How to Make Corn Cob Jelly


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.

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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!

See this recipe at Farm Bell Recipes and save it to your recipe box.

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  1. Michelle says:

    What a cool idea! I’m definitely trying this – thanks, Suzanne! πŸ˜€

  2. Ashlee says:

    This is exactly why I LOVE your blog! I would have never in million years thought of using corn cobs to make jelly. I can’t wait to try it!

  3. robyn says:

    looks great. my only thing don’t ever give your dog corncobs because they can swallow it whole and will need surgery to remove from intestines. I am going to try the jelly. thanks so much for sharing.

  4. stacy says:

    Don’t forget that in the good old days corncobs had a special use in the outhouse!! Thank goodness for toilet paper!!

  5. Sandi says:

    This is super cool. I love corn, but I’ve never heard of this.. I am going to have to try it!

  6. Johanna says:

    Oh, please do not suggest that people give corn cobs to their dogs! Perhaps a large dog can avoid it, but dogs that gulp their food can end up with nasty intestinal blockages from eating too large a piece of cob, and that means surgery.

    Give the cobs to the chickens, or maybe the larger animals. Please not the dogs!

  7. lisa b says:

    how interesting ! My corn has already died back but next year i am doing a big will def try it

  8. CindyP says:

    That turned out wonderful! I am finding so many things you can make into jelly on this site! Steep anything in water and jelly it…dandelions, corn cobs, flowers, herbs. Waste not, want not — definitely a way of living I am loving!

  9. RockWhisperer says:

    I’ve made corncob jelly before, years ago. I think it tastes like corn syrup. In fact, you could probably use it in recipes calling for corn syrup. I never used pectin, just the corncobs boiled in water, sugar, and a long cooking time. If you use red corncobs the jelly will be pink.

    Another common old use for corncobs is to cut them in 2″ lengths and use them as corks for jugs of homemade wine or moonshine. Cut them in small pieces and thread them on string with popcorn in between as a decoration for the Christmas tree. I’ve also seen dolls made out of corncobs. Mom and Dad used to throw fresh corncobs to the pigs. I’ve seen corncobs in the outhouse before but wow, you’d have to be pretty stalwart to use one! Not me!

  10. B. Ruth says:

    See all that “goody” left on the corn cobs…the germ…so to speak..
    When we cut the corn off the cob..we then turn over our knife blade and scrape the germ or heart out,(my Mother said tha was the “health” of the corn)and it makes the corn creamier…so there is rarely a bite left for the birds but they love to peck it anyways…sometimes I leave a few kernals on the end to give the cat a cob or two he loves it! I’ve never made corn cob jelly but my mother did…
    Darts were made by poking chicken/duck feathers in the end of the cob..and tossing at a target…usually a circle on the ground…
    My Father said the dart was one of the few homemade farm toys he had to play with…when the kids had a chance to play, as they worked all the time…LOL

  11. Kris7 says:

    What great ideas! I loved your homemade Christmas last year and gave many of those projects for gifts. Adore your website!

  12. skippymom says:

    I use them for soup stock – so good! And free!

  13. Melissa says:

    I have never heard of this. I am printing this recip off to try. We used corn cobs in homeschooling to make dolls (not corn husk dolls). Laura Ingalls in Little House in the Big Woods only has a corn cob doll to play with. So, we made the dolls as an extension of the book. We dried out the cobs, drew faces on them, used the silks for hair and wrapped them up in bundles of scrap fabrics. Cute!

  14. Miss Becky says:

    well, learn something new every day. I have never heard of doing anything with corn cobs other than throwing them to the pigs. that’s what we used to do when I was growing up. man, did those pigs love those corn cobs. the jelly is beautiful Suzanne. simply gorgeous, and I bet it is most delicious too! :yes:

  15. Kim from Milwaukee says:

    Suzanne, thank you for another way to reuse and recycle. Corncobs are hard to compost when left whole, and they are a pain to chop up for the pile, so using them up in other ways is much more efficient.

    I love your blog…it’s one of the first posts I read every day. Keep up the good work!

  16. Val Trani says:

    I love making different kind of jellies and cannot wait to try this one! Bet it would be good on a morning w/a bit of frost in the air! :cowsleep:

  17. Cheryl LeMay says:

    I seen them cut into rectangles,stained and varnished to be used as pendants for necklaces.

  18. Karen Anne says:

    Why am I thinking that these jelly recipes that taste like honey taste that way because they’re basically sugar and pectin?

  19. Andrea the Kitchen Witch says:

    How interesting and cool! I’ve never ever heard of this – however I want to try it πŸ™‚ Its beautiful, I love the light golden color, it even looks like honey! Thanks for posting this cool long lost recipe. I found your blog from Michelle at Girl gone Granola, I’m so glad she shared the link πŸ™‚

  20. becky says:

    I am going to try this! I have had Jalapeno jelly which is delicious – this might be good too.

  21. LaurenD says:

    ohhh gotta try this!! πŸ™‚

  22. becky3086 says:

    I have made corn cob jelly, it is a great way to get the most out of your corn.

  23. princessvanessa says:

    I think about years and years ago how mom and my paternal grandma would make jelly and seal it with paraffin. Nowadays we know better, but I can sure picture the pantry shelf with wax topped jelly jars. In fact, those glass jelly jars did not even have threads on the outside lip; they were like thick-walled juice glasses. Maybe they actually were juice glasses?
    I do remember grandma and mom warning me over and over about what could be preserved with a hot water bath and what needed pressure canning. In the past, I even canned the salmon than my ex-husband and I used to catch.

  24. Kelly says:

    I just made this and decided to not strain it, when i give it as gifts i might strain it just because all the “protein” rose to the top so it looks kinda cloudy on top, but thats where all the corn bits ans whatnot are.

    Its delicious! my daughter brought a pb and CCj to school for lunch today

  25. Tricia says:

    I made this yesterday…Strained it though. Does it take a while to congeal once you’ve canned it, because mine still is really a syrupy consistensy..Opened a small jar and tastes great, just curious about the gel time.

  26. Tricia says:

    Hmmmmm…Okay, πŸ˜• I dont know what I could of done wrong..Either way, I can still use it. If it gels, then we have Jelly if not then we have tastes great anyhow πŸ˜€

  27. Ramona Slocum says:

    I’ve made corn cob jelly with field corn cobs too. It tastes great. I made several small jars for Christmas gifts one year. It went over good.

  28. mom2girls says:

    last night a farmer from our church brought us a sack of six dozen corn.

    we’ve lived in the country for four years and i love being the recipient of free farm fresh produce! my enthusiasm for the task of husking, boiling, stripping and freezing a bounty of those delicious yellow gems was only tempered by the fact that i have a highly active three year old and a beautiful baby girl that is a marathon nurser and gives me scant snippets of day to actually indulge in any of my culinary fancies (although i must say, many a breastfeeding minutes have been past surfing on CITR and planning future baking, canning, and cooking adventures)

    i woke up this morning, rising to the task….i could do this, i could do this….and if i did it, i would reward myself by making a batch of this wonderful looking jelly. and so i did. i nursed, i husked. i did celebration dances with my potty training preschooler, i boiled. i went to the store to stock up on canning goods, i stripped cobs and piled kernels into freezer bags. i even made my husband a pot roast dinner, somewhere in there.

    and then i got the three year old off to bed. i got my baby girl nursed to sleep. i got all my canning supplies sterilized and ingredients measured. i added the water to the cobs and i boiled.

    for half an hour, not a minute more. with the lid off, as specified. and when i poured the corn liquid into a expectant four cup pyrex measure, i was COMPLETELY AND UTTERLY DASHED OF ALL HOPE…..

    a scant 2/3 cups of liquid! the very tired 9 PM me could not overrule the desires of the 9 AM me this morning and if i hadn’t thrown all the other cobs in the compost already…and i wasn’t so busy filling my poor masons jars that were left at the alter with my tears, i might be willing to try again as the night ticks away and the baby’s next feeding nears….but maybe this nice farmer will give me another dozen cobs…..

    i know i measured the water right and i took boiled hard to mean at the highest setting on my element. should i have turned it down? i guess maybe i should have watched to see how the liquid evaporated…..or any other advice if i am brave enough to try again?

    • Suzanne McMinn says:

      mom2girls! I am so in awe of your day! I did boil hard, but my boil hard might be different from yours, depending on stovetops. I think you just learned that yours boils harder! I am so sorry! You need more liquid. You should either start with more liquid, or boil it shorter (or not so hard). I am so sorry!!!! I feel terrible for you. Don’t give up! (It’s good stuff!)

  29. mom2girls says:

    i won’t….nothing is wasted if you have learned something in the process!

    and thank you for all the wonderful baking and cooking and canning ideas you share with us daily. my mom and i both follow this site quite closely and wish you would put out a cookbook:)

  30. Dianna says:

    Love your site very interesting and educational even for grandma’s

  31. Sheila says:

    So if you get 3 1/2 cups of liquid do you use 3 1/2 cups of sugar? (math and measurements were never my strong point LOL).

  32. Sheila says:

    Ty (btw sorry for all the stupid questions) πŸ˜•

  33. Angie says:

    If you didn’t get 3 1/2 cup corn cob water do you add regular water to equal that amount?

  34. paulapurls says:

    :sheep: i made the corncob jelly a few days ago…it is yummy….second batch today…plus 24 cups of corn for the freezer :sun: thanks for sharing all that you do :snuggle:

  35. paulapurls says:

    i would like to send you a picture but cant figure out how to get it into this comment area …help!!!

  36. paulapurls says:

    hi,when i go to the farmbell recipees there is only a black box where the upload option is shown in the directions πŸ˜₯ i’ll check back soon

  37. paulapurls says:

    i think i figured it out !!!!

  38. A. Friend says:

    Yesterday’s corn cob jelly didn’t set up and I followed the instructions exactly. I’ll give it a little more time as one jar is semi-set, but if it doesn’t set is there any way to fix it?

  39. Sandie says:

    I made the corn cob jelly today and followed the directions perfectly, but my jelly looks like water. I have to say, it seemed to be setting up pretty quickly after I poured them into the jars, sealed them , then I dropped then in the “bath”, let them boil in there for 10 mins. pulled them out and set them upside down to set. I cam home 2 hours later and they are like water. What did I do wrong ? I feel like if I had skipped the “bath” they would have set up.

  40. Pete says:

    Sandie – I’m no expert on this by any means! But will opine anyway, of course.

    It sometimes takes 2 weeks for jelly to set up. Had read that many times, and in my experience, it seems to apply especially to the more delicate jellies. During that time, they should NOT be tilted and such. In other words, move them around as little as possible.

    No turning upside down! That can cause several problems.

    We have no idea here why sometimes everything works perfectly and sometimes it does not. Some jars just never set up, even when others in the same batch do. So, we sometimes enjoy syrup instead of jelly or jam!

  41. Bratt says:

    I was asked to teach 2 of my neighbors to can & decided to show them how to can corn off the cob. We canned 20 pints & then saw your recipe. Had never heard of it, but decided to try it. Made a single batch. It turned out SO Wonderful! We then made 2 more batches. My share of the bottles will make great Christmas gifts with my homemade cracked wheat bread. Just wanted to Thank You for the wonderful recipe!

  42. Deb says:

    I made Corn Cob Jelly. It looks beautiful and tastes wonderful BUT it didn’t set up. Is there something I can do?

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