How To Tell If Corn On The Cob Has Gone Bad

Corn, like all fruits and vegetables, is perishable and susceptible to spoilage. In fact, the most fascinating thing about corn may be that, per Women's Health, it qualifies (by strict definition, anyway) as both a fruit and a vegetable. And did we mention it's also a grain? 

However you want to characterize corn on the cob, and whichever way you prefer to prepare it – boiled, steamed, grilled, and oven roasted are a few of the many popular methods — it's best to cook corn in a timely fashion. As Farming Method notes, corn on the cob stays fresh for only one to three days, or five to seven if refrigerated.

So how can you tell if your corn on the cob has gone bad? Well, the warning signs are mostly obvious and involve sight and smell. Per Eat Delights, for example, if your corn on the cob looks moldy or smells rancid, that's a sure indication it's no longer fit to eat. A slimy or mushy texture is also a dead giveaway. On the other hand, brown kernels can usually just be cut off, observes Farm and Animals, as long as no other signs of spoilage are present.

Tips when shopping for corn

One of the best ways to keep corn on the cob fresh longer is to be more selective when shopping, and by keeping your eyes peeled for any telltale markers of incipient aging. Per Alice's Kitchen, these indicators can be detected by examining the color of the husks and silks. Ripe corn should exhibit green husks, with silks that are white or yellow. If either the husks or the silks are already brown, the corn may still be fine to eat, but it is certainly already aging and should be avoided unless you intend to cook it immediately. Shoppers should also be on the lookout for fungal or insect damage, per Farming Method.

Storing corn on the cob properly can also help to keep it fresh longer. Taste of Home recommends leaving the husks on and refrigerating your corn immediately. When left at room temperature, the natural sugars in the corn will more quickly transform into starches. Thus, prompt refrigeration helps to preserve the corn's fresh, sweet flavor. Wrap the corn in plastic before putting it in the fridge, but not so tightly that the corn can't breathe. Overly tight wrapping can lead to moisture retention and help accelerate the growth of mold, which, as noted earlier, is an indicator of good corn gone bad.