Corn Cob Charcoal


English-grown sweetcorn seems to have a very brief season, given our normal weather, but this summer’s sun has brought forth an abundance, and with this abundance comes a lot of potential waste. 

Inspired by Dan Barber of Blue Hill in New York, who makes charcoal from all sorts of things that would end up thrown away (bones, lobster shells &c.) I decided that the cobs from all the sweetcorn should become fuel for future fires. Wrapping each cob in tin foil to prevent them from oxidising and disappearing, I baked them for about five hours at 200C.

I didn’t go far enough, as the slight amber colour in the picture shows, but they smell awesome when heated up again and I plan to grill over them if they can hold at an appreciable heat.

The husks are another useful product. In Mexican tamales, they are used to wrap masa dough tamales before steaming, but dried, they make an awesome smoking fuel. I’ve ground them to use in a Smoking Gun to smoke raw sweetcorn, and they make a great amber-coloured sweet smelling stock in the pressure cooker.