Microwaving corn, whether on the cob or as kernels, is a fast, mess-free way of cooking or warming up corn. In addition to cutting the cooking time, it's much easier than stove-top cooking -- no large pots required. You can cook frozen, raw or canned corn in the microwave. Using the microwave can even help you remove husks and silk from corn with minimal fuss.
For canned or frozen corn, place the amount needed in a microwave-safe bowl, along with any seasonings you may wish to use. Drain canned corn before microwaving. For whole corn -- corn on the cob -- remove any visible debris and, if you wish, trim off the darkened silks at the top. Place the ears on a microwave-safe plate or tray, un-shucked. For whole corn, do not cook more than four ears at a time.
Cooking Fresh Corn
For corn on the cob, microwave on high for 3 minutes for every one to two ears. For three to four ears of corn, microwave on high for 4 minutes. For larger ears, an extra minute of cooking time may be required for every two ears of corn. Whole cobs are best cooked in their husks, as the moisture from the silk steams the kernels during cooking, adding extra flavor and moisture. Cook the corn in a single layer directly on the microwave tray or on a microwave-safe plate.
Cooking Frozen and Canned Corn
Corn kernels hold up well to freezing and canning, retaining much of their texture and natural sweetness. Canned corn is precooked, and only requires heating. Frozen corn needs to defrost and cook before it is ready to eat. For canned corn, heat 1 cup of drained kernels on high for 1 to 2 minutes, until the desired temperature is reached. If you are cooking larger quantities, add 1 minute of cooking time, on high, for every extra cup of corn. Stir the corn after each minute of cooking to ensure even heating. Frozen kernels require longer cooking times and more frequent stirring, as they are defrosting as they cook. Microwave 1 cup of frozen kernels on high for 2 1/2 minutes, stirring halfway through. For every extra cup of frozen kernels, add on 1 minute of cooking time. In both cases, for canned and frozen corn, cook in a shallow, microwave-safe bowl for even heating. To prevent moisture loss, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, leaving one corner open so steam can escape.
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Seasoning in the Microwave
Season corn on the cob as well as frozen or canned corn kernels while you heat or cook in the microwave. Season fresh corn on the cob prior to cooking. Fold the husks down, and remove only the silk. Place fresh or dried herbs -- oil or butter is not recommended as it will leak out during cooking -- against the kernels, and pull the husks back around the cob. Microwave as you would unseasoned corn. Frozen or canned corn can have butter or olive oil added before cooking, but be careful with butter, as long cooking times in the microwave can lead to burnt butter. Add fresh minced herbs, curry paste, cream or even cooked, cooled or frozen foods, such as shrimp or frozen peas, to the same bowl as your fresh or frozen kernels for a fast dish or meal.
Cynthia Au has studied at the Cordon Bleu in Paris and currently works as a chef instructor specializing in food styling. She has worked as a writer and editor with a focus on food and food science since 2007 and regularly teaches both adults and young children about the joys of home cooking.