Corn cobs | PHOTO BY DAVID HAMMOND
Updated: March 7, 2014 1:23PM
Every year about this time, picked-clean corncobs pile up after dinner.
Such gnawed cobs appear to be beyond their useful purpose. They’re hard to compost because they never seem to break down completely, which would allow them to be spread evenly over the spring garden. Once upon a time, used corncobs just ended up in the garbage.
But then we discovered food value in those stripped ears.
Just as animal bones form the basis for good meat stock, so corncobs provide backbone and heft to vegetable stock. When prepared much like beef or chicken bones in traditional stock, simmered corncobs furnish broth with slightly starchy texture and delicate flavor.
Paul Fehribach of Big Jones (5747 N. Clark) told us, “Charred corn broth is my favorite. I like to keep it simple, with corncobs, onion, fresh chilies, and maybe carrot.”
(As it’s still rather warm outside, warming up a stock pot may not appeal. So just throw your used corncobs into the freezer and make stock when the weather turns cool.)
Using corncobs for stock is a traditional practice in the South, and this is one of those recipes where exact measurements are not required. The resulting broth can be used in a soup, with or without meat, or as the base for a sauce. Because it’s a thickener, it can also be used in traditional corn cob jelly. Here’s how to make the broth:
1. Add kernel-free corncobs to a pot, barely cover with cold water
2. Drop in some salt, peppercorns and herbs like thyme or parsley
3. Bring to a boil and then simmer for about an hour
— David Hammond