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Washing removes the stringy silks from the corn kernels.
Fresh corn, whether from the garden or the store, comes with the husk still attached. Leaving the husk on the corn until just before you cook it helps the vegetable retain its quality and sweet flavor. Under the husk is corn silks. These long, hair-like strands run the length of the corn cob. The silks aren't pleasant to eat, but they are removed easily with the proper washing method. Corn also requires washing prior to freezing and other preservation methods.
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Grasp the tip of the husk and pull it down toward the base of the corn cob. Snap it off at the base of the cob. Repeat until the husk is completely removed.
Hold the cob under running water. Rub the surface of the corn kernels with your fingers in a circular motion, removing the silk strands still on the cob. An alternative is to scrub lightly with a vegetable brush to remove the silks.
Inspect the kernels on the cob. Cut out any discolored or damaged kernels with the tip of a paring knife. Cook the corn as desired.
Cut off 1/2 inch from both ends of the corn cob with the knife. An alternative is to slice the corn kernels off the cob if you prefer to serve the corn off the cob.
To barbecue or bake corn in the husk, pull back the husk but don't snap it off. Wash the silks from the kernels and then pull the husk back over the corn, encasing the cob.