How to Shuck Corn on the Cob Like a True Midwesterner
If you grew up anywhere in the Midwest, you probably look back fondly (or not) on the days when your afternoon chore was shucking a dozen ears of corn on the back porch. But if buying corn on the cob is new to you, the process of cleaning the husk and silk from those ears can seem daunting, time consuming and really messy. No worries, friend. We’re here to show you how to shuck corn in four easy-peasy steps.
Step 1: Peel the outer leaves
First, peel away the outermost leaves of the husk, leaving behind the tassel of silk and a thin layer of husk close to the cob. Discard those leaves—or even better, compost them.
Step 2: Remove the tassel and inner husk
Once the outer leaves are gone, you should be able to remove the rest of the husk more easily. The best way to do this in one (or almost one) fell swoop is to grasp the tassel (that bunch of silk at the top) along with the tip of one piece of husk and tug down firmly, removing a portion of the silk and husk at the same time. Repeat with the remaining husk, working around the ear in sections. You can leave the husk attached to the stalk end or not; we’ll deal with that next.
Step 3: Break off the remaining husk and stalk
At this point, you should have a relatively clean ear of corn with a hard, light yellow stalk at the bottom (husk attached or not). With the ear of corn held gently but firmly in one hand, use your other hand to snap the stalk end off the ear. Compost those bits!
Step 4: Clean any stray silks and blemishes
You’re almost there. The final step is to clean up any bits of silk that are still clinging to the corn. You can get as meticulous as you want here, but if you’re boiling the corn, know that a lot of the silk will come off in the water (so don’t worry about it too much). Some corn-shuckers use a vegetable brush to clean the silk out of those nooks and crannies, but we actually advice against that. Why? Because the kernels are delicate, and those brushes have a way of turning them to mush. No, thank you.
Now, go forth and cook that gorgeous, gleaming shucked corn!
How to Choose the Best Corn:
- Do not shuck before you buy.We repeat: Do not shuck before you buy! Even though you’ve probably seen other corn-buyers peel back the husk to take a peek at the kernels, this is poor corn etiquette. It leaves those kernels susceptible to damage and drying out, so don’t peel the corn unless you already know you’re going to buy it.
- Feel the corn. Gently (gently!) squeeze the ear of corn to assess the kernel size and texture. You’re going for plump, even and abundant; pass if you can feel holes from missing kernels.
- Avoid dry silk. The corn silk is that bundle of thread-like fibers (aka the tassel) on the top of the ear. The freshest corn will have light brown, sticky silk. If it’s dry or black, skip it.
- Look for a bright green husk. If the husk (the outer part that you shuck away) is bright green and wrapped taut, it’s a good ear. Really fresh corn should feel damp to the touch.
16 Recipes to Make With Fresh Corn
- Spicy Corn Carbonara
- Summer Skillet Gnocchi with Grilled Corn and Burrata
- Cheater’s Skillet Lasagna with Corn and Cherry Tomatoes
- 30-Minute Creamy Chicken, Corn and Tomato Skillet
- Sweet Corn Doughnut Holes
- White Risotto with Corn, Carrots and Kale
- Roasted Poblano and Corn Guacamole
- Creamy Sweet Corn Pappardelle
- Corn Fritter Caprese with Peaches and Tomatoes
- Lime Chicken with Corn and Poblano Salad
- Pan-Seared Scallops with Citrusy Corn Succotash
- Smoky Barbecued Corn
- Market Corn Chowder with Summer Savory
- Mexican Street Corn Dip
- Grilled Corn with Spicy Aioli
- Crock-Pot Corn Chowder