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Can You Eat the Cob of Corn?

Many people across different cultures love corn on the cob. It is one of the top 10 most eaten foods on the fourth of July which is America’s Independence Day. Although they can be eaten raw, ears of corn are usually prepared or cooked by steaming or boiling, roasting, grilling, or frying. According to Wikipedia, the term “corn on the cob” is the culinary term used to refer to a cooked ear of freshly picked maize from a cultivar of sweet corn, sweet corn being the most common variety of maize eaten directly off the cob. 

For corn lovers like me, it seems like a waste to ditch the cob after biting the kernels off, and I often wonder, “can corn cob be prepared in a way that it would be edible, or compost the best bet? 

If you’re here- reading this, I won’t be wrong to guess that you want to know if you can eat the cob of corn or if it is safe to eat the cob of corn. Here, you will get to know if you can eat the cob of corn and if not, what you can do with those cobs.

Can You Eat the Cob of Corn?

The edibility of corn cobs is dependent on the maturity of the corn. While you can eat the cobs of the tiny stir-fry corn, also called baby corn (young ears) because they are still young and tender, you cannot eat the cob of mature corn. It is so because, as the plant matures, the cob gets tougher until only the kernels are edible.

Not to worry, there are several other ways you can put corn cobs into use. Read some of the uses of corn cobs below.

Uses of Corn Cobs

Although you cannot eat the cob of corn (mature corn), they still have plenty of applications both at home and industrially. Here are some of those uses:

  1. Corn cobs absorb moisture and provide a compliant surface, hence, they are used as bedding for animals. For example; in many homes, corn cobs are ground up and washed, then re-dried again to make cat litter.
  2. You can boil corn cobs with some spices and make corn stock out of them. Alternatively, you can add them to other summertime vegetables to make vegetable stock.
  3. Prepare corn cob jelly.
  4. Use cobs as pot scrubbers or household cleaning materials.

Are Corn Cobs Digestible?

No, corn cobs are not digestible. They are composed of cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin (primary substances which make up the cell walls of plants), which are largely indigestible.

What Happens If You Eat Corn Cob?

If a person eats a whole corn cob (which seems quite impossible anyway), it would get stuck and block the airway, choking the person to death. On the other hand, if you swallow small pieces of a corn cob without chewing them, they can injure the digestive tract and may lead to intestinal obstruction.

However, if a person manages to chew pieces of corn cob for as long as it would take to turn to paste, it would just pass through the digestive tract like any other fibrous food, providing bulk but little nutrients.

Can Dogs Eat Corn Cobs?

No, it is not advised that you let your dog eat corn cob. While corn cobs do not seem particularly dangerous, they can overwhelm your dog’s digestive tract and cause intestinal obstruction when ingested in large amounts. That is, a large piece of corn cob canblock your dog’s intestines and cause dehydration.

Some common signs of intestinal obstruction in dogs include recurrent vomiting accompanied by strong abdominal contractions, dehydration, loss of appetite, constipation, panic, anxiety, weakness, lethargy, and obvious signs of pain or discomfort. If you notice any of these signs after your dog has mistakenly eaten corn cob, see your veterinarian immediately.

What to Do with Old Corn on The Cob. What Can They Be Used For?

  1. Salads: You can eat old corn on the cob in salads. Simply remove the kernels and toss them on a fresh salad. Alternatively, you can mix the kernels with a small amount of garlic, diced tomato, pepper, salt, and some pumpkin seed oil to make an awesome summer salad.
  2. Corn chowder: You are out of fresh sweet corn? Don’t worry. You can still enjoy your creamy, delicious summer corn chowder using old corn on the cob. It tastes just as great!
  3. Omelet: Throw in some kernels of your old corn on the cob to add color and crunchiness to your omelet.
  4. Cornbread: What’s cornbread without cornmeal? And why would your old corn on the cob remain unused when you can make them into cornmeal for a savory loaf of cornbread?
  5. Corn fritters.

Can You Eat Out of Date Corn on The Cob?

Yes, you can eat corn on the cob that is past its best-by date, provided it has not gone bad or shown any sign of spoilage. Raw corn on the cob can last anywhere from one to three days if stored correctly, however, there are a few techniques you can employ to extend the shelf life.

Read also: Why Can’t You Eat Popcorn with Braces?

How To Extend The Shelf Life Of Corn On The Cob

Although it is best to eat corn within 24 hours of purchasing or harvesting because of its short freshness period, in case you can’t eat it within that time frame, you can extend its shelf life in the following ways.

  1. Store raw corn on the cob with the husks still intact as this will allow the corn to last longer. However, if you have already removed the husks, you can wrap it in plastic wrap or foil to ensure that the corn on the cob will last just as long as it would with the husks on.
  2. To store cooked corn on the cob, keep in an airtight bag and store it in the refrigerator. 
  3. You can also freeze your corn on the cob or remove the kernels from the cob and freeze.

Read also: Is Corned Beef Good for Diabetics?

How to Tell If My Corn on The Cob Has Gone Bad

You can tell if the corn on the cob you purchased (or harvested from your farm) has gone bad by observing the husks and silks of the corn. Normally, the husk should be green, not brown, and the silks should be pale yellow. Any other color could indicate spoilage 

You can also tell if your corn on the cob is going bad by looking at the tip. A dark tip is an indication that the corn is old, and mold growth will often begin to form on a moist tip. You should discard the corn if you notice any mold growth on the tip or any other part of the corn on the cob. Also, you shouldn’t eat the shriveled kernel, it shows that the corn is past its prime. Any odd taste or flavor, as well as the sliminess of the kernels, indicate spoilage. 

Although you can eat the cob of corn when it is still immature (baby corn), it is unnecessary to eat the cob of mature corn as all the nutrients you need can be gotten by eating the kernels alone. If you are like me and you feel the cobs shouldn’t go to waste, you can put the cobs into good use as in any of the ways I described in this article.