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Off the cob: Conquer the kernel dilemma

July 10, 2013

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We've put men on the moon but have yet to come up with a perfect corn de-kerneler — one that cleans a freshly shucked cob neatly while not shooting kernels all over the kitchen.

Sure, there are at least a dozen clever implements (variously called strippers, kernelers, zippers, cutters and peelers) designed to do the job. None seem to work as well as a sharp knife and steady hand. Even that has its own problems: Holding that cob upright and steady while cutting off the kernels can be a challenge. Containing the kernels that shoot off the cob as you cut still another.

To solve the slippery cob-on-counter issue, "Heather Christo's Generous Table: Sharing the Love of Good Food With Friends and Family" (Kyle Books, $29.95) suggests: "Cut corn on a clean dishcloth. It keeps the kernels from bouncing around after they have been sliced from the cob. I also like to use a serrated knife — it makes cutting kernels off the cob easier."

And while other cooks like using a shallow bowl, our favorite cob de-kerneling tip comes from Lisa Schumacher of the Chicago Tribune's test kitchen: Using a bundt pan, that tube pan with fluted sides, she positions a shucked ear of corn, stem down, into the tube's opening. With a sharp knife, she cuts straight down the cob's length to remove the kernels that drop into the pan. OK, 98 percent did when we tried it. But what's a few kernels when you have to deal with several ears full?

Judy Hevrdejs