Do This Before Throwing Away Your Corn Cobs

When it comes to the fine art of cooking corn on the cob, there are a lot of mistakes to be made. They can run the gamut from not paying attention to the color of the tassels (look for golden tassels when corn shopping) to premature husking (don't remove the husks until you're about to start cooking, and certainly not while you're still in the supermarket) to over-cooking and over-topping (no disrespect to Mexican street corn, which is great). Perhaps you've already advanced beyond the beginner's corn-er, in which case, corn-gratulations. Unfortunately, you still might be doing it wrong — if, that is, you don't know this amazing trick that you can do with your empty cobs once all that delicious corn has been joyously and indelicately gnawed (or sawed) off.  

Now, if you're thinking that the answer is to "toss them into the compost pile," then congratulations because you are, in fact, on the right track. Not to be corny, but composting is a brilliant way to turn your literal trash into your garden's literal treasure. However, if composting is your final answer, you might be missing a step — an important step, as you are about to discover. Here is what you must do with your corn cobs before throwing them away. 

Don't throw away those corn cobs just yet

You know that old saying, "One man's trash is another man's treasure"? Well, it really applies to spent corn cobs because there are many things you can use them for before you toss them onto the compost pile. For starters, you can use them to make corn stock, according to The Kitchn, which you can then use as a soup starter or in your next batch of polenta or risotto. Simply cover those de-corned cobs with water, add a bit of salt (The Spruce Eats recommends also adding herbs and a bay leaf), and simmer for about an hour. But if you don't feel like turning on the stove, you can literally still milk them for all they've got by scraping the cobs with the back of a knife and letting the starchy liquid run into a bowl. 

Don't feel like doing any of that? Then toss them into a zip-top bag and stash it in your freezer. Next time you're poaching fish, drop a cob into your poaching liquid for a hit of surprising but subtle flavor. Or if you're feeling like doing a bit more cooking, you can turn those corn cobs into corn jelly by boiling them for 10 minutes, straining the liquid, and adding pectin. Enjoy on warm bread, as a glaze for chicken, or perhaps slathered on your next grilled corn on the cob.