In cool soil, corn may rot rather than germinate. Once seeds have broken dormancy, however, they will continue to grow in less-than-optimal soil temperatures. Presprouting turns this tendency to the gardener's advantage, adding several weeks to the start of the growing season. To presprout, spread corn seed in a single layer between wet paper towels. Roll up and place in an unsealed plastic bag. Keep warm (70° to 80°F). Check daily and do not allow the toweling to dry out. Plant seed at the first sign of a root, which should appear beneath the seed coat in 2 to 4 days. Be careful when handling germinated corn: The longer the root, the more easily it can be damaged.
'Ruby Queen' holds its blush even in boiling water; many cooks, however, prefer to steam, microwave, or grill it, husks removed or not, to retain the full depth of color. Do not overcook—garden-fresh corn takes only 3 minutes in unsalted, boiling water. To freeze, cut kernels from cooked ears. Or, for an out-of-season, on-the-cob treat, freeze uncooked ears in the husks—silks removed—sealed in plastic bags. In season, the ruby-hued morsels complement a bounty of sun-ripened fare including cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, peppers, zucchini, garlic, cilantro, and basil. Mix and match, and finish by tossing with olive oil and fresh lemon juice.
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