Our New Go-To Vegetable Broth Basically Makes Itself

June  6, 2018

We are told, again and again: Don’t throw that out. Doesn’t matter what that is—it could become soup. A chicken bone. An onion peel. A cheese rind. Any bits and bobs that you’ve shoved to the side of your plate or cutting board. Just add water and they’ll grow into something else, like a melon, or a chia pet.

I never thought to do this with corn cobs.

I’ve read about corn milk and, for a while, assumed this was resourceful enough. After stripping the kernels, you use your knife to scrape along the naked cob. A milky liquid seeps out, like maple from a tree, especially handy if you’re making creamed corn. Which I never do.

Photo by James Ransom

But I love making corn pasta. This combination embraces two of my favorite things: Carbs on carbs. And summer. All the better if they’re together.

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A few weeks ago, I was developing a recipe for elote rigatoni—basically, deconstructed Mexican street corn, plus noodles—and ended up with a mountain of cobs. The thing with recipe development is, you ask yourself so many What if?s that, eventually, it’s hard to tell where one question starts and another begins. One minute you’re thinking about pasta shapes. The next, you’re wondering: What if I boiled these?

So instead of throwing the cobs in the trash, I threw them in a pot, covered with water, and let simmer while I worked. I paid it absolutely zero attention, which is usually just right for broths, and just how I recommend replicating this not-recipe. When the liquid was yellow and reduced, I added some salt and took a slurp.

It tasted more like corn than corn.

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Top Comment:
“My mom used to cook corn in water and we always re-used that water to make a tasty soup by just adding some peeled cucumbers, carrots and fish balls - Nostalgia”
— juwu_eats

Hence my resolution: To never again be without it. Make a batch any time you have leftover cobs and store in the freezer, either in containers or in ice cube trays. This way, summer can stay with you all year long.

Here are some ways to put it to good use. Use as much corn broth as you would any other type:


Have you made corn broth before? How did you use it? Let us know in the comments!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

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Emma was the food editor at Food52. She created the award-winning column, Big Little Recipes, and turned it into a cookbook in 2021. These days, she's a senior editor at Bon Appétit, leading digital cooking coverage. Say hello on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.


Wendy M. May 18, 2019
My hens will be sad, corn cobs are about their favorite treat. Guess I'll have to buy them their own...
juwu_eats June 7, 2018
My mom used to cook corn in water and we always re-used that water to make a tasty soup by just adding some peeled cucumbers, carrots and fish balls - Nostalgia
Noreen F. June 6, 2018
I've made corn broth and used it to amp up the flavor in corn chowder or grits (polenta by another name).