Farmgirl School

"It is no bad thing to celebrate a simple life." -Tolkien

We processed three bushels of corn this weekend. Forty-six jars of corn and two gallons of frozen corn were added to our winter stores. In addition to the edible kernels, there are other by-products of canning corn ourselves.

After cutting off the kernels, the majority of the cobs go to the chickens along with any under-ripe ears. My very large soup pot gets filled with the best looking empty cobs. I keep onions, ends of leeks, floppy carrots, anything just starting to turn, in the freezer for broth. This morning I will add all of the onions and lots of garlic to the pot of cobs and will end up with around 18 quarts of corn broth. Then the cobs from the pot will go to the chickens as well. After the chickens are done with the cobs, we will let them dry out in the sun in the chicken pasture. When dry, the cobs make perfect fire starters, so they will be gathered up and stored for winter fires.

The husks can be used to make tamales ( I ought to learn how) or fun corn husk dolls. Around here, they will go in the compost and add a much needed “green” addition to our mostly straw compost piles.

There is yet one more product that corn gives us. As an herbalist, it is a very important one in my medicine stores. Corn silk. Keep the corn silk after shucking and store it in a paper bag with a few holes punched in it. Mine is hanging in the garage to dry. Once completely dry (give it a few months), store in a resealable bag or jar.

Corn silk is specific to the urinary tract system. It is a common tea in Japan. It is quite tasty with a hint of corn. Corn silk helps keep the kidneys, bladder, and urethra free of infection and acts as a mild diuretic. It is not an antibiotic- for a full kidney medicine add juniper berries, echinacea, cranberries, and dandelion. Corn silk tea each day can help prevent infections of the urinary tract. It is basically free medicine. It is so easy to save it after shucking corn to throw on the grill or to preserve.

It is high canning and gardening season around here and I do love to be busy. I love how Mother Nature feeds us and medicates us with simple plants from the wild and in our own garden.

3 thoughts on “The Many Uses of Corn (including medicine)

  1. I remember growing corn with my mum when I was much younger – she was experimenting and grew squash at the bottom and beans or peas climbing the corn, something like that anyway. I think we probably just ate it on the cob with lots of butter, but I’d love to try some of the uses you suggest (like tamales), might try growing some next year. 😊

    1. Katie Lynn says:

      She grew the 3 Sisters! Native Americans grew corn, beans alongside to fix nitrogen and climb up the stalks, and squash to shield out weeds and dissuade corn thieves because of their prickly stems. That’s how I grow it too! I had heard that corn isn’t a common plant in UK gardens, is that right?

  2. I’m not sure corn likes the climate here, plus in Scotland we have a long winter and short, unpredictable summer. X

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