How to Remove the Silk from an Ear of Corn

May  3, 2014

There are so many great conversations on the Hotline -- it's hard to choose a favorite. But we'll be doing it, once a week, to spread the wealth of our community's knowledge -- and to keep the conversation going. 

Today: Don't let corn silk come between you and the perfect ear of corn -- here's how to remove those sticky strands.

How to Remove the Silk from Corn Cobs, from Food52

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We’re not ashamed of our food obsessions -- there are some things we’ll just never get sick of. (Hi kale.) And when you love something as much as a twitterpated teen does, you talk about it. All. Of. The. Time.

Around here, acceptable water cooler talk includes how to choose an ear of corn without peeking, debating the best way to cook it, and sharing how to use the whole ear of corn -- every single part of it. Not to mention how we like to eat it: raw, charred, creamed, and evern churned into ice cream. It might not come as a surprise to learn that we’re all in love with kitschy cob-shaped holders. Corny? We don’t care. 

How to Remove the Silk from Corn Cobs, from Food52

Even if you haven't gotten your hands on corn quite yet, it’s never too early to start dreaming about hot summer days and the joy of eating so much corn that you start finding the silk in your hair and on your keyboard. This week Kathy asked for the best way to remove corn silk, and we were all ears to hear what the community had to say:


  • Try removing the silk with a nail brush or a soft dish brush as Monita does.
  • Opt for a dedicated vegetable brush (for corn or mushrooms) like Dona and kimhw recommend.
  • Skip the specialty brushes: Miznic uses a toothbrush, "usually picked up for about 99 cents."


  • Pegreen suggests the microwave method: “Cut a small slice off the stem end of un-husked ear of corn. Put a few ears in microwave on high for 30 seconds, the husk and silk should come off more easily. Then cook corn as desired.”

Tell us: What are your tricks for removing corn silk?

Photos by Eric Moran 

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  • Barbara Miller Parks
    Barbara Miller Parks
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I like esoteric facts about vegetables and think ambling through a farmers market is a great way to start the day. My first cookbook, available now, is called Cooking with Scraps.


Barbara M. April 15, 2018
My first time doing corn... My husband left for work at 6:00 in the morning. I got up cleaned corn, put on to boil on high, boiled on high all day. When water got low I just added more water. When Jerry started to eat it he nearly chocked. I indignantly said " it has to be done, I cooked it all day". In my defense I was only 19 years old. That was 46 years ago but he never let me forget it. LoL
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Lindsay-Jean H. April 15, 2018
Oh my gosh I love this story! Thanks for sharing Barbara!
James July 26, 2015
I prefer to soak all the corn syill intact in the husks in a large pot. Make sure to cover them all in water. If they float then use a plate that will fit inside pot to weigh them down. Ill preheat my barbq and when its go time, i put the corn on the hot grill. They steam inside their husk and pretty quick. If it burns on the outside.. Dont worry! Just roll them over. When they are tender to the touch, i remove them to a plate. There they wait to be buttered.
Clou July 25, 2015
Best ever eaten on a hot summer night in Tehran -- husk it, put it directly on red hot coals, turn to char all sides, dip in bucket of salty water to clean off ashes. Enjoy!
Marla H. July 26, 2015
I was just remembering being in Tehran in 1967, and eating corn exactly that way! I've never forgotten it!
mellon August 20, 2014
Take an ear of corn with husk on and put in micro for 4 minutes(30 sec longer if cold). Take a sharp knife and hammer and cut thru the end and then pick up the hot corn at the tip and the cooked perfect corn will slide out and silk will remain in the husk.
djpgriffin August 19, 2014
My ex did similarly. Do you "Moo" as she did?
Charles C. August 19, 2014
I've enjoyed eating new corn out in the field right off the stalk.
b T. August 18, 2014
Take a dry paper towel and rub the shucked corn with the paper towel, the silks come off very easy and quick.
Suzanne W. August 13, 2014
Best way to cook 4 ears of fresh corn.....husk it, take of silk under the cold water of your faucet and put in zip-lock with 4 ice cubes..nuke for 5 minutes..let sit in zip-lock until ready to serve...yummy!
[email protected] August 13, 2014
Place ear of wet shucked corn on a piece of waxed paper. Sprinkle with coarse salt. Microwave for two minutes per ear (up to four at a time). It comes out utterly perfect and will stay piping hot in the wax paper and won't get soggy.
[email protected] August 13, 2014
To comment below: I should have added roll up in wax paper wan twist ends closed. Sorry for any confusion!
Charles C. August 12, 2014
Throw it in the microwave husk and all. Nuke seven minutes. Remove husk, don't mess with silks, eat and floss at the same time.
djpgriffin August 11, 2014
This is how you do it: You grab the stalk end in your hand firmly. THEN, you grab the silk end, with several leavesw as well as as much of the silk as you can, and rip both off as vigorously as possible. Continue doing it until you have all of the leaves and as much as the silk as possible scattered around the barbeque pit. Then, call the wife and have her pick off the silk as is left. Thats how you "clean" corn. Any questions?
Travis August 10, 2014
Jim Chambers said it right. Cook corn with husk on in microwave , high 4 minutes per ear. I cook two at a time 4minutes , then roll them over and cook another 4 minutes. Remove them, they will be hot so use cloth gloves. Cut off the stem end at a distance where you expose the corn kernels. then you can squeeze from the top and all comes out smoothly ready to eat. If you can't squeeze it out pull off the husk and all is clean.
cozycall August 4, 2014
I'm with you I have tried every new fangled, or whatever is in fashion, method to cook corn nothing works or tastes better than boiling.
Judith August 4, 2014
Where did I mention boiling? I said I used to drop it in hot water, husk on - I never said boil! In fact, the last time I boiled corn my youngest was still a toddler (she's 50 now) but then I learned the other method, which was to just bring the water to boiling, turn off the heat, put the corn in husk and all, and cover. Boiling takes all the flavor out of it. Then along came the microwave - yay!
CARMEN H. July 29, 2014
move quickly over the fire to singe the silk
jim C. July 28, 2014
Cook corn in microwave, cut bottom of corn shuck and all to the thickest part, take a rag/glove grasp top of shuck and shake hard, corn will slide out bottom and silkless
enthous July 27, 2014
After shucking and pulling the majority of silk off in the usual way, I rub each ear vigorously with a terry cloth dish towel. Works pretty well, but I'm going to try Vlad's rubber band trick next time.
Charles C. July 26, 2014
I nuke my corn with the husk on. When i peel the husk back, most of the corn silks go with it. The rest can be easily removed or just eaten with the corn. Then the husk can be gathered together to make a handle.
Judith July 23, 2014
I completely cook my unhusked corn in the microwave. The flavor and sweetness of the corn are much better than when I used to drop it in hot water, either husked or not husked. Anyway - I wrap the entire ear unhusked ear of corn in a double thickness of sopping wet paper towels and zap for 2 to 3 minutes depending on how thick the corn is. If I'm cooking two ears, I zap for 3-4 minutes. I never do more than two at a time but even if I have ten ears of corn to cook it doesn't matter - the cooked ones stay hot until all of them are done if I put them in a 2-inch deep baking pan or a deep bowel and cover with a thick towel. Then, when they're all done, I just husk and serve. The silk, of course, comes right off. Caveat - when you husk the microwaved corn, protect your hands as the corn is pretty darned hot!
Stix July 22, 2014
PS do not thaw the corn when you are removing the husk and the silky hair - it comes off in one clean grab.
Stix July 22, 2014
Peel back the ears off the corn down to just above the hair. Freeze the corn - it keeps well and stays fresh . Then when you are going to cook it - peel the husk and the silk hair away in one nice clean grab . All done.
Judith July 28, 2014
I really don't like the taste of corn frozen on the cob whether or not it's been blanched before freezing. To me, it tastes more like the cob than the kernels.
Stix July 28, 2014
I will need to remember that when you are over to the house to eat - we might need to put your taste senses to the test. Do you butter your corn or Salt your corn , and the cobb that is ruffage - fiber for the diet.
Judith July 28, 2014
I wouldn't worry about it if I'm ever at your house to eat. I'm not a rude guest so I wouldn't call you on it if you served me corn on the cob that had been frozen; I'd just eat it with a bit of butter and very little salt. Also, I wouldn't ever be a rude hostess and invite someone to my house for a meal just to test their sense of taste because I didn't believe them. That would, in effect, be calling a person a liar and that is extremely rude. BTW - Here's something for you to ponder. I find all fresh apples sour but do not find fresh lemons sour. There's a very logical reason for that. Can you figure it out?
Stix July 28, 2014
I would not consider it rude to test someones taste - as long as I told them first, after all a friend would understand a little fun. As for calling someone a liar - people taste psychologically as much as they taste with their senses power of suggestion has a big influence, whether that comes in the price and label for a bottle of wine or suggesting the milk tastes a bit sour . As for the sour apples and sweet lemons - and I would not have the faintest idea why someone would , for me it depends on the apple, and also on the lemon as to how sweet or how sour either of them taste. Every one tastes different, and has their preference. whether it is a real difference or perceived.
Judith July 28, 2014
But you add addressed your comment to me and I'm not a friend. There's a difference in giving someone a taste test for fun (like which is the expensive whisky and which is the cheap stuff, which is Pepsi and which is Coke) and calling someone a liar which, IMO, you did without even knowing me. And, in case it ever comes up again, learn something about why I - and most likely a lot of other people - find all fresh apples sour and but not fresh lemons. The acid that causes the sourness in apples is malic acid and that is the type of acid that manufacturers of sour candy us to make the candy sour. It is much more acidic than the citric acid found in lemons. In fact, slices of fresh apple can be used as a face peel that works much better than do slices of lemon or any fruit that contains citric acid. So if you decide to try the apple (and most pears, BTW), be careful - it can actually burn if you leave it on too long. Anyway - apparently, the number and distribution of my taste buds makes me much more sensitive to malic acid than citric acid.
Stix July 29, 2014
Judith - I am sorry I made you feel like I was calling you a liar - that is not what I was doing at all. Taste like color is unique to people - everyone has a different perception you feel Microwaving keeps the flavor , some feel it does not. There is no right way or wrong way of how you cook it - so long as you like it that way. since you made your comment how you liked your corn and instructed someone else not to boil in water , I was merely pointing out to you that some things are perceived whether by individual differences or psychological differences - it is a preference. Again I am sorry you felt offended and I did not mean any insinuations.
Trish H. August 5, 2016
Wow, quite a battle that really didn't need to be put on blast for everyone to read!