How to Prep and Cook Delicious and Fresh Corn in 9 Easy Steps
Have you ever prepared fresh corn? Maybe it’s your first year growing it, or you’re used to purchasing frozen or canned corn from the grocery store?
Well, I was astonished this year to speak to a friend who was amazed at the fact our family preserves our own food and cook food fresh from our garden.
She genuinely had no idea how to prepare and cook fresh corn. Naturally, I jumped at the opportunity to show her how because knowledge is power after all.
But this made me wonder how many others out there don’t know how to prep fresh corn, either. Before our farming days, I wouldn’t have known. I’ve learned a great deal over the past decade.
It’s now my turn to pass on what I know. Here’s all you need to know to prepare fresh corn and cook it too:
1. Strip It Down
Whether you’re growing fresh corn, or you’ve purchased it, husks are something you’re going to have to deal with.
It doesn’t have to be a terrible ordeal to remove the husks from the corn. In fact, it’s one of my favorite things to do during the summer months.
My family and I enjoy sitting under our shade tree with lawn chairs. We go through our corn and begin removing the husks from the corn.
You can also perform this task in your kitchen over the sink if you’re working with smaller amounts. Either way, you’ll notice the corn has brown tassels at the top of the ear. The husks should be split at this point.
Start at the top, grab one section of the husk, and firmly pull downward. Do this repeatedly until you’ve fully exposed the ear of corn.
Once the husks have been pulled back, you can pull them off the corn. The cob will still have a stem which will need to be cut or broken off.
When the husks and stems have been removed from the corn, you’re ready to move on.
2. Shave It
Corn cobs have tiny hairs on them we refer to as ‘silks'. They’re fine, stringy things which are perfect for getting caught in your teeth.
Therefore, they should be removed before cooking. You do this by using a toothbrush. Simply, rub the toothbrush back and forth on the corn cob gently to remove the silks.
From time to time you need to wipe the toothbrush on a towel or run it under cold water to remove the silks and then go back for more.
Once you’ve removed as many silks as you can with the toothbrush, place the corn cob under cold water and rub your hands up and down the cob to remove any silks which may still be lingering.
3. A Quick Trick (For Small Batches)
I would recommend using the methods listed above if you’re preparing enough corn to feed a larger family or for preserving your corn.
However, if you’re only fixing a few ears at a time, there’s another method you can try to remove both the husks and silks easily.
Cut the end of the corn off where the stem is. Place the corn in the microwave with the husks still intact. Microwave the corn for four minutes per ear.
Therefore, if you’re preparing two ears of corn, they’ll need to be microwaved for a total of eight minutes.
After the corn has been microwaved for the appropriate time, use oven mitts to remove the corn from the microwave because the ears will be hot.
Once removed, grab the corn by the tasseled end and begin to press, squeeze, and shake the corn until the cob falls out of the opened end.
The steam from cooking the corn in the microwave is enough to loosen the kernels from both the husk and silks making it easier to glide the corn out without extra work.
However, I only prefer this method when I’m cooking a few ears because it takes too long when cooking larger amounts.
4. Wash Behind the Ears
If you stuck with the old-school method of husking and silking corn, the ears would still need to be washed. Even if you went with the microwave method, it’s not a bad idea to give the ears a quick rinse before cooking.
Either way, be sure to run each ear of corn under cold water. Sometimes corn cobs have bugs inside them. By washing the cobs, you remove any remaining dirt or bugs which could’ve hung in during the husking and silking process.
Also, be sure to gently run your hands over the ear of corn as you’re rinsing it under water. It will help knock dirt loose as well.
5. Tell Me What You Want, What You Really, Really Want
How you choose to move forward from this step will depend upon what you want. If you like corn on the cob, you can leave the corn be and move on with the process.
But if you’re feeling uncertain of what you’d like to do with your corn, take a few moments to browse the internet and see which corn recipes most strike your fancy.
Once you’ve decided what you are going to make, you can move on to the next step.
6. Pull the Kernels
If you chose a recipe which needs the corn removed from the cob, it’s important to know how. There are many methods to remove the corn from the cob.
Place the corn cob in the center of the Bundt pan and run a sharp knife down the sides of the cob. The corn kernels should fall into the pan making less mess and also keep your hands away from the corn cob while cutting.
The final method I use is to place the corn cob on the stem end (after the stem has been removed.) This should make the corn cob more stable. Slide a sharp knife down each side of the cob being sure to cut the corn kernels loose but not taking the cob with it.
The loose kernels can now be cooked in a pot of water. Bring the water to a boil and cook the corn for 15 minutes longer if you prefer softer corn.
7. Leave It Alone
If your preference is to eat corn on the cob, you don’t have to worry about cutting the kernels from the cob.
Instead, place the cleaned corn in a large pot with water covering the corn cobs. I like to add a stick of butter, ¼ cup of milk or cream, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and old bay seasoning to the water as well.
The mixture should be brought to a boil, and I prefer softer corn which is why I allow my corn to boil for an additional 15 minutes.
When the time is up, remove the corn from the water. I don’t add any extra butter to my corn when serving because the water gives the corn ample taste for my liking.
However, if you’d like to add more butter or seasonings go for it. Dress the corn up however you like to make sure you enjoy the fruits of your labor to the fullest.
8. Don’t Toss the Cobs
If you cut the corn from the cob be sure not to waste the cobs. I pitch the corn cobs into a stockpot filled with water.
From there, I bring the water to a rolling boil, put the lid on the stockpot, and reduce the heat to allow the mixture to simmer for a few hours.
When the water is a dark yellow color, I know it’s done. This corn cob stock costs me no extra money and is great to use in soups where you’d typically use vegetable or chicken stock.
Corn cob stock can be preserved by canning or freezing for later use.
You can also dry the corn cobs after they’ve been used for stock. Once they’ve been dried thoroughly, you can use the corn cobs as fire starters.
9. Make the Husks Return the Favor
I don’t like to waste anything. Therefore, I’d hate to see you toss the husks in the garbage. If you have livestock such as chickens, pigs, or goats, they enjoy the husks a great deal.
If you don’t, be sure to add the husks to your compost. It’s a great way to give an additional purpose to an item you’d otherwise let go unused.
Well, you now know how to prepare and cook fresh corn. You also have a few additional ways to use the by-products of corn as well. Hopefully, these tips and pointers will help you to enjoy fresh corn on a more regular basis.