Summer corn is a beautiful thing. Eaten straight off the cob ― grilled, boiled or even raw ― it defines the taste of summer. There’s just one tiny problem with it: summer corn produces a lot of waste. If you compost, the husks and cobs will fill up your bucket faster than you can eat the kernels. If you don’t, there’s a lot of good organic material that gets put straight in the trash. The solution to this summer conundrum is whole corn cooking.
The corn kernels might be the highlight of each ear of corn, but it’s not the only part of this summer staple that can be used in the kitchen. The cobs actually contain a lot of that beloved corn flavor.
Once the kernels have been cut off, the cobs can be simmered in a big pot of water to make some of the silkiest broth that has ever graced your stove. This rich stuff is a dream in corn chowder, makes summer risotto taste heavenly and can be used to make fresh corn polenta, too. It's easy to make; just cover the cobs with water in a large stock pot, bring to a boil then let it simmer for about 20 minutes. Now you can toss the cobs because you've gotten everything out of them that you can.
Then, there are the husks.
The husks create so much waste. And while you probably can’t find a use for all the husks you’ll be peeling this summer, you can at least save some of them for cooking purposes. Corn husks are great for making tamales ― if you haven’t yet done so, try these now. (You’ll want to dry the husks first.) Husks can also be stuffed with seafood and cooked on the grill. Or with chicken and, um, corn.
Not one piece of the ear of corn has to go unused ― and all of it will make your summer taste better. Make less waste and more bang for your buck.