Wednesday, May 30

HOW TO: Shuck and remove corn from cob

Shucking corn is a family activity in my household. I set up a "shucking station" on the outside stairs and usually eager helping hands who love to jump in show up. Occasionally, we just need to say something about corn shucking and even the game controllers or ipods get put aside! It is a fun little activity to do at home with kitchen helpers. The next time your a bout to shuck in the store, try it at home instead, see what happens. 
I have recently noticed in the store, that several people don't know how to shuck corn and are often asking other shoppers who are shucking how to remove corn from the cob. So I decided to spend a little time going over this, hopefully it will help speed up your shucking time and give you a nice easy way to remove corn from your cob. It will also help maintain the flavor and juicy quality of the corn, unless you are cooking it the same day you shuck, corn really does better sealed away in it's shuck (protective leaves) until cooking. Trust me shucking at home, will make a difference.
For the first half you will need a shucking station. This will include a  pile of corn to be shucked, a paper bag (for shuck management), and a colander or large bowl for cleaned corn.

Let us begin, look at your cob-you should see one end that has little hairs growing from it. This is the top of your cob, the hairs are the corn silk. On an interesting side note-there is a yarn that actually made from corn silk, talk about going green! Also, corn shucks make a great addition to any compost pile. Anyway, you want to work the shuck away from the silk and towards the bottom of the cob.
Start by pulling the larger leaves of the shuck one or two at a time towards the bottom.
Continue pulling these leaves back, and off if you wish, I leave them on till the end, until you get to the thinner pale leaves. They will be a milky greenish white color and very soft. Once you get to these leaves, grab some silk at the top and pull back, this will unveil the cob itself, and save you from having to go leaf by leaf.
Once you pull everything back, you will need to remove the excess stem at the bottom. If you look where the cob ends and where the shuck attaches to the bottom, you should see a white ridged stem. Apply a tiny bit of pressure here, to do so hold bottom of cob in one hand and the stem in the other and bend, as if trying to snap a twig. For thicker stems or tough ones I use the edge of the table or stairs to add a little extra pressure.
Once your cob has been removed from it's shuck and stem, twist it around in your hands a few times, this will loosen and remove any left over silk strands that are clinging. Making sure the silk is out now, will help your teeth later.
You are now ready to cook your corn or you can remove it from the cob.

Removing corn from the cob is simple, but it takes a very sharp knife. I wouldn't have smaller helping hands try this one. For your set up, you will need a cutting board or mat, a sharp knife which is at least 1 1/2" -2" wide at it's base (smaller chef knife), and a small flat bottom bowl.

Place the bowl upside down on you cutting surface.
Now place the cob, stem side down on top of the bowl.
Grab your knife and starting at the top, guide it behind the kernels and up against the cob center. You will feel resistance, the knife will stop when you hit the center as if you hit a piece of wood.
Run the knife down the side of the center to remove the kernels.
Depending on how thick your cob is, you will need to rotate it and continue to run the knife down it's center, each pass will get easier. I usually take 5 passes to get all the kernels off.
Your corn is now ready to be cooked,  if you are pan roasting just remember you will need a tiny bit more butter or oil to cook, it will brown faster than previously frozen or canned corn.

Also, you will learn something very interesting about quantity when removing your corn. On an average meal my family will each eat 1-2 corn cobs a piece, for a total of 8. But look at the amount of corn that comes off a medium cob-on a night I remove it and cook it separate we only need 3-4? I even measured a family size bag, same thing only 3-4 cobs worth. Apparently corn has a magically way of appearing smaller when on the cob and contains a larger quantity when off the cob? But, that was just a fun observation which made groceries in the summer cost less. I just buy fresh corn, remove it myself, and I usually get two dinners for the price of 1!