Corn Silk Tea Benefits and Recipes

Once you’re done shucking, turn this edible leftover into a nutrient-rich corn silk tea or topping.

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by Kami McBride

Learn how to make corn silk tea. Benefits such as a high pottassium content and anti-inflammatory properties are just the beginning for this soothing herb.

After you shuck the corn for your next summer supper, save the tasty, nutrient-rich corn silk to use in your kitchen. All these years of eating fresh corn, and you’ve probably thrown away tons of silk! Instead, enjoy this kitchen hack that harnesses additional nutrition from a vegetable you already eat. This silky ingredient is guaranteed to make your summer meals a little more interesting.

Corn silk is made up of the long, threadlike strands that grow underneath the husk of fresh corn and protrude from the tip of the ear of corn. The silken threads are the plant’s stigma, capturing pollen and help fertilize the corn so kernels can form.

Most people throw corn silk away, but it contains an abundance of healthful minerals and nutrients. Corn silk has a gently sweet, mild taste that works well as a simple tea or as a healthful topping on salads, tacos, and soups.

Corn Silk Tea Benefits

Corn is an ancient food staple with a long and storied history, so it’s no surprise that corn silk has also been appreciated every step of the way. Many cultures around the world have incorporated corn silk into their healing repertoires for centuries, and corn silk continues to be a valued ingredient for a wide variety of conditions.

There are many notable corn silk tea benefits. Corn silk is a soothing, nutritive herb that’s rich in antioxidants and many beneficial vitamins and minerals, including magnesium, calcium, amino acids, and flavonoids. Corn silk is particularly high in potassium, which helps nerves function, muscles contract, and your heartbeat stay regular, among other things.

Corn silk has long been used for its anti-inflammatory benefits for the urinary system. Corn silk soothes and relaxes the lining of the urinary tract and bladder, relieving irritation and improving urine flow and elimination.

Because corn silk has a mild, pleasant taste, the tea is also well-suited to children with weak bladders or who tend to wet the bed. The tonifying aspect of corn silk tea benefits also seem to help address incontinence in adults, especially among those who experience loss of bladder tone postpartum or during menopause.

In part because of the bladder’s close proximity to the prostate, anti-inflammatory corn silk is also used to help soothe the discomfort of prostatitis. Corn silk is a diuretic, which means it helps increase the flow of urine, which can, in turn, ease the pressure and discomfort placed upon a swollen prostate. Although more research is needed, a 2014 study also found that maysin, a major flavonoid in corn silk, is a deterrent for prostate cancer cells.

Although there are no known contraindications for corn silk, consult your health practitioner before adding new herbs to your diet, especially if you’re pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking medication. Don’t consume corn silk if you’re allergic to corn.

How to Harvest and Preserve Corn Silk

The vast majority of the corn that’s grown in the United States is genetically modified, but most sweet corn is not. However, it may be sprayed with chemicals and herbicides you likely don’t want to consume. With this in mind, purchase Certified Organic corn, try growing sweet corn on your own, or source it from your farmers market after asking how it was grown.

Corn silk can be harvested before the corn kernels fully form (in which case you’d need to grow it yourself and harvest it earlier than usual), though it’s still useful when harvested from fully matured cobs.

Pull the silk from the cob and separate it from the husk. Run your fingers through the silk a little to loosen it from being in one big clump.

You can use the corn silk when it’s fresh or dry it for later. As for how to make corn silk tea or powder to use when corn is out of season, it’s best to dry it. To dry it, separate the corn silk strands, place them on a flat basket or screen, and set it out of direct sunlight. Depending on the weather and humidity, this can take a few days to a week. After the water is gone from the silk and it feels slightly crispy, store it in a jar or paper bag for up to one year.

When corn season comes to an end, it’s such a treat to pull the scent of fresh summer corn out of a bag of dried corn silk and use it to garnish your hearty winter meals.

If you’d like to enjoy the benefits of corn silk tea but would rather not go through the process of harvesting and drying your own corn silk, then you can also purchase dried organic corn silk online. Corn silk tea, tinctures, and tablets are also available.

Eating Corn Silk

The most common way to enjoy corn silk by learning how to make corn silk tea. You don’t have to be inflamed or have prostate troubles to enjoy this tea. It makes a refreshing beverage for everybody. Brew the silk fresh or dried, alone or in combination with other herbs. The mild, gentle flavor blends well with other teatime herbs, such as peppermint, rose, and chamomile. Enjoy your corn on the cob, and then surprise your guests with some after-dinner corn silk tea!

You can also eat fresh corn silk by chopping it into small pieces and using it as a mild-tasting topping for salads, casseroles, polenta, soups, tacos, or anything else that would benefit from a nutritional boost.

Once you’ve dried your corn silk, throw it in the blender and make corn silk powder to sprinkle on eggs, rice, or potatoes.

If you enjoy corn on the cob for your seasonal summer meals, then don’t overlook this nutrient-rich ingredient! It all too often gets tossed into the compost pile before being fully appreciated, and it’s a wonderful example of how we can glean even more uses from our groceries or homegrown produce if we just know where to look.


How To Make Corn Silk Tea

This simple recipe is one of the most approachable ways to introduce corn silk into your diet and see whether you like the flavor. Yield: 1 serving.

hot water being poured through a tea strainer filled with fresh corn silk

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons fresh or dried corn (Zea mays) silk
  1. Put water and corn silk into a pot over medium heat. Cover and bring to a boil.
  2. As soon as it comes to a boil, turn heat down to the lowest setting and simmer for 10 minutes, covered.
  3. Turn off heat and let silk continue to steep for another 30 minutes, covered.
  4. Strain silk from water and warm your tea back up or drink at room temperature.

Corn Silk Sun Tea

Sun tea is a wonderfully simple method for how to make corn silk tea while trying to keep cool. Rather than using hot water from a kettle or pot, you’ll use the sun’s natural heat to steep the tea outdoors. Yield: 2 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups water
  • 4 tablespoons chopped, fresh corn (Zea mays) silk
  • Honey and lemon or lime juice, to taste
  1. Put corn silk and water in a half-gallon glass jar.
  2. Cover, then place jar out in the sun for half a day, roughly 4 to 6 hours.
  3. Bring jar in and strain silk from the water.
  4. Add honey and lemon or lime juice, to taste.
  5. Enjoy your tea chilled or at room temperature.

Kami McBride is an herbalist whose courses and bestselling book The Herbal Kitchen have helped thousands of people learn how to use common kitchen herbs and spices in delightful ways. Connect with Kami at KamiMcBride or on social media @KamiMcBride.

  • Updated on Aug 20, 2022
  • Originally Published on Jun 21, 2022
Tagged with: corn, corn silk, herbalism, nutrition, recipe, reducing kitchen waste, tea
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