Ina Garten's No-Bowl Method For Removing Corn From The Cob

Although it's available year-round, corn is especially sweet (and cheap) from May through September. Depending on where you live, yellow and white studded ears of sweet corn are abundant during that time at local farmer's markets with names like Silver Queen, Tuxedo, and Temptation.

While peeling back the husk and eating the corn straight from the cob is fast and delicious, removing the kernels is more civilized (especially if you have braces) and allows you to add fresh corn to every salad or side dish this summer. However, cutting corn kernels from the cob tends to make a mess, shooting all over the kitchen without a good cooking hack.

In time for this season's bounty, Ina Garten's mess-free, no-bowl method for shucked corn deserves repeating as it sent fans into a frenzy online while promoting her cookbook "Cook Like a Pro." True to her style, Garten's technique doesn't involve another useless gadget, like a corn zipper; You only need a sharp knife, a clean kitchen towel, and your favorite corn recipe.

The kitchen towel method

On Instagram, the Barefoot Contessa demonstrated her system for cutting the kernels off the cob by placing a clean kitchen towel over a cutting board. She begins by cutting one end off the cob to create a flat surface when she stands the corn vertically. This safety tip keeps the cob from rocking while being cut and prevents Garten from accidentally nicking her finger in the process.

Drawing a chef's knife from the top of the cob until it touches the cutting board, Garten removes the kernels in neat rows as she quickly works around the entire ear. In the video, she advises home cooks to use a sharp chef's knife so they don't leave any kernels on the cob.

The towel cushions the kernels as they fall, preventing them from spring-boarding around the kitchen. As a bonus, the towel can easily transport the corn to a bowl or pan, corralling those little pieces into a neat, single file when you fold the towel in half. Although Garten's method looks foolproof, some fans were quick to remind viewers about other kernel-cutting hacks. 

Other mess-free techniques

Instead of providing a soft place for the corn to land, these methods use a bowl to collect the falling kernels. For the first cooking hack, you'll need two mixing bowls, one medium and one large. Place the smaller bowl upside-down inside the larger bowl, cut off one end of the cob to create a flat surface, and rest it on the upside-down medium bowl like a pedestal. Use a sharp chef's knife to cut the kernels, rotating the cob as you finish a strip.

Alternatively, a Bundt pan can be used in place of the two bowls. Rest the cob on the center tube and cut off the kernels, watching as they fall directly into the Bundt pan. Be careful with either bowl technique since banging your chef's knife against metal can damage the blade. If you find it difficult to control, only cut halfway down the cob, then flip it to get the remaining kernels.

If sautéing the corn kernels, they can be cut when the corn is raw or cooked; however, for obvious reasons, grill the corn first if you want a smoky charred flavor in your recipe. When you're done cooking, don't throw away the empty cobs. They can be stored in the freezer for several months and used to make stock. For a sweet variation, try replacing the water with corn stock and prepare sweet corn risotto or grill a few ears for a delicious corn and goat cheese quesadilla.