Bring a large pot half-filled with water to a boil. Remove the husks and silk from the cobs of corn, place them in the pot of boiling water and boil for three to five minutes.
Alternatively, add the cleaned corn cobs to a large pot that is half-filled with cold water. Cover the pot, and bring the water to a boil. When the water begins to boil, the corn is done. There should be just enough water to cover the corn cobs, but the water should not be overflowing.
Although some recipes call for adding salt to flavor the corn, doing so may toughen it. Some cooks add 1 to 2 teaspoons of sugar to the cooking water to enhance the corn's sweetness, but this is only necessary if the corn is old.
Fresh, in-season corn tends to be high in sugar and taste rather sweet. As soon as it is harvested, the corn's natural enzymes begin transforming its simple sugars into starches, thereby diminishing the sweet flavor. Harvested corn that sits around or is exposed to high temperatures loses its sweetness more quickly.
Older corn may also require longer than three to five minutes to cook and tenderize. As a general rule, search for the freshest corn available, and cook and serve it as soon as possible.