Corn Cob Jelly From The Cobs You Almost Wasted
Have you ever heard of corn cob jelly? You may only think of it as a forgotten something Ma Ingalls cooked up in The Little House On The Prairie, but think again!
Corn cob jelly is beautiful, surprising, and delightful. It is translucent and tastes very much like honey. It is amazing on biscuits and cornbread, and even if for some reason it fails to set up fully, it makes incredibly thick and wonderful syrup for pancakes and waffles.
In Ma Ingall’s day, cooks made jelly from the cobs of field corn used to feed livestock. The cobs on the old hybrids were bright red, and the jelly ended up a rosy pink color. If you like, you can add some red food coloring for that old-fashioned look, but I love the golden color when I make it with the cobs from sweet corn.
We “put up” corn every summer, so we have fresh frozen sweet corn to enjoy in the winter, and here’s how we do it. Maybe it’s a “Nebraska-ism” to call it that, but I wanted to try corn cob jelly for years when we were done putting up corn, and I finally tried it about three years ago! I will never waste all those precious corn cobs again!
Please refer to my post about making peach jam to prepare your workspace and the equipment you will need to make any type of jam or jelly. In that post, I list everything you need to be ready!
How To Turn 12 Corn Cobs Plus 2 Ingredients Into Yummy Corncob Jelly
After you have cut the corn off the cob, put twelve or more of the cobs in a tall stockpot and cover them with twelve cups of water. Boil the cobs for about twenty to thirty minutes. Any kernels of corn left on the cob will fall out as they cook, so don’t worry if they’re not scraped clean.
Now strain the water into a second stockpot to remove any wayward kernels or silk left on them. Measure out six cups of the “corn water” to make one batch of jelly and put it into a stockpot.
After freezing corn, I have LOTS of corncobs, so I usually discard the excess and use the first pot to make my jelly. Here’s how the corn water will look.
If you aren’t freezing corn, you may only accumulate a few cobs at a time, but you can pop them into a freezer bag until you have enough for a batch of jelly. In fact, I freeze some cobs when I’m doing corn and make jelly on another day, sometimes weeks or months later! By the end of putting up ten dozen ears of corn, I want to “put up” my feet!
Pectin is a type of starch that makes jellies “gel” into a semi-solid consistency you can spread on biscuits or bread. It occurs naturally in some fruits like apples, but there is none in corn cobs, so you need to add a commercially produced pectin product like Sure Jell. One 1.75-ounce package will work perfectly with six cups of liquid.
- 6 cups of "corn water"
- 6 cups granulated sugar, measured and set aside because you will add it all at once.
- One 1.75-ounce package of powdered pectin
- 2 tsp butter, optional, helps prevent foam on the jelly
- Boil 12 or more scraped corn cobs in 12 cups of water for 20 to thirty minutes
- Strain liquid, and reserve 6 cups of "corn water."
- Put corn water and pectin in a tall stockpot with pectin and optional butter.
- Bring mixture to a boil.
- Add sugar all at once and cook for an additional ten minutes or until it reaches such a full rolling boil that you cannot stir it down.
- Set a timer for one minute and cook, constantly stirring, then remove from heat.
- Ladle hot jelly into clean jars, and wipe the rim and threads with a clean, damp cloth.
- Put on two-pice lids and hand-tighten firmly.
- Use a canning jar lifter to place the jars in a boiling water bath for ten minutes. make sure the boiling water covers the jars by at least one inch.
- Carefully remove the jars with a canning jar lifter from the boiling water bath and set them on a rack or thickly folded towel to cool.
- Please do not touch the jars until they are cool.
- Check to ensure every jar has been sealed; if not, refrigerate the jelly and use it within three to four weeks.
You will also need granulated sugar. I know many of you are concerned about sugar, but I have experimented and researched corn cob jelly, and there seems to be some magic about equal parts of sugar to corn water to make it set. Jelly is a treat we eat in small amounts, so I don’t worry much about the sugar content.
I always add a small amount of butter, like a teaspoon or two, when I make any jelly to keep a foam from forming. You can also skim it off when ready to put it into jars.
Add the pectin and the butter, if you add any, to the corn water and cook it over medium heat until the pectin is dissolved, then bring the mixture to a boil.
Add the sugar all at once and boil the jelly for about ten minutes, or until the mixture comes to such a rolling boil, you cannot stir it down. Use a long spoon and be careful! The jelly is very hot! Turn down the heat if needed to keep it from scorching or boiling over.
Now set a timer for one minute and cook, constantly stirring, and then remove it from the heat.
Ladle the hot jelly into clean half-pint jars, wipe the rim and threads with a damp cloth, and put the two-part lid on each jar. Hand-tighten the lid securely on the jar and use a canning jar lifter to put the jars into a boiling water bath for ten minutes. Make sure the boiling water covers the jars by at least an inch.
Use the canning jar lifter to remove each jar from the boiling water and set them n a rack or a thickly folded towel to cool. The jars should not touch each other. Please do not touch the jars until they are cool. Check to make sure the jars have sealed.
If any jars do not seal, you can reprocess them. Wipe the rim again with a damp cloth, clicking for any nicks in the jar that might have kept it from sealing. Or, you can refrigerate the jelly and use it within three to four weeks. It won’t be hard to do because it is irresistible!
I’m happy about the rebirth of interest in food preservation we learned during the pandemic. In today’s crazy world, we seldom get to see the fruits of our labor, every pun intended.
I love to make jam, jelly, salsa, and relish when produce is abundant! It is fulfilling and satisfies my need for tangible evidence of my work. And you know what else? Everyone loves to get homemade food as gifts! Make someone happy with their very own jar of corn cob jelly!
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