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    Veggie Tip-to-Tail Project: Sweet Corn Relish and Corn Cob Jelly


    Listen up...I'm going to show you how to use your whole ear.

    Your ear of sweet corn, that is.

    Let's start with Sweet Corn Relish. Have you ever tried it? I think it's mostly a Southern thing, but I guarantee it tastes pretty darn good right here in the Pacific Northwest.

    Sweet Corn Relish is full of crunchy goodness. The freshness of the sweet corn is evident in every tasty bite and its brine is reminiscent of Grandma's old-fashioned Bread & Butter Pickles.  


    The jar pictured below is Corn Cob Jelly. It's an old-timey thing and it really appeals to the "don't let anything go to waste" side of me. I hadn't even tasted Corn Cob Jelly before I made it and somewhere along the way I decided to give it my own twist, which meant adding sea salt & freshly cracked black pepper. So it's appealing sweet yet intriguingly salty at the same time.

    Think Kettle Corn in a jar.    

    It might sound odd but the Corn Cob Jelly was quite tasty with a big pat of butter on a freshly-baked biscuit. 


    Here's how it all started: 


     25 ears of fresh-picked bi-color sweet corn.

    And I mean SWEET!

    Don't cook the ears of corn, just cut the kernels off the cob.

    Warning: this is a fairly messy project. Deep down inside I knew it would be. I'm sure there are easier ways to accomplish this end result, but I seem to forget how messy this job is until I'm right in the middle of it.

    By the way, there are all sorts of tips for making this job easier (like using a bundt pan to hold the ear of corn upright for you) but I always seem to end up just keeping it simple when it comes to tools: Knife, cutting board, mop.


    On the left, cabbage, bell peppers, onions and celery. On the right? Corn!

    Mix up a batch of zesty brine in a big pan.

    Add your veggies...all of 'em....and stir, stir, stir.


     Crank up the heat until the corn relish mixture boils, then turn it down to a simmer for about 15 minutes and that's it. Ready to eat as a side dish or as a condiment on burgers or hot dogs. It should keep in the fridge for at least 2 weeks...maybe even longer with all that vinegar.

    But if you're like me and you made more than you can realistically eat in a week...or a month...put it up in jars & process.



    So now what do I do with all the cobs? I could make Corn Cob Pipes or save them for fire starters, but since I'm obviously obsessed with preserving I'm going to turn them into Corn Cob Jelly.

    Break up the cobs and boil for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.


     Strain 3 cups of the corn cob liquid into a saucepan. Add pectin* and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve. Boil one minute, then add 3 cups of sugar. Boil hard for one more minute**.

    Skim and put in jars. Refrigerate and use within one month, or seal & process and use within one year.

    *Pectins vary. There are several brands of boxed pectin available, as well as liquid pectin  and Pomona Pectin, which is a 2 step process. Please refer to the particular type of pectin you have on hand, and follow instructions for making jelly with 3 cups of liquid/juice. If using low-sugar or no-sugar pectin, you may of course reduce the amount of sugar used here.

    **Boiling time required will vary depending on your type of pectin. This recipe was made using a standard 1.75 ounce box of pectin. Please follow instructions included with your pectin.


    Well I didn't quite accomplish my goal of using the entire ear of corn from "tip-to-tail", because I didn't figure out a way to use the husks for anything.

    Got any ideas?*

    And while you're brainstorming, maybe you have some ideas for the rest of the corn cob cooking liquid. 

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    Reader Comments (11)

    I would freeze the extra liquid and use it this winter to make more corncob jell of use it as a stock for soup. I'm sure it sweet and tasty!1

    September 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCindy Nardo Gross

    You can use the husks for making tamales or corn husk dolls. I am intrigued by the corn cob jelly recipe--I will definitely have to try it. As for the leftover liquid, I have no idea. I once had "corn wine", but not sure how it was made. Thanks for the recipes!

    September 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBrandi H

    Cindy that is a great idea!
    It's in my fridge now but I think I should freeze it and forget about it for a little while, until more corn-y inspiration strikes.

    Considering all the specialty cocktails right now that include obscure liquids like tomato water and other recipe "by-products" , I'll bet I could invent something with my corn cob water.

    Thanks for the tip.
    (I think I'll freeze it in 3 cups increments, just in case I get another idea for a variation of Corn Cob Jelly!)

    September 15, 2011 | Registered CommenterBrook Hurst Stephens

    Brandy, did you just see me hit myself in the side of the head in one of those, "why didn't I think of that?!" moments?

    Tamales...of course! Well, not that I've ever made them, but I have a book full of tamale recipes and I've always wanted to learn.

    Corn Husk Dolls I had thought of...they are definitely adorable.

    Corn Wine? Hmmm. Verrryyy interesting. More research needed but I might know just the person who will take that project on. I am going to be the first in line for samples too.

    September 15, 2011 | Registered CommenterBrook Hurst Stephens

    I've found that you can use a bundt pan to de-kernel corn from the cob. Use the center of the pan to hold the cob in place, then use your knife to cut down the cob. The kernels fall into the pan--hardly any mess! Works great. I've made corn cob jelly before, it was wonderful. A delightful taste--kinda like kettle corn and kinda like honey. I never thought to add salt and pepper tho...that would be interesting.

    September 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSaeriu

    I saw a recipe this summer about making caramel corn popsicles. They made stock with the corn cobs, I believe they added sugar, maybe a touch of cream. The top half of the popsicle sticks were wrapped in caramels, then frozen inside the sweetened corn broth. Sounded really good, but I can't find the recipe anywhere!

    September 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAlicia


    I am definitely going to try the bundt pan trick next time. It makes so much sense...I can't believe I'd never heard of it before until now.

    So happy to hear you have made Corn Cob Jelly too. Yes, I think it is very honey-like. That's the perfect description.

    Thanks for sharing your tip!

    September 17, 2011 | Registered CommenterBrook Hurst Stephens

    Alicia....Caramel Corn Popsicles? Mmmmmmm!

    My friend Heather ( was talking about the fancy & delicious popsicles she made the other day. I'm going to run this one by her...maybe she's heard of the recipes you are describing. I think it sounds super fun.

    Have you ever seen Caramel Apple suckers in the candy section of a convenience store? I went through a phase a couple years ago where I had to eat one of those every day. In the beginning, they were all Green Apple-flavored, but I think the company ended up creating two more apple-inspired flavors: "Golden Delicious" & Red Delicious". But I digress.

    I am inspired. I love it when my readers inspire me to create new things. I don't just spend ALL my time preserving; I just like to be in the kitchen.

    September 18, 2011 | Registered CommenterBrook Hurst Stephens

    Love this, all of it! Using it all is so Important. As for the cobs, I compost them. They dont break down very fast but they provide home for insects and bacteria in the compost. If the cob is still hanging around when the rest of the compost is done, I just pitch it back into the fresh pile. I will definately be trying the corn cob jelly!

    My corncob jelly is made from dry red corncobs. Delicious and reminiscent of apple or maybe plum jelly. My dad asked for 4 oz jars to give to his friends! (the red cobs came from his corn fields.)

    October 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJudith Inge

    WVH: Yes, I did put the corn cobs in our composter, and while they don't break down for eons, I still feel better about seeing them in the composter and knowing they aren't in a landfill somewhere. Let me know how that jelly turns out!

    And Judith: I red somewhere about using red corncobs for making the jelly but honestly, I don't even know what those are. I pictured beautiful ornamental Indian Corn in my head when I read this. Don't you just love those 4 oz jars? Everything looks more precious in those little cuties. Thanks for your comment. I wish I'd had you to go to for advice when I was first making the jelly :)

    October 8, 2011 | Registered CommenterBrook Hurst Stephens
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