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.

Kentish Romano Peppers 

From the Isle of Thanet and bought at Fruit Garden in Herne Hill.
I smoked them in a drum barbecue for five hours, over a smoldering mixture of elder and juniper woods, green tea and hay. I had planned to try and dry them in the sun during the micro heatwave we had, but this was too micro, and it’s gone, and so I have started to dry them at 70C in the oven. They have been in for around twelve hours so far. The kitchen smells amazing.

Halfway through the smoking, I collected the juice that had been drawn out of the pepper flesh and which had collected in the keel of the peppers. It was insanely good, and I drank it all.