste tests by 16 volunteers.

Blanching destroyed 95 percent of the disflavoring enzymes in kernels and 68 percent of the enzymes in the cob of cored corn, almost double those destroyed by the traditional approach. And the cored corn did consistently better in the taste tests, Lee reports. In addition, the shorter blanching time means lower energy costs for food companies, he says.
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Author:Pennisi, Elizabeth
Publication:Science News
Date:Sep 7, 1991
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