How to shuck sweet corn–fast!–from an ole’ pro


little boy shucking corn

How to shuck sweet corn is a task that every Nebraska farm kid learns, and learns well.

When you’re a busy sort always looking to cut off a few minutes from menial tasks, learning how to perform something you do every year–like husk sweet corn!–a little quicker can be a boon. In those few minutes saved, who knows? You might be able to read a chapter or two of your current book, or practice a lick on your banjo. Boom, baby. A BETTER LIFE! This post was originally published in August 2014, and updated in August 2021.

We were expecting company a few evenings ago, and I was working on our dinner. Not wanting to add to the perpetual mealtime mess in the kitchen, I sent little Mack outside to shuck a bag of sweet corn that I had brought home from the farmer’s market a couple days before. It’s that time of year, you know, when cooking a meal for company is easy as this: I send Bryan out to the grill with brats, I cut up a good fresh melon, and boil a pot full of sweet corn that was just picked yesterday. I put out the soft butter, the salt and pepper mills, and some great mustard. Easy. Delicious. Perfect.

We buy special handmade brats from the guys at the Cordova Locker, who also happen to be our neighbors at farmer’s market. They make dozens of kinds of brats. I’m working my way through trying every variety. On this particular night, we had jalapeno and cheese brats, wasabi brats, and dijon honey brats. Yum.

Just a few minutes later, my husband Bryan (the “ole’ pro”), came into the kitchen, astonishment on his face.

“I can’t believe it!” he said, raking his hand through his hair. He was really shook up. Rattled. Flustered.

“What’s happened?” I asked, dropping the bottle of Great Value mustard that I was pulling out of the ‘fridge. “What’s wrong?” My mind, of course, was racing. Did little Mack fall into a hole that had just opened up in the earth? Did a mountain lion charge into the yard and grab one of the dogs? Or perhaps a flock of great blue herons swooped down and carried off the grill, meat and all? (Don’t snort–those great herons are big.)

Bryan shook his head, and after struggling with his emotions for several tense seconds, he finally found his voice. “Little Mack doesn’t know how to shuck sweet corn properly,” he said. He looked at me searchingly, as if he were looking at me for the very first time. Baffled, he blinked his eyes and shook his head in disbelief.

“And I thought,” he said, forming his words carefully, “that you were educating the children correctly.”

Feeling a bit defensive, and yet unaccountably relieved that all my panic-driven fantasies had not actually happened, in bewilderment I followed my husband outside, to see just what the “proper way to shuck sweet corn” was. And what I had failed so miserably to teach the kids. (Bother!)

Most farm families that I know in our neck of the woods usually grow a little patch of sweet corn for themselves and for others, someplace on their acres, and we’ve been blessed more than once with a farmer friend who is not willing to let the extra ears that his family couldn’t use go to waste. Then it’s time to go into production and shuck sweet corn and put it into the freezer. It’s messy, fun, and a terrible sticky mess! Of course it goes so much faster if you know how to shuck the sweet corn properly.

My husband remembers when he was a kid, having a farmer friend drop off bushels of sweet corn, and his own dad teaching him how to shuck it in this perfectly easy, fast, proper way.

So, without further ado, here–according to my husband–is the fastest, easiest way to shuck sweet corn. (curtsy)

First, grab the cob with both hands, like this, bracing the end of the cob against your body, grabbing onto the shucks with both hands:

how to shuck

Next, pull the shucks and silks away from the cob in one quick pull, being very careful not to gouge a hole in your belly. (Italicized words my warning entirely.)


Now you’ve done it! Continue to pull the shucks and silks all the way off the end of the cob.


Finally, snap off the end, and the shucks and nearly all the silks (the most troublesome part, in my opinion) will come with it. This whole process takes mere seconds.


“That is impressive,” said I. “Show me again.” And again. Looks fun. One more time. 🙂 Tom Sawyer has nothing on me.


“Sure, it’s easy for you, Dad, when you’ve got the brute strength in your hands that you do,” quipped Amalia, who walked past at just this moment. But little Mack proved that even a smaller, less brutishly-strong person can shuck corn this way, too.


“Are we done yet?”


Geez. What a cute little face. Don’t you agree?

“Done.” See how easy?


By the time the guys had the corn stripped, I had the water boiling on the stove, and it only took a quick rinse of the cobs to rid them of the last few bits of silk, and they were merrily boiling away. By the way, this fresh sweet corn doesn’t need more than 3 or 4 minutes of boiling before it’s perfectly ready to eat.


Have a great day, You, Gentle Reader o’mine. And thanks so much for stopping by my little corner of the interwebs.

If you enjoyed this content, could I ask you a favor: would you share it with somebody in your world who might also like it? THANK YOU and *hugs* and my eternal gratitude.


21 thoughts on “How to shuck sweet corn–fast!–from an ole’ pro

  1. Jillian

    I like to heat mine in the microwave whole for a few minutes. Everything comes off at once including the silk!! For large amounts you can do this in the oven. Of course I live in the Pacific Northwest so I’m not to worried about heating up the house with the oven either!! 😉

  2. Pete Kowpak

    My wife also found on the internet that after microwaving the cob, if you cut off the stalk end about 2 rows up the cob. you can literally hold the silk end and “shake” the ear out, silk and all.

  3. Alana(@RamblinGarden)

    We don’t try to grow corn – there is lots of good, local corn here and I would eat it every day if I could. Fortunately, my husband keeps my corn cravings under control. But, ah, your method. Years ago I attended a sleepaway camp in New Jersey for children of New York City, and local farmers would drop off those bushels of corn. And who do you think got to husk them? So, I had totally forgotten in all these years (uh, about 48 years?) how to do mass production husking, but it was the method we used. We cook our corn, one ear each for the two of us, in the “mike” and in the husk. But thank you for the memory. Gee, maybe this city gal better not visit your farmers market because the thought of dozens of kinds of brats has me sighing….(by the way, I am sorry, life got in the way and I suspect your borage will be unplanted until next year. It’s a long story.)

  4. Chef William Chaney

    So when we shuck corn, we save the silk for a special tea (it’s a Mexican cure for something) we save the husks to use when we make tomales. Then we freeze that corn to use in soups and stews in the winter. When we cook brats, or chicken etc. during corn season, we make an area on the grill for the corn, and we put it on the grill while it is still inside it’s natural wrapper. When it is cooked, we remove it from the grill, pull back the husks, which now become the handles for the corn. We then spread the corn with mayo or sour cream, sprinkle a little ground chili pepper on it, and perhaps sprinkle a little grated cheese on top of that. Sounds like we pretty much do it the same way as you do……

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      That really sounds delish, Chef. Now why did you go and do that?? Now I need to go buy some more sweet corn. 😉

  5. Monte Turner

    So…. let me get straight… you had grill going and you boiled sweet corn?? Soak it in salted water for about 30 minutes and put it on aforementioned grill and roast away!! Much better in this Texan’s opinion!!

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Thanks for that reminder, Monte! I don’t often think about grilling corn–but (forehead slap!) of course it’s so much better that way!!

  6. Mari

    I had no idea that corn cooked so fast! Here I have been boiling it for half an hour! Now I won’t spend the time doing that and have fresher corn besides! I guess old dogs CAN learn new tricks. Tee hee.

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Oh Mari, you’re not an old dog. The thing is, our sweet corn just keeps getting sweeter and sweeter, and the sweeter it gets, the less you have to cook it!

  7. Kay

    Fast forward to 2021 and cook your sweet corn in the Instant Pot for 3-4 mins. (1 cup water, trivet, corn, Go!) Perfect sweet corn without hauling a huge pot of water to the stove.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.