Like any good American, I love corn in all its forms, but sweet corn-on-the-cob is in a league of its own: crunchy, nostalgic, and slippery with butter. But nothing in life is truly perfect. Those damn corn silks, the thin hairs that snake and snag between the kernels, slow down what would otherwise be a painless shucking process. Surely, there’s some secret to removing them, if I can only uncover it.
The internet abounds with suggestions. Shelf liners. Stiff-bristled brushes. This eyebrow-raising maneuver Rachel Ray performs with a rubber band—whoa, take it easy, Rache!
The common thread—sorry for the corny joke—is a grippy surface that the hairs will cling to. Ruffage author and vegetable expert Abra Berens tells me she sometimes wears latex gloves to shuck corn for this purpose. But those methods require me to have tools like shelf liners or rubber gloves handy. What if I’m just a girl, standing in front of a pile of corn, asking it to not be covered in so many annoying strings? (How many strings, you ask? One for every kernel of corn on the cob, according to Iowa Corn.)
My favorite answer came from the folks at Sunshine Sweet Corn Farmers Of Florida, who suggested I simply grill corn on the cob instead of boiling it: “If you grill corn, the silks get burned off. Shuck it, throw it on the grill. Brush it with butter and let it roast,” a spokesperson tells The Takeout.
Genius. Not only does grilling the corn as-is mean I don’t have to be so exacting about the silks, but I love the added bit of char flavor. So if you’re as frustrated as I am by corn silks, consider it just another reason to light up the grill and make elotes.