Cooking Tips

For Maximum Flavor, Milk Your Corn Cobs

Those stripped cobs are treasure, not trash.

Published Aug. 12, 2021.

What do you do with corn cobs after you’ve cut off the kernels for a salad or risotto? If you compost them or throw them in the trash, you’re getting rid of one of the best parts: the corn “milk.”

Corn “milk” is the term for the sweet pulp and juices that are left behind when kernels are stripped from the cob. Think of it as the vegetable’s built-in nondairy milk—but it’s much more flavorful than anything that comes from an almond. (You’re not going to want to stir corn milk into your coffee, but you are going to want to incorporate it into your corn chowder and corn pudding.)

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In addition to bursting with fresh flavor, this liquid gold contains naturally occurring starch. When heated and thickened to a sauce-like consistency, it gives our Corn Risotto exceptionally silky body.

The next time you’re removing corn kernels, make sure to milk your cobs. Here’s how to do it:

Hold the stripped corn cob over a bowl or plate and firmly scrape up and down all sides of the cob with the back of a butter knife. This will yield about 1 tablespoon of corn milk per ear.

milking corn cob
That corn milk is liquid gold.

And while you’re at it, save those corn cobs, too! Those stripped cobs are a treasure, not trash. 

Briefly simmering stripped corn cobs produces a surprisingly flavorful stock that can enrich polenta, cornbread, and soups such as our Corn Chowder. (The broth also freezes well.) To make corn cob broth, cut eight corn cobs into quarters. Place them in a large saucepan with 8 cups of water, bring it to a simmer, and cook for 15 minutes. Strain the liquid through a fine-mesh strainer. You should have about 7½ cups of broth.

Top photo credit: Philipp Weindich / EyeEm, Getty Images

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