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How to make corn broth

Don’t throw away the husks, silks, and cobs the next time you cook fresh corn on the cob. Transform them into a light, delicious broth for summer soups. 

By The Rowdy Chowgirl / August 21, 2012

Fresh summer corn is lovely grilled on the cob and its husks can be boiled down to make a light corn broth.

The Rowdy Chowgirl

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We wait for so many things in life, whether with dread or anticipation. We check our watches and flip through magazines waiting for our name to be called. We sit at a restaurant bar, dressed up and hopeful, and glance toward the door with fluttering heart each time it opens. Is that him?

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The Rowdy Chowgirl

Christina Masters is a Seattle-based food blogger. As The Rowdy Chowgirl, she writes about recipes, gardening, restaurants, food ethics, feeding the hungry, and more. She believes that food is never just food – it is always part of a larger story that includes context, community and connections. An enthusiastic home cook, she favors local, seasonal ingredients prepared in simple, flavorful ways

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And we wait for summer. That wait gets shorter every year it seems, as the seasons fly by in a blurry montage rather than creeping along as they did when I was younger.

Just like that, it is mid-summer and corn season again. Out of the gigantic cardboard box at the produce store, I selected six fat ears of corn.  On Sunday, after a long lazy afternoon spent lolling on a picnic blanket in the park, we put them on the grill. Rather than cooking the ears straight on the grill in their husks as I normally would, I peeled back the husks, removed the silks, then tugged the husks back into place. I soaked them in water for about a half hour, then rolled them in foil before placing them on the grill in order to prevent the husks charring.

We ate two ears of corn with our dinner. I husked all the corn, cutting off the funky brown parts of the silk at the top, but otherwise saving the husks and silk. I cut the remaining four ears of corn off the cobs, and saved those cobs and all of the husks and silks in the refrigerator. The next evening, I made corn broth. The inspiration for this came from a wonderful cookbook I’ve been reading, "Serve Yourself: Nightly Adventures in Cooking for One" by Joe Yonan.

Although I make stock from poultry carcasses and vegetable trimmings, it had never occurred to me to make stock out of the leavings from fresh corn.  This idea appealed on a few levels: I try to avoid food waste and am always on the lookout for new ways to use what would otherwise be discarded.  I also look for opportunities to turn one meal into two or several.

And so there I was, boiling up some corn broth. This was really no harder than it would have been to dump those leftover bits straight into the compost bin.  I admit I was a bit skeptical when I looked in the pot after an hour or so and saw mushy corn husks and water. But after cooking a little longer then straining, what had looked like water turned out to be a pale yellow broth – mild and sweet and tasting of summer corn.

How to Make Corn Broth

Save husks, silks, and cobs from 4-6 ears of corn. Discard any browned husks and silks. Cut cobs in half, and put everything into a large stock pot. Cover with water: approximately 8 cups. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer gently for about an hour and a half, or until broth is pale yellow and tastes like corn. 

Remove from heat, let cool slightly, then strain through a colander into a large bowl. Press solids to remove as much broth as possible.  Pour broth through a finer strainer to remove any last bits. You will have about 5-6 cups of broth, which can be refrigerated for a few days or frozen for a few months.

Related post on The Rowdy Chowgirl: Grilled Corn

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