Hundred-year-old Recipe for Boiled Corn (Corn on the Cob)

corn on the cob on plate

I see some very basic recipes (I tend to call them non-recipes) for simple foods in both modern and hundred-year-old cookbooks. Apparently both in 2020 and 1920 some cooks had simple questions – like how do you cook corn on the cob?

In 1920 corn on the cob was referred to boiled corn. And, here are directions for making it:

Recipe for boiled corn
Source: The New Royal Cook Book (1920)

When I made the recipe I skipped the suggestion to put the Boiled Corn on a napkin. Somehow it just didn’t seem necessary – and it seemed like the napkin might get soaked from any water that dripped off the corn.

Here is the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Boiled Corn (Corn on the Cob)

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Husk corn and remove all silk. Fill large pot 2/3’s full with water. Bring water to a boil using high heat. Place husked corn in the boiling water, and boil rapidly for 5 minutes. Use tongs to remove the corn from the water.

37 thoughts on “Hundred-year-old Recipe for Boiled Corn (Corn on the Cob)

  1. That is how I used to make corn on the cob. However my mother has found a better way that is quicker. My husband doesn’t like “soggy” corn so I wrap the ears in Saran wrap and microwave for 3 minutes for 1 ear and up it by 30 sec. for each additional ear of corn up to 4 ears… Of course this is the method AFTER I bought a wonderful cast aluminum shallow pot designed just for corn!

    1. Oh dear- hopefully you are able to use the cast aluminum shallow pot for something else. Thanks for the directions. I hadn’t realized that corn on the cob could be cooked in the microwave.

  2. This is the way my mother cooked corn and I always thought it was the only way until a few years ago when I discovered 2 easy modern ways…I just put the corn in the oven, husk and all, and roast it on 350-400 for about 1 hour. Then I cut of the husk at the widest part of the base. Then you pick up the corn by the other end of the husk and shake, the corn cob will slide out, silk and all. If time is short this same method works in the microwave, 4 minutes per ear! It really is magic plus the corn stays hot for much longer. Happy corn season, I just love summer corn!

    1. I learn so much from my readers. I am so fortunate to have wonderful readers who take a few moments to share their knowledge and thoughts.

  3. My mom always boiled the corn unless we were having a cookout and the grill was on. She also put the corn on a towel (but not on the platter) for a few seconds just to absorb any water she didn’t shake off! Her funny little habit was to spread butter on the heels of bread, cup the bread in the hand, and use that to efficiently butter the cobs! I think it saved on butter, but it also evenly distributed the butter deep into the little crevices.

    1. I didn’t think about that. Now that you explained, it makes sense to put the corn on a towel or other absorbant cloth to absorb any water that may drip off. I’ve intrigued by the idea of using buttered bread heels to butter corn.

  4. I love corn on the cob, especially when the crops start coming in and it is very fresh! I used to boil it, but didn’t care for the taste of it when microwaved. Several years ago I started grilling it and have found that I prefer the grilled taste over boiled. At first I made a recipe with a sour cream based spread to put on it, but in my laziness I now skip it. I think it is interesting that boiled corn has stood the test of time in our preferences! I wonder what the napkin’s purpose was other than a way to move the corn around without touching it and burning your fingers!

    1. There is such a difference between very fresh corn and the corn ears typically sold in the grocery store (which, which in my opinion, are barely worth buying).

    1. My parents also grew sweet corn. I can remember sometime eating fresh sweet corn within a half hour or so of it being picked. It was really good.

    1. It’s one of my favorites, too. It is also something that I generally only eat when it is in season, which makes me enjoy it even more when I do eat it.

  5. We are inundated with fresh corn right now. I never thought of preparing it any other way. Glad to know some things haven’t changed in 100 years.

  6. The more things change, the more they stay the same! My rule of thumb for for husked ears of corn: bring the water to a boil. Add the corn and continue heating. When the water boils again, the corn is done.

    1. I don’t usually actually time the corn when I make it. I just boil it until I “think” that its hot – that might be 3 minutes. . . or maybe 4. . . or maybe 5. I’m not sure.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s