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How To Tell If Corn Is Bad

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One of the largest crops in America, corn is used for making food items and beverages, in addition to being used in the industry and as cattle, hog, and poultry feed.

It is incredibly delicious and versatile and can be prepared as a savory or sweet side dish or snack.

It can be grilled, baked, and boiled for different variations and can be paired with meats, salads, pasta, rice, potato chips, French fries, and potato wedges.

You can find several different varieties of corn in the market, from fresh corn on the cob to pre-packed and preserved corn kernels.

While fresh corn tastes far superior to preserved corn and is often the preferred choice for chefs all over, they have a shorter shelf life and can go bad, whether it is raw or cooked.

So, how can you tell if corn is bad? Some of the most obvious signs that determine whether corn has gone bad include a rancid smell emitting from it, a slimy and moldy feel to it, and changes in its color.

Read on to find out more about the signs of spoilage to look for in cooked and uncooked corn, what makes it go bad, what happens if you eat bad corn, how to store it properly, and much more:

How To Tell If Corn Is Bad

As with any type of food that goes bad, if you eat spoiled corn, you may experience symptoms such as food poisoning, digestive issues, acidity, nausea, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.

That being said, you must always make sure to store your corn properly and look for any signs of spoilage before consuming it.

Spoiled corn can be identified in a number of ways, most of which rely on your basic senses of sight, smell, and touch.

Good-quality fresh corn will look, taste, smell, and feel a certain way, and it is very easy to tell apart good kernels from ones that have gone bad. Here are a few signs you must look for:

Slimy And Moldy Appearance

The most basic sign that distinguishes good corn from one that is spoiled is the way it looks. Fresh corn is healthy-looking and has a nice, firm texture to it, with the bumps of the kernels being prominent to the touch.

If you notice that the corn is slimy to the touch, has visible mold growing on it, or you see any black spots on it, it has definitely gone bad and must be discarded

Avoid using parts of the corn that you think look alright since mold grows on a microscopic level and is not always visible, meaning that it may have affected more parts of the corn than what you can see.

Rancid Or Moldy Smell

Smelling the corn is another way to tell whether it has gone bad or not. Since mold growth may be hard to spot right away, you may use your sense of smell to check the corn’s freshness.

Corn with moldy growth usually has an off-putting, rancid smell to it that can indicate right off the bat that it has gone bad.

Even the slightest change in the corn’s smell could mean that the spoilage has begun, which is why it is best to throw it out before it can affect any other of your food items and fresh produce.

Brown Husk

In addition to checking the color and texture of the corn kernels, you must also pay attention to the color of the corn husk and its silk.

Healthy and fresh corn have a green husk and pale-yellow silk. But if you notice that the husk is starting to turn brown, it may indicate that the corn is entering the spoilage stage and may go bad very soon.

What Makes Corn Go Bad?

Different types of fresh foods need different types of storage conditions to thrive and, since they are all mostly perishable, they go bad after a couple of hours or days, depending on the food item in question.

When it comes to corn, the main culprit that speeds up its spoilage process is moisture. Compared to dried corn, moist corn has a much greater tendency to spoil, making cooked corn more at risk than uncooked corn.

The moisture acts as a good breeding environment for bacteria, fungi, and other contaminants, resulting in the appearance of mold and a weird, rancid smell from the corn.

To help avoid spoilage and to prolong its shelf life, it is very important to store it properly and keep the corn away from moisture.

How Long Does Corn Last?

Depending on the type of corn and its storage conditions, it can last anywhere between 1-3 days to around 10 months:

Type of CornShelf Life
Fresh corn1-3 days
Refrigerated fresh corn5-7 days
Refrigerated cooked corn3-5 days
Frozen corn on the cob8 months
Frozen cooked corn10 months

How To Store Corn To Extend Its Shelf Life

Learning the proper way to store corn can help you prolong its shelf life and prevent it from going bad prematurely.

If you plan on using whole ears of corn within 7 days, it is best to avoid pre-washing it since washing may lead to the development of moisture.

Use an airtight bag and store the unwashed corn on the cob in the refrigerator. The plastic from the Ziplock bag will protect the corn from water and moisture.

When you need it for cooking, take out the amount of corn that you need and store the rest in a similar manner.

You may store the ears of corn with the husks or remove them and just keep the kernels in the refrigerator where they will last for a few months.

To store corn in the refrigerator, properly wash the kernels and let them dry completely before wrapping them in a clean plastic container or Ziplock bag.

If you wish to freeze the corn, you may also slightly blanch the corn to preserve its taste, color, and texture.

Related Questions

Now that you know about the signs to look for in bad corn and the best ways to store it to extend its shelf life, here are a few additional questions we thought you might have!

How long can corn on the cob sit at room temperature?

If you do not plan on eating a fresh ear of corn right after you purchase it, you can safely store it at room temperature for a couple of days. To make it last longer, you may keep it in the refrigerator with its husk intact.

However, if the corn on the cob is cooked, it should not be left on your kitchen counter for more than 2 hours because bacteria can grow rapidly on the corn at temperatures between 40-140°F.

How long will cooked corn stay fresh?

If you have leftover cooked corn on the cob, you can store it in the refrigerator for 3-5 days and reheat it in the microwave when you want to use it.

Just make sure to store the cooked corn tightly wrapped in the fridge and cover it with a damp towel while reheating it in the microwave. Reheat it for a minute or two, turning it after every 20 seconds to make sure it is warm from all sides.

Alternatively, you may reheat it on the stove by boiling the ears of corn for around 3 minutes.

Although this method may cook the kernels slightly more, they will still taste delicious and won’t burst or turn hard, as they might while microwaving.

You may also freeze or can your cooked corn to make it last even longer, for about 8 months to a year.

How do you freeze corn on the cob?

The secret to perfectly freezing corn on the cob without compromising its flavor, texture, and appearance is to first blanch it.

The process of blanching involves putting food in boiling water for a few minutes and then putting it in a bath of cold water as a way to shock it and stop it from cooking any further.

To blanch corn on the cob, put it in boiling water for 3-4 minutes and then allow it to cool for about 30 seconds.

Next, plunge the corn into ice-cold water for around 4 minutes, cut the kernels off the cob, and put them in freezer-safe bags.

You may also freeze uncooked corn on the cob with the husk by simply placing it in a freezer-safe bag and storing it in the freezer.

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