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How to Tell if Corn on the Cob is Bad: A Comprehensive Guide

Corn on the Cob


Corn on the cob is a beloved staple of summer barbecues and family gatherings. Its juicy kernels and sweet flavor make it a popular choice for many. However, like any perishable food, corn on the cob can go bad if not properly stored or handled. In this article, we will guide you on how to tell if corn on the cob is bad, ensuring you can enjoy this delicious treat without any unpleasant surprises.

Close-up of spoiled corn on the cob with discoloration and mold.
Close-up of spoiled corn on the cob with discoloration and mold.

Signs of Bad Corn on the Cob

When assessing the freshness of corn on the cob, there are several key indicators to look out for:


Inspect the corn for any signs of discoloration, mold, or spots. Fresh corn should have vibrant, plump kernels that are evenly colored. If you notice any black, brown, or discolored areas, it may be an indication of spoilage.


The texture of the kernels is another important factor to consider. Fresh corn on the cob should have firm, crisp kernels. If the kernels feel slimy or mushy to the touch, it is a clear sign that the corn has gone bad.


Give the corn a gentle sniff. Fresh corn on the cob should have a pleasant, slightly sweet aroma. However, if you detect an unpleasant or sour odor, it is likely that the corn has started to spoil.


Lastly, taste is the ultimate test for determining if corn on the cob is bad. Cook a small portion of the corn and sample it. If the corn has a bitter or off-flavor, it is best to avoid consuming it.

Storing corn on the cob in a plastic bag inside the refrigerator.
Storing corn on the cob in a plastic bag inside the refrigerator.

How to Properly Store Corn on the Cob

To extend the shelf life of your corn on the cob and minimize the risk of it going bad, follow these storage tips:


Storing corn in the refrigerator can help maintain its freshness for a longer period. Place the corn, still in its husk, in a plastic bag and store it in the vegetable drawer. However, it is important to note that refrigeration can affect the taste and texture of the corn, so it is best to consume it within a few days.


Should you husk corn before storing? The choice is yours. Some prefer to husk the corn before storing it to prevent moisture buildup, while others believe leaving the husk intact helps retain moisture and freshness. If you decide to husk the corn, make sure to store it in an airtight container or wrap it tightly in plastic wrap.


If you have an abundance of corn on the cob and want to enjoy it at a later time, freezing is a great option. Simply blanch the corn in boiling water for a few minutes, then plunge it into an ice bath to stop the cooking process. Once cooled, remove the kernels from the cob and store them in a freezer-safe bag or container. Frozen corn can last for several months and is a convenient way to enjoy corn on the cob throughout the year.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can I eat corn on the cob if it has a few bad kernels?

While a few bad kernels may not necessarily render the entire cob inedible, it is generally recommended to discard corn on the cob if it shows signs of spoilage. Consuming spoiled corn can lead to foodborne illnesses, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.

How long does fresh corn on the cob last?

Fresh corn on the cob can last for about 3 to 5 days when properly stored in the refrigerator. However, it is best to consume it as soon as possible for the best taste and texture.

Can I cook corn on the cob if it’s gone bad?

No, it is not advisable to cook or consume corn on the cob if it has gone bad. Cooking will not eliminate harmful bacteria or toxins that may have developed due to spoilage.

Is it safe to eat corn on the cob with mold?

No, it is not safe to consume corn on the cob with mold. Mold can produce toxins that are harmful to your health. If you encounter mold on the corn, it is best to discard it.

Can I use corn on the cob with discolored husks?

Discolored husks alone do not necessarily indicate spoilage. However, it is important to inspect the corn for other signs of spoilage, such as slimy kernels or an unpleasant smell. If the corn appears to be in good condition otherwise, it is safe to consume.


Identifying whether corn on the cob is bad is essential to ensure a safe and enjoyable dining experience. By examining its appearance, texture, smell, and taste, you can easily determine if the corn has gone bad. Remember to store your corn properly in the refrigerator or freezer to prolong its freshness. By following these guidelines, you can savor the deliciousness of corn on the cob without any worries. So, the next time you’re about to indulge in this summertime favorite, make sure to check for any signs of spoilage and enjoy it to the fullest!

Note: For more tips on cooking corn on the cob and other culinary delights, check out our How-To category.


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