Corn cob jelly is a perfect example of the “waste not, want not” spirit of our ancestors who knew how to use everything, and I mean everything. Most of us are accustomed to tossing corn cobs in the trash or the compost pile, but there are actually many, many ways to utilize them. Corn cob jelly is one of the tastiest. Here’s a short list of other ideas.
10 Ways to Use Corn Cobs:
1. Give it to the animals. Chickens and donkeys love to peck and chew every bit of sweetness out of a cob.
2. Make a corn cob doll.
3. Make a corn cob pipe. (If you’re handy and into that.)
4. Stick a nail or hook in one end of the cob. Slather cob with peanut butter and seeds–tie on a tree branch as a bird feeder.
5. Boil down for vegetable soup stock. (Similar to the method I outline below for making corn cob jelly–use the corn liquid as soup stock instead.)
6. Potpourri–slice cobs in thin pieces, dry, then sprinkle with scented oil. Makes a very pretty addition to a potpourri bowl!
7. Dry for firestarters.
8. In the old days, dried, they were used as pot scrubbers.
9. Poke a long nail in each end of a dried cob and use as a paint roller to make a neat pattern. (Also can use corn cobs held upright as a brush, or cut in half to use the even, cut edge to stamp patterns.)
10. Corn cob wine!
And so on. (Can you add to the list?) You should never throw a corn cob away again!
Back to corn cob jelly. In Kerrie’s post about dandelion jelly on Farm Bell Recipes the other day, corn cob jelly was mentioned in the comments. It’s still corn time, so I’ve been going through two to three dozen ears of corn a week putting up corn for the winter. I hadn’t thought about corn cob jelly! I got a hankering to try it right away.
Corn cob jelly is an old-fashioned idea and you can find recipes by the handfuls all over the internet. Even when printed at reputable websites, most of these recipes have not been updated to today’s food safety standards. Yes, we know our grandmas and great-grandmas ladled jelly into the jars and simply turned them upside down to seal them. Please don’t do that. We understand much more about food safety today. Preserving food in jars by either boiling water bath or steam pressure canning are the only two proven and recommended methods to destroy yeast, molds, bacteria, and enzymes and keep foods safe.
You can use any kind of corn in this recipe. Traditionally, (red) field corn was often used. The corn you plan to serve for supper will also make a delicious jelly, so use whatever you have on hand. Many recipes I saw recommend the addition of food coloring, either red or yellow, one to two drops. I have no idea why as the jelly turns out beautifully without it and it’s an unnecessary additive. I didn’t use food coloring–the lovely, clear, light amber of the jelly in my photos is the natural color.
After examining numerous corn cob jelly recipes, I created my own. This recipe sets up really well and tastes wonderful.
Don’t know how to can in a boiling water bath? See my tutorial here.
How to make Corn Cob Jelly:
12 large ears of corn
2 quarts water
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 package powdered pectin
Cook corn; cut kernels from cobs and store for another use. Measure 2 quarts water into a large pot; add corn cobs.
Bring to a boil; boil hard for 30 minutes. (If you had the pot covered when you brought it to a boil, take the lid off now. Boil it down uncovered for a more concentrated result.) Turn off heat and remove cobs. Strain corn liquid through cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer–if desired. (I prefer to leave the corn bits in there! I didn’t strain it. Up to you!)
Measure remaining corn liquid. I get a little over 3 1/2 cups corn liquid after it boils down. Return liquid to the large pot. Stir in lemon juice and pectin. (Add a dab of butter to prevent foaming.) Bring to a boil. Add sugar cup per cup to match the measure of your corn liquid. Stir to dissolve sugar. Bring pot to a rolling boil. Boil hard one minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Ladle hot corn cob jelly into hot jars. Adjust lids and bands. Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
Makes 5 half-pints.
What I read about this jelly, over and over, was that it tastes like honey. Well, here’s the crazy thing–IT DOES. It tastes just like honey. Odd. But delicious. I’m planning to make another batch soon, maybe a couple more batches. Think what a unique holiday gift it would be! Make lots!