Many people these days shuck corn by popping it into the microwave first. While this does work, it precooks the corn, which isn’t always ideal. Also, sometimes there isn’t a microwave available. After all, most people don’t keep a microwave in their tent.
So, what other ways can you shuck corn?
You can shuck corn by hand, starting at the top and separating the ends. Then you peel it a lot like you would a banana. Using a soft fingernail brush can help rid any pesky remaining silk. Other silk hacks include a soft toothbrush, dish brush, and tweezers.
Not everyone shucks their corn before they cook it. You can boil, grill, steam, and roast it with the husk on and take it off when it is done.
However, you will need to add a couple of minutes to the cooking time. But some people feel it is cleaner to cook it without the husk. If so, you just need to shuck it by hand.
The Peel: Shucking Corn By Hand
The only downside to shucking corn by hand is that it leaves a lot of silk behind. Many people don’t care, especially if they are throwing it on the BBQ. However, if you want all the silk gone, shucking by hand does take a bit longer.
Step 1: Find the Ends of the Corn Husk and Pull
So there are two ends to your corn: the part that was attached to the main plant and the top. Go to the top end and separate the little “flowery” mess until you have a few main leaves.
Grab one and pull downwards, similar to peeling a banana. A tough banana. Once finished, you’ll have a naked ear of corn, aside from the silk wisps.
Step 2: Brush Your Corn
The tiny strands of silk leftover can drive some people bonkers. There are those that claim that it feels like they are eating corn with dental floss all over it. Thankfully, there are ways to do it should you want your ears to be silk-free
The Finger Method
The most common method is to pick it off with your fingers. However, it is a fiddly task. But it is a very accurate method.
A second method is to use a clean fingernail brush or a toothbrush and gently brush the corn. Some people also use a soft dish brush. Lastly, there are specialized vegetable brushes for this task. However, many find they are not anymore helpful than the nail brush or toothbrush, which is often cheaper.
Remember to use gentle strokes when brushing your ear of corn. You don’t want to damage the kernels.
The third method is tweezers. This sounds tedious, but some people do it, and if it makes them happy, then that’s all that matters.
Gripper pads are a common item for people who struggle to open jars. They are inexpensive and easy to find. Run your ear over the pad, like giving it a wash with a cloth, and the silk comes off. Many find this is gentler than the brushing methods, and it is faster than fingers or tweezers.
Cooking Corn with the Husk On
If shucking by hand sounds too exhausting, you really can cook it with the husk on. After all, corn husks are used to make tamales all the time. So, while you shouldn’t eat the husk because they are tough to digest, they are not poisonous. In addition, the husk helps hold in the flavor. Thus, many prefer the taste of corn when it is cooked with husk.
Boiling corn in the husk is easy. First, fill your pot with water and set it on the stove or fire. Then you wait for the water to boil. Once you’ve got bubbles, toss your corn in and leave it for 10 minutes.
Once done, drain the corn and shuck it was you would the microwave method: cut the top end off and shake it from the bottom.
Roasting corn is also easy; it just takes a bit longer than boiling. First, get your oven to a nice 350 F (180 C). Next, stick your corn on a baking sheet and slide in. Leave it all in there for 30 minutes, and you’re done.
Lastly, shuck as you would when microwaved.
Many people prefer to grill or BBQ their corn with the husk on so the corn kernels don’t get signed. It takes 15 minutes on (or under) a hot grill, turning occasionally.
Once finished, it is easy shucking, just like it would be with a microwave.
Steaming corn takes a tall pot, slightly taller than your corn. Fill the large pot with 1.5-2 inches of water (3.8-5cm). Once it is boiling, stand the corn up in the pot with its stem side down.
Then cover your steaming corn with a lid and let it seam away for a good 15-20 minutes. Be sure to top up the water if necessary, so nothing burns.
Once finished, it is easy to shuck and will have a much more intense flavor than if you did this without the husk.
What Are Corn Husks Good For?
Corn husks are an excellent natural food wrapper, keeping cooking juices in. They are commonly used in making tamales. Corn husks are also a wonderful substitute for banana leaves, which many fish dishes require.
To store, just lay clean husks on a pan in the sun. Once dry, place in a clean freezer bag and seal it up.
Or you can lay them on a cooling rack and heat them at 140F (60 C) with the door cracked open. However, this method takes 8 hours.
Once they are dry and cool, store them in your sealable bags.
The husks should keep for up to a year. However, if you want to use them for cooking, you’ll need to soak them for a few hours in water to make them pliable.
However, dried husks also make excellent fire starters. A perfect alternative to newspaper, which is a dwindling commodity in the days of internet news.
Lastly, you could always compost them. Your garden will appreciate it.
Shucking corn by hand is pretty easy; it just leaves a bit more silk on the ear. But using a soft brush or a gripper pad should help you get rid of the silk pretty easily. However, many people find it easier and tastier just to leave the husk on when you cook it.
I have a bachelor’s degree in Film/Video/Media Studies, as well as an associates degree in Communications. I began producing videos and musical recordings nearly 15 years ago. I am a guitarist and bassist in Southwest MI and have been in a few different bands since 2009, and in 2012 I began building custom guitars and basses in my home workshop as well. When I’m home, I love spending time with my three pets (a dog, cat, and snake) and gardening in my backyard.