How to Tell if Corn on the Cob is Bad

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If you love corn, there’s nothing better than eating fresh corn on the cob. A great source of fiber and protein, corn is both a vegetable and a grain. Nonetheless, eating it in moderation will add that extra something to lunch or dinner. But like any food, corn on the cob can spoil. If you want to know how to tell if corn on the cob is bad, here’s what you should look for before that next bite.

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Can Corn on the Cob Go Bad?

Unfortunately, corn on the cob can go bad, whether it is raw or cooked. The most obvious signs you should look for to determine if your corn on the cob has gone bad are either a rancid smell emitting from the corn, or if it has a slimy feel to it when you pick it up.

If you have uncooked corn on the cob that you take out of your refrigerator, you will probably notice a few kernels that are brownish in color. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean the entire cob has gone bad. As long as the corn does not smell bad or feel slimy, these brown kernels just mean your refrigerator temperature was a little too warm for storing your corn.

Should no other problems exist other than a few brown kernels, you can just cut these off with a knife and go about preparing your corn as usual.

What Does Bad Corn on the Cob Look Like?

Along with finding out that a rancid smell and slimy look and feel are some of the best ways regarding how to tell if corn on the cob is bad, there are a few other ways as well.

When you are in a grocery store shopping for corn on the cob, pay close attention to the husks and silk. In particular, look closely at the tip of the husk. If that or the silk near the tip of the husk has turned dark brown, this means the corn has some age on it, but may not necessarily already be bad.

To guarantee the corn on the cob you buy at the store is up to your standards, try to buy corn where the husks are fresh and green, with silks that are white or yellow and very tender.

As a general rule, treat corn on the cob just as you would any other type of vegetable you are buying. Should it feel mushy, have a noticeably dark color, or have an unusual smell, it’s likely not fit to eat.

Fresh is the Best

While all man made vegetables are best when purchased and eaten at the peak of their freshness, corn on the cob is especially at the top of the list in this area. In fact, once it has been harvested or purchased at a store, it is best if you can eat it within 24 hours.

However, should you not be able to do this, don’t assume your corn will go bad overnight. If you want to store it in your refrigerator for a few days, you can do so with few if any problems. But when doing so, remember to set your fridge’s temperature to about 35 degrees Fahrenheit, which will keep your corn fresh and prevent kernels from turning brown. Also, wrap it up very well in aluminum foil or plastic wrap, since corn that’s exposed to air for a period of time will begin to dry out and become tough.

Ultimately, no matter how well you’ve wrapped your corn on the cob and made sure the fridge temperature is just right, you should try to prepare it no later than five days after it was purchased.

How Long Does Cooked Corn on the Cob Stay Fresh?

Even if you and your family absolutely love corn on the cob, you may have a few ears left over after your meal. Rather than let good corn go to waste, you’ll want to store it in your refrigerator. When you do, keep in mind that cooked corn on the cob that is very tightly wrapped will remain fresh for probably about five to seven days at most. Therefore, don’t stick it in a part of your fridge where other stuff will hide it, or else you’ll forget about it and lose out on eating some great leftover corn on the cob.

When it’s time to pull out the corn from your fridge and eat it, you can either reheat it in your microwave oven or drop the ears into a pan of boiling water on your stove. If you use your microwave, cover it with a damp paper towel inside a microwave-safe dish, then reheat it at 20-second increments, making sure you turn the corn on the cob after each increment. As for the stove method, let it simmer in the boiling water for about three minutes. Though this will cook the corn a little more, it will still taste fresh. By relying on boiling water, this also reduces the chances any kernels will harden or burst, which sometimes happens when reheating in a microwave oven.

How To Tell If Corn On The Cob Is Bad_Alice's Kitchen

How Long is Frozen Corn Good For?

When you have corn on the cob that has been cooked and you want to freeze it, doing so will almost always ensure your corn will last for a very long time. On average, cooked corn on the cob that is well-wrapped and stored inside a freezer can last as long as one year. Once it has been in cold storage for eight months, it will usually lose some of its flavor, but should still taste good and be very safe to eat.

What Happens if You Eat Bad Corn?

When you eat bad corn, you can expect to feel just as you would if you had eaten any other type of spoiled food. Most often, this means you can plan on experiencing diarrhea, vomiting, and periods of gastric distress. Though you will technically be suffering from food poisoning, chances are you won’t need to see a doctor unless your symptoms persist.

For people who are allergic to corn, these same symptoms can come about after eating fresh corn. Therefore, if you have known food allergies or suspect you may be allergic to corn, it may be best to talk to your doctor or simply avoid corn altogether.

Husks Equal Greater Freshness

When you buy or harvest corn on the cob and want to store it in your refrigerator or freezer, keeping the husks on will allow the corn to remain fresh for a longer period of time. By keeping the husks on and wrapping it well in aluminum foil, the corn itself will not be exposed to air that can dry it out.

If you get corn on the cob that is already dried out after you purchase it, this usually means the corn was grown in an area where the conditions were very hot and dry. While it won’t hurt you to eat it, don’t expect it to taste very good when you do so during lunch or dinner.

Look at the Corn’s Texture

While you may be thinking examining the corn on the cob’s color and smell may be the only ways on how to tell if corn on the cob is bad, that’s not the case. If you are still unsure, you can examine its texture. When you touch an ear of corn, the bumps on its kernels will feel dry and hard, and you’ll notice an ever-so-slight bit of moisture from the husks. If you’re looking at the corn and instead find spots of red mold beginning to grow, this means the corn is in the early stages of spoiling and should be tossed in the garbage.

By keeping these tips in mind about how to tell if corn on the cob is bad, you can always make sure the corn you are buying and eating is fresh and will taste great.

How To Tell If Corn On The Cob Is Bad_Alice's Kitchen


How Do You Know When Corn Goes Bad?

When corn begins to go bad, you will notice such signs as a slimy look and feel, a rancid smell that may also be very sour, and black or red spots on the kernels that indicate the presence of mold and bacteria.

How Long Does Corn on the Cob Last in Fridge?

When corn on the cob is stored in the fridge, raw corn on the cob should usually be used within three days of being refrigerated, while cooked corn on the cob should be used within five days.

How Long is Unshucked Corn on the Cob Good For?

When corn on the cob is unshucked, it is best to use it within 24 hours of purchase or harvest. However, it will last up to five days when properly stored in a fridge, or up to one year if frozen.