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Does anyone have any tips for how to easily and quickly remove silk from ears of corn? I find that it takes a long time to pick it all out.

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I'm excited for an answer to this one. Drives me crazy. – Michael at Herbivoracious Aug 5 '10 at 17:01
FYI if you save the silks til they turn black, they are quite satisfactory to smoke as a tobacco substitute. Apparently this was quite common when my father-in-law was growing up. Tastes a bit like almond! – Doug Sep 1 '11 at 17:32

11 Answers 11

up vote 8 down vote accepted

If you're cooking it on the cob, remove the silk after you've cooked it. I typically microwave my corn in the inner husk, when you pull it out the silk just slides right off.

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I grill mine in the husk (this works great btw), and the same thing holds true. The silk comes right off. – Satanicpuppy Aug 5 '10 at 17:29
I've never thought of microwaving it before... do you put it in a dish with water? Covered? About how long do you cook it? I'd like to try this. – JustRightMenus Aug 5 '10 at 20:58
If your corn is fresh then it should have plenty of moisture of it's own. With fresh corn I simply take it down to it's inner husk and throw it unadorned in the microwave. My old microwave took about 80s for one ear, my new one is about 45s. Two ears takes a little less than twice as long. Beyond that it's kind of trial and error. Each ear added adds less to the cooking time than the one before. If your corn is meh, you can place it on a couple of damp paper towels. – hobodave Aug 5 '10 at 21:08
I also find it much easier to remove corn silk after it's cooked. My preferred method is by oven in the husk. Usually when I go to strip off the husk all the silk goes with it. – Ven'Tatsu Aug 5 '10 at 22:48
There's actually a video from America's Test Kitchen recommending essentially this (also chopping the end off): I was pretty surprised at how well it works. – Jefromi Jul 11 '12 at 1:22

I use a soft brush (technically, it was sold as a mushroom brush).

Just brush along the length of the ear, towards the stem end, and it removes almost all of the silk. (way more than I'd get done using any other method).

update : So I was husking corn with my step-father, and noticed that I have much less silk left on the corn I was working on that needed to be brushed off, so I think some of it is the initial husk-removal technique:

If you attempt to peel off each leaf of the husk, you'll end up with almost all of the silk still on the corn. If you grab with both hands at the top of the ear, then pull in opposite directions to tear the husk, and pull down (I aim for taking off about 1/3 of the husk at a time), most of the silk will stick to the husk, leaving only a little bit of silk left that can be taken care of with a brush.

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I haven't found that to work so well for me (I have both soft and slightly firmer brushes). Will try again now that I know someone else swears by it. – Michael at Herbivoracious Aug 5 '10 at 17:02
@Michael : it might be all about finding the right brush, and using the right amount of pressure. I also don't know if corn fresh from the farmstand might be easier to clean that corn that's sat around for a day or two. Mine looks like this : (although it doesn't have the white thing under it, it looks like it was molded from a single piece of plastic) – Joe Aug 5 '10 at 18:17
The brush didn't work very well for me, though it did mean I could remove the silk from hot, cooked corn w/o burning my fingers. – JustRightMenus Aug 10 '10 at 19:43
@JustRightMenus : I've always done it cold, before cooking. I've never tried it hot. It might be that we need to get one of the kitchen gadget companies to do the research to build the correctly bristled brush (bristle stiffness & number of bristles per square inch) for this task. Anyone have any connections? And does this count as prior art to keep someone from patenting the idea? – Joe Aug 10 '10 at 21:57
Yeah, I tried cold, too. I'll probably try again w/ another batch of corn b/c my family really does not like the silk on their corn and I really don't like how hard it is to remove before cooking. – JustRightMenus Aug 11 '10 at 1:28

:-) Rachel Ray has a suggestion... Use a rubber band to "thread" it off.

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If after taking out of the microwave you cut off the stem end with a large knife, and include a little of the bottom row of corn, it all just slips off clean as a whistle.

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Running it under cold water while rubbing it helps a lot. For informal meals, I just use dental floss to pick it out of my teeth later.

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Ditto. I figure that 15 seconds wasted on teeth-cleaning is better than 15 minutes wasted on picking the damn things apart. – Aaronut Aug 5 '10 at 17:13
I'm trying to imagine the formal meals at which you serve corn on the cob :). – Michael at Herbivoracious Sep 1 '11 at 16:06

I also refrigerate it for a bit before I clean the corn. Sticky things get less sticky when they're cold. If the corn's at room temp or higher, the silk is going to stick more.

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I find that running towel down the cob helps to pull all the silk away from the corn. It would help to wet the corn first, but it's not necessary.

Basically, you're just trying to get a better grip on it. I'm sure you've used towels before to help you open a jar or can - it's the same idea here.

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Use a couple of wet paper towels under cold running water, and rub toward the stem end for a few seconds. Works like a charm.

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Corn Silk Removal using "Norwex" Vegtable cleaning cloth (size of dish cloth). Directions:

  1. After cob is husked, and easliy removed silk is pulled off, place cobs in tub of water.

  2. Place the vegtable cleaning cloth product in one hand, cob in the other, keep submerged, rotate in spining motions, then linear movements (two cobs per minute).

Then it's done - 99% effective for silk removal. Blows the doors off of brushes, burning over a gas flame and microwaving.

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I know this is an old post but I have found a wonderful corn brush just recently. It works better than I hoped it would!

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The single review on that says that it doesn't work at all. I'm not sure whether to believe them or you. – Jefromi Jun 12 '13 at 22:11

Easy way to remove Silk from corn. Use a cornsilker machine!!. Can do 15 ears a minute, removes silk from husked corm and does not damage kernels.

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This does actually answer the question (though I'm not sure it's something anyone would do at home) so I'll leave it here. – Jefromi Jul 3 '14 at 19:57

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