Canning 101: How to Shuck Corn Easily

September 5, 2014

shucked corn

Two years ago, I made a triple batch of roasted corn salsa (the recipe is in Food in Jars). It is my husband’s favorite preserve and I like it a whole heck of a lot as well. We eat it with rice and black bean bowls in the winter, and over chicken fajita salads once the weather starts to warm. It’s also a nice topper for homemade nachos (as you can see here).

As much as I enjoy eating this salsa, I’ve never enjoyed the process of making it. That’s all changed now that I’ve discovered the secret to easily shuck the corn and remove most of the corn silk. I now roast the corn at 400 degrees F in its husk for about seven minutes in a hot oven before attempting to shuck it. Once the time in the oven is up, I pull the corn out and let it cool for ten minutes or so.

oven roasted corn

Once it is cool enough to handle, the husk comes off cleanly and leaves only a strand or two of corn silk behind (and those strands are easy enough to wipe away). This little trick has transformed a job I dread into one where I can clean two dozen ears of corn in just a few minutes without feeling in any way irritated by the task.

I do have a word of warning about this trick. Corn husks are flammable. Make sure to keep the husks and silk well away from the flame or heating element. I like to stack the ears on a rimmed cookie sheet so that I can move them quickly if something starts to singe. I also take care not to stray far from the kitchen when I’m roasting corn like this so that I can keep a close eye on the happenings.

PS: If you have an outdoor grill, I bet you could use that instead of your oven. I don’t have access to a grill, so stick to the oven approach.

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20 thoughts on "Canning 101: How to Shuck Corn Easily"

  • We were planning to blanch and freeze a bunch of corn. Would this method cook the corn at all or is it just enough to dry the husks?

    1. The corn steams in the husk, so it actually just cooks while in the oven. If you’re prepping it for the freezer, it should be enough cooking to kill the enzymes that will degrade the corn while stored.

  • I always cook a big batch of corn anytime I heat up my grill, some gets used for your salsa recipe, some gets made into salad and some I freeze for winter soups. It’s the easiest way ever to husk and cook corn.

  • Oh, I wish I had know about this a month or so ago when I harvested all my sweet corn! It was shucking & de-silking by hand and then big pots of boiling water followed by big pans of ice water!!

    Definitely saving this for next year.

  • Cut off nontassel end across end of cob and place two ears in a microwave on high for 7 1/2 minutes. (Don’t clean, remove husk, or add water. I just lay on the microwave floor.) Let cook slightly and just squeeze out from closed end – silk is gone and corn is perfectly cooked (and no grilling mess or oven on fire!).

    1. The microwave tip works great with just a few cobs, but if you’re working on multiple dozens, the oven is faster. As long as you’re careful, you shouldn’t set anything on fire!

  • I roast corn on the grill all the time, but I soak it in the sink for at least 1/2 hour first to avoid the fire issuse, I would probably soak it before putting it in the oven.

      1. Just a caution, the soaking isn’t a fix all… I do this on the grill for large batches of corn, and especially in an arid climate (I live in Utah) it will still catch fire quite easily! Humid environments have a leg up on this one 🙂

  • This year I’ve started using the microwave. I cut the stalk end off so the leaves will come off easily, peel off the grungy looking outer leaves of the husk, trim the browned end of the silk, and zap them a few minutes. Seems to work pretty well, including pulling the silk off easily. Cooler than heating up the oven; too lazy to drag out the grill.

  • If you trim the ears – cut the silk end bluntly and cut off the dangling bits of husk and loose pieces – it lessens the fire danger. I always cook my corn on the cob this way, the only difference being that I cook at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Haven’t boiled corn in years.

    1. I second Terry’s recommendation about snipping the silk end and the loose husk tips before oven roasting–works a treat!

  • The introduction to the recipe For Roasted Corn Salsa in Food in Jars mentions red peppers, but other than red pepper flakes, the ingredient is left out. Help??

  • I just did 4 dozen ear of corn using this method. Still a long process, but definitely easier and not nearly as messy as shucking and blanching in boiling water. I upped the time in the oven just a bit – I found 9 minutes did the trick for me.

  • I’ve heard of this steaming method to remove corn silks before and was all set to try it until my husband commented that if the corn was buggy (earworms anyone?) or sprayed with pesticide, that we’d end up cooking it into our food. So, how do you avoid those issues?

    1. We get our corn from an organic farm, and there’s always an ear or two that has a stowaway worm – if you soak the corn before roasting they generally will crawl, and then they just drown in the sink. No roasted worms…

  • I had a salsa-fest with friends this weekend & we whipped up a batch of corn salsa in addition to the roasted tomato salsa on the schedule. Grilled the corn, 2 minutes a side/turn, and also charred (then skinned) the poblano peppers for additional smokiness. It was delicious – thanks for the pantry addition!