Recipes & Cooking: How to Cook Fruits & Vegetables

Here’s How to Shuck Corn Easily
Here’s How to Shuck Corn Easily

Struggling to remove the husk and every last strand of silk? Our Test Kitchen has your speedy solution.

By Karla Walsh

Updated on August 1, 2023

Ranking right up there with chopping onions, peeling garlic, and pitting cherries, shucking corn used to be one of our most-dreaded culinary tasks. That is, until we learned our Test Kitchen’s secrets for how to shuck corn quickly, easily, and in a tidy way. In this guide for how to shuck corn, you’ll not only learn how to remove the husk and silks, but you can also brush up on how to select the best corn at the farm stand or market. We’re also sharing how to store corn to maximize its lifespan. Then, once you master how to pick, store, and shuck, we’ll send you on your way with a handful of our very best fresh corn recipes that taste like summer on a plate.

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Uzbek Chicken Pilaf: Easy \u0026 Delicious Recipe
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How to Pick the Best Sweet Corn

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Recipes | Ideas & Inspiration | Waitrose & Partners

Sarah Brekke, M.S., Better Homes & Gardens Test Kitchen culinary specialist, and her husband, an agronomist, are quite the dream team when they visit their local Iowa farm stands to stock up on stalks. Here’s what they look for—which aligns with university extension best practices:

  1. Feel the rows : No need to remove the husks, but try to feel the kernels through them. You’re looking for medium-sized ears lined with plump, firm kernels that aren’t too big. Ideally, the kernels should be arranged in neat rows with no rows missing, and the ear should feel heavy for its size. (All of these are clues that this is a healthy ear of corn.) “Smaller ears are usually underdeveloped and the corn tends to have a subtle grassy flavor while larger ears are overgrown and the large kernels are starchy and milky,” Brekke says.
  2. Peruse the husks : The husks should be bright green, tight around the cob, and still have some moisture, rather than feel crispy, brown, or loose. The silks should be light brown rather than dark brown. “The better the silks and husks look, the fresher the corn likely is,” Brekke explains.
  3. Check the tip : This is the area where worms are most likely to burrow into the cob. Peel back a tiny corner to check. “If the tip has just a little insect damage but the kernels look good, this ear is still good for eating, just cut or break off the tip,” Brekke says. If the damage appears to be widespread, skip that cob.

: Once you bring the corn home, you can peel back a bit more of the husk and try the “milk test.” Break a kernel and see if it emits a white, milky liquid. This is a clue that you have high-quality, ready-to-eat corn. If the kernel is doughy or dry, it is probably past its peak.

How to Store Corn

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Recipes | Ideas & Inspiration | Waitrose & Partners

You can store corn shucked or with the husks still on. Either way, it’s important to keep things cool—and aim to consume the corn ASAP, Brekke advises. “Personally, I adhere to the rule that sweet corn needs to be eaten within 24 hours of it being picked for the best flavor,” she says# Recipes & Cooking: How to Cook Fruits & Vegetables

Struggling to remove the husk and every last strand of silk? Our Test Kitchen has your speedy solution.

By Karla Walsh

Updated on August 1, 2023

Ranking right up there with chopping onions, peeling garlic, and pitting cherries, shucking corn used to be one of our most-dreaded culinary tasks. That is, until we learned our Test Kitchen’s secrets for how to shuck corn quickly, easily, and in a tidy way. In this guide for how to shuck corn, you’ll not only learn how to remove the husk and silks, but you can also brush up on how to select the best corn at the farm stand or market. We’re also sharing how to store corn to maximize its lifespan. Then, once you master how to pick, store, and shuck, we’ll send you on your way with a handful of our very best fresh corn recipes that taste like summer on a plate.

How to Pick the Best Sweet Corn

Alt Text 20
Recipes | Ideas & Inspiration | Waitrose & Partners

Sarah Brekke, M.S., Better Homes & Gardens Test Kitchen culinary specialist, and her husband, an agronomist, are quite the dream team when they visit their local Iowa farm stands to stock up on stalks. Here’s what they look for—which aligns with university extension best practices:

  1. Feel the rows. No need to remove the husks, but try to feel the kernels through them. You’re looking for medium-sized ears lined with plump, firm kernels that aren’t too big. Ideally, the kernels should be arranged in neat rows with no rows missing, and the ear should feel heavy for its size. (All of these are clues that this is a healthy ear of corn.) “Smaller ears are usually underdeveloped and the corn tends to have a subtle grassy flavor while larger ears are overgrown and the large kernels are starchy and milky,” Brekke says.

  2. Peruse the husks. The husks should be bright green, tight around the cob, and still have some moisture, rather than feel crispy, brown, or loose. The silks should be light brown rather than dark brown. “The better the silks and husks look, the fresher the corn likely is,” Brekke explains.

  3. Check the tip. This is the area where worms are most likely to burrow into the cob. Peel back a tiny corner to check. “If the tip has just a little insect damage but the kernels look good, this ear is still good for eating, just cut or break off the tip,” Brekke says. If the damage appears to be widespread, skip that cob.

Test Kitchen Tip: Once you bring the corn home, you can peel back a bit more of the husk and try the “milk test.” Break a kernel and see if it emits a white, milky liquid. This is a clue that you have high-quality, ready-to-eat corn. If the kernel is doughy or dry, it is probably past its peak.

How to Store Corn

Alt Text 20
Recipes | Ideas & Inspiration | Waitrose & Partners

You can store corn shucked or with the husks still on. Either way, it’s important to keep things cool—and aim to consume the corn ASAP, Brekke advises. “Personally, I adhere to the rule that sweet corn needs to be eaten within 24 hours of it being picked for the best flavor,” she says. “Once the corn has been picked, all of those delicious sugars in the kernels quickly convert to starch.”

If you’re not going to eat the corn immediately, store it whole in the refrigerator (below 40°F) to help the kernels stay as sweet and tender as possible. Refrigerated corn in the husk should last for about 1 week. To extend its life even further, consider freezing corn or canning corn. If you opt to shuck the corn before storing it, place the ears in a large plastic bag to help retain moisture, Brekke recommends.

How to Shuck Corn

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Recipes | Ideas & Inspiration | Waitrose & Partners

Most recipes call for shucking corn before cooking it, but others—like our Boiled-in-the-Husk Corn on the Cob, Oven-Roasted Chile Butter Corn, and Grilled Corn with Smoky Lime Butter—call for cooking it in the husk. It should be fairly easy to pull the husk away after it has been cooked, and that’s actually our secret for shucking corn the easiest and cleanest way! Here’s how to shuck corn via the method our Test Kitchen experts swear by to keep the kitchen spick-and-span:

  1. Using a sharp chef’s knife, cut an inch or two off of the stem end of an ear of corn while leaving the tip of the ear and the silks intact.

  2. Arrange two to four ears of corn on a microwave-safe plate.3. Microwave the corn on high for 3-5 minutes, or until the husks are steaming hot to the touch.

  3. Using oven mitts or a kitchen towel, carefully remove the plate from the microwave. The plate and corn will be hot, so be cautious.

  4. Hold the tip of the ear with one hand and grab the husks at the other end with your other hand. Give the husks a gentle twist and pull them away from the corn. The husks should come off easily, taking the silks with them.

  5. Discard the husks and silks, and your corn is ready to use in your favorite recipes!

Now that you know how to shuck corn easily, you can enjoy the sweet, juicy kernels in a variety of dishes. Whether you prefer classic boiled corn on the cob, grilled corn with butter, or incorporating corn into salads, salsas, or soups, there are countless ways to savor this versatile vegetable. Enjoy!

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