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When I was a young’un growing up in North Carolina’s Yadkin Valley, corn of the type one wants for corn on the cob was called roastnears. I learned in school, around the fifth grade, that roastnears means roasting ears. Back then, I thought of that as just the way people talked. Now I would see it as a bit of the Southern Appalachian dialect.

I don’t try to grow corn here. It takes up too much room in the garden, and the raccoons pull it down and steal it. This summer, neighbors have given me corn. But there is no shortage of it. All through late summer, grocery stores sell it in large quantities, very fresh, for 20 cents to 50 cents an ear.

I would never boil it, not least because who wants all that heat in the kitchen in high summer. Roasting it in foil on an outdoor grill is easiest. But it’s more fun to roast it in the shucks. Peel the shucks back on the raw ear of corn, remove the silks, apply some olive oil, and fold the shucks back over the corn. About 22 minutes in a hot covered grill should do it. Apply as much butter and salt as your conscience will permit.


  1. Jo wrote:

    David, I also remember the term roastnears being used for corn. My favorite form of eating this was to visit my grandfather’s tobacco barn during curing season. He would roast it in the barn fireplace. The very best corn ever. I presently remove the silks, sprinkle ear of corn with water, wrap loosely in waxed paper & microwave 2 minutes. Add butter and salt. Not as good as roasted or grilled, but quite tasty.

    Sunday, September 5, 2021 at 7:17 pm | Permalink
  2. daltoni wrote:

    Hi Jo: I always used to hear about how roastneers were part of the tradition of staying up all night to keep the wood fires burning in the curing barns. But I seem to have missed out on that, because every tobacco barn I knew of had been converted to kerosene… I do have a question, though. Was the ear of corn laid on the coals, or did they use a rack or something?

    Sunday, September 5, 2021 at 7:24 pm | Permalink
  3. JamesM wrote:

    I’m even lazier, David. Four minutes for an ear in the micro, then squueze the shucks at the large end. Shucks and silks stay together and the ear pops out clean as a whistle. Cut off the ear with a knife and Bob’s your uncle.

    Sunday, September 5, 2021 at 11:04 pm | Permalink
  4. daltoni wrote:

    And I don’t even have a microwave!

    Monday, September 6, 2021 at 7:18 am | Permalink
  5. Jo wrote:

    David, think I recall the corn being laid away from the actual fire. Don’t remember a rack. This would be corn pulled from the stalk that day, so would be moist.

    My age is revealed by remembering tobacco “cured” the “old-fashioned” way. My grandfather retired before the oil method came along. He was the last tobacco grower in my family.

    Monday, September 6, 2021 at 4:05 pm | Permalink
  6. Henry Sandigo wrote:


    Monday, September 6, 2021 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

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