This weekend I was given 100 ears of corn by my mother. We enjoyed some fresh off the cob, and I spent Saturday working on preserving the rest so we could enjoy corn year round. I canned the corn kernels, dried the corn silk for tea, made jelly out of the corn cobs, and fed the corn husks to our cow.
How to Can Corn:
Shuck your corn and remove the silks. In a pot of boiling water, blanch your corn by boiling for 2 minutes. Remove the corn and set aside to cool until you can handle it easily. Get out a plate or large bowl and use a knife to cut the kernels off the cob. You don't want to get bits of cob in your corn, so aim to cut off 3/4 of the kernels. Pack the corn kernels in your jars and fill to 3/4" head space with water. You can optionally add 1/2 teaspoon salt to each pint or 1 teaspoon to quarts. This is for flavoring only. I do not add salt. Process your corn in a pressure canner, 55 minutes for pints and 1 hours 25 minutes for quarts.
Corn Silk Tea:
Don't throw away those corn silks! Corn silk can be dried and used to make tea. Corn silk tea is a diuretic, which means it makes you pee! It is great for flushing the kidneys and urinary tract, and very helpful for urinary and prostate health. It's high in potassium, and helpful in preventing kidney stones.
To save your corn silks, remove them from the corn and cut off the brown, dirty tops. Lay the corn silk out flat on a baking sheet lined with paper towels, and set it out of the way to dry. I put mine on top of my soap rack in the kitchen. It takes about a week for corn silk to dry in my kitchen, because it's very humid where I live. Depending on your humidity and temperatures, it might take less time for you. Once your corn silk is dry you can chop it into small pieces and store in a jar like any dried herb.
To make tea add a rough tablespoon of dried corn silk to a cup of boiling water and allow to steep for 10-15 minutes. Remove the corn silk and flavor your tea with honey, sugar, etc to your taste. It doesn't taste bad but it doesn't taste splendid either, so I mix in a little dried mint with the corn silk to give the tea a more palatable flavor.
Corn Silk Tincture:
You can also make a tincture from corn silks. I love tinctures because they are so easy! Grab a glass jar (I used a canning jar, but you could use an old candle jar, a washed out jelly jar, etc) and fill it 1/4 full of corn silks. Pour some inexpensive vodka over it and allow it to infuse for 4 to 6 weeks in a cool, dark place (like under your kitchen sink). Shake it every few days or whenever you think about it. After 6 weeks, strain out the corn silks and add 1/2 teaspoon to your evening tea. This has the same benefits as the tea.
Corn Cob Jelly Recipe:
Corn cob jelly is a honey-like jelly. Take 12 medium to large corn cobs and boil them in 4 cups of water for 10 minutes. You can save the water from blanching your corn and use that - waste not! Strain out the cobs in a cheesecloth and reserve the cooking liquid for jelly. You should have 3 to 3.5 cups of liquid. Add in 3 cups of sugar and a package of pectin.
Now I'll tell you a little secret to getting your jams and jellies to set: get out your candy thermometer and boil the juice, sugar, and pectin mixture until it reaches 220 degrees Fahrenheit. The reason most jelly sets fail is because they don't get it hot enough - if you get it to 220f it will set. You can test it on a cold plate to make sure - put a plate in the freezer while you are boiling the jelly, and when you think it's done puddle a little on the frozen plate. Wait a few seconds, then swipe a finger through the puddle. If it breaks cleanly, your jelly is set.
Once you're sure the jelly is set, ladle your hot jam into jars and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.
Corn Husks as Animal Feed:
And finally, what to do with all those corn husks? Well I fed them to my cow, but chickens, goats, or sheep might also enjoy them. If you don't have any of those animals, put them in the compost or use them as mulch in the garden!
I also had a few ears of corn that were a little dry or just too small. I fed some to Grady and he loved them!