The Food52 Hotline is where questions go to get answered—from the best way to thaw a frozen cake to the best all-purpose flour for baking. Today, we’re talking about summery, golden, buttery corn. Which we love more than anything. Except, ahem, its pesky silk strands. How the heck do you remove those things? And what is our test kitchen’s go-to way to shuck corn? Let’s find out.
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Around here, we could talk about corn all day: how to choose an ear (no peeking!), the best way to cook it on the cob, and how to use the whole ingredient—yep, every single part. And don’t get us started on our favorite ways to eat it: raw, charred, creamed, and even churned into ice cream. And of course we’re all in love with kitschy cob-shaped holders. Corny? Oh, we don’t care.
But if there’s anything standing between us and corn, it’s the silk. You know, those wispy strands clinging to the kernels? On the Hotline, Food52er Kathy asked for the best way to remove corn silk, and we were all ears to hear what the community had to say…
- Try removing the silk with a clean nail brush or soft dish brush as Monita does.
- Opt for a dedicated vegetable brush (for corn or mushrooms) like Dona and kimhw recommend.
- Skip the specialty brushes: Miznic opts for a toothbrush, “usually picked up for about 99 cents.”
- Pegreen suggests the microwave method: “Cut a small slice off the stem end of un-husked ear of corn. Put a few ears in microwave on high for 30 seconds, the husk and silk should come off more easily. Then cook corn as desired.”
- Can’t be bothered to get rid of the silky wisps? You aren’t alone. Our senior graphic designer removes the corn silk “with my teeth, while I’m eating, because I’m too lazy to remove it.”
Thanks, everyone! We’ll have to try that teeth trick later—but for now, here are our test kitchen’s top tips on how to shuck corn:
- When shopping, pick a heavy ear, with firm kernels (go ahead, give it a little squeeze).
- Peel away the tough, outer leaves, and discard.
- Grab the silky tassel on top, along with a handful of green leaves, and pull from the top to the bottom, in one strong motion. Discard the silk and leaves.
- Repeat the previous step until most of the silk and all the leaves are gone.
- Snap off the bottom stalk. (Or leave it on if you like a handle!)
- Use a small, clean brush, such as a vegetable brush or toothbrush, to scrub away any remaining corn silk. Easy.
And now that the silk is gone (yahoo!), here are a few of our favorite recipes with fresh corn:
Sriracha-Lime Corn Salad
Perfect next to grilled chicken, crispy fish, or a juicy steak. (Also, perfect to bring to a potluck!) Sweet corn gets paired up with spicy Sriracha, diced bell pepper, fresh cilantro, and crumbly Cotija cheese.
New-Fashioned Corn Pudding
A contemporary—and much more savory—take on classic corn pudding. Skip the sugar and bring in sautéed onion and garlic. And instead of just milk or cream, throw in some buttermilk and sharp cheddar for good measure.
Corn Fritters With Cheddar & Scallions
The corniest corn fritters you’ll ever meet. The fresh kernels are bound together with grated cheese and sliced scallions, plus a little egg and flour. We love how they brown and crisp in the pan, forming potato chip-like edges.
Pasta With Tomatoes, Corn, Squash & Ricotta
Name a summerier pasta—we’ll wait. Our co-founder Merrill Stubbs opts for shells and basil, but feel free to play around with both the pasta shape and fresh herbs. Penne, orecchiete, and rigatoni would all be happy here. As would mint, thyme, chives, or a mix.
This article originally published in May 2014. We refreshed it for another summer of eating too much corn (just kidding, no such thing). What are your tricks for removing corn silk? And what’s your favorite corn recipe of the summer? Let us know in the comments.
Photos by Eric Moran