Please Don’t Throw Away Your Naked Corn Cobs

published Jul 5, 2016
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(Image credit: Christine Gallary)

Sweet corn on the cob is one of summer’s greatest pleasures. Cut off the kernels and enjoy them in every way, shape, and form — from salad to chowder to even ice cream — but don’t just toss the remaining cobs in the compost or trash. They’re an equally valued ingredient in the kitchen, as long as you know what to do with them. Here are five ingenious ways to use them.

1. Make corn stock.

Toss the cobs in a large pot, cover them with water, add a few big pinches of salt, and simmer for about an hour. The stock will be sweet, fragrant, and golden in hue. Use the liquid gold to make corn soup or chowder, stir it into risotto as it cooks, or make polenta extra corny by swapping it in for your usual cooking liquid.

Get the Recipe: Sweet Corn Soup

2. Try corn cob jelly.

Boil the cobs with water for 10 minutes, strain the liquid, and add pectin and you’ve got a traditional, old-school farm stand-style jelly that’s sweet and honey-like. Not only is it great spread on biscuits, toast, bagels, and English muffins, but it can also be used as a glaze for chicken or pork.

Get the Recipe: Corncob Jelly from Taste of Home

Slow-Cooker Corn Pudding (Image credit: Diana Yen)

3. Milk them.

Use the back of a knife to scrape the naked cobs and remove the starchy, milky liquid, called corn milk, that remains. Catch the liquid in a bowl and then add it to corn soup, corn pudding, and creamed corn to help thicken it and add extra flavor.

4. Enhance poaching liquid.

If you’re not planning to poach chicken or fish anytime soon, just toss the naked cobs in a zip-top bag and stash it in your freezer. Then add a cob to your poaching liquid the next time you’re at it. It will infuse its flavor right into the meat.

5. Smoke meat.

You don’t only have to smoke meat with wood chips. This interesting technique replaces wood chips with leftover corn cobs. The naked cobs are placed over the charcoal and give meat a sweet but mellow smoky flavor.

Get the Recipe: South Dakota Corncob-Smoked Ribs from America’s Test Kitchen

How do you use naked corn cobs?