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These Are the Easiest Ways to Drain Canned Corn

When life gives you canned corn, drain it and turn it into something delicious. We show you how.

For a seemingly simple task, draining a can of sweet corn can turn out to be quite the challenge.

For starters, you can mishandle the can and cut yourself on the lid, in some cases badly. Even if you’re extra careful and you don’t, a lot of the corn can fall into the kitchen sink—which, as University of Arizona microbiologist Dr. Charles Gerba tells Today’s Karen Gibbs, contains more fecal bacteria than a flushed toilet.

Which leads us to what you came here to find out: How do you drain canned corn in a safe and hassle-free way? And, once we have cleared that out, what are you supposed to do with all that juice? As usual, we’ve got you covered; read on to find out.

Tilt the Can in the Sink

As you have probably noticed, there is more than one way to empty canned corn. But by far the simplest and easiest goes like this:

Open the lid almost completely. Holding the lid with your index finger, turn the can upside down and pour the liquid down the drain. Tilt the can left and right or give it a light shake if needed.

To protect yourself from cuts, hold the can firmly in your hand and place your index finger where the lid is still attached to the can and point to the opposite side (where the can is most open).

If you’d like to learn more about why this works so well (and some other ways you can drain your canned corn without losing flavor), read the rest of the inside scoop below.

Step 1. Almost Open the Top

Many people open up their canned corn all the way, popping the lid completely and disconnecting the top from the can itself. When they try to drain their canned corn, they usually use their fingers as a sieve.

The problem with that technique is that, for one reason or another, your fingers aren’t really that good of a sieve. Mother Nature never thought of that use case when she was laying down the design and all. So, by going about things this way, you will end up losing a lot of corn along with the juice.

By choosing to almost open the can all the way—and leaving a little tab behind—you are able to use that as a pivot point to have the lid double-down as a strainer. Try this out; it is undoubtedly a game-changing move!

Step 2. Flip Upside Down and Drain

The only thing you have to do next is to flip the can upside down and let the corn juice drip out while holding the lid closed with your index finger.

If you are concerned about the salt and/or sugar content of the can, you can fill it up with cold tap water and repeat the process. Handle the can carefully throughout the whole process; I’ve had nasty cuts from lids myself.

Use a Strainer or a Sieve

Of course, there is another way to drain canned corn without losing any of the delicious corn: take your colander or sieve, pour the contents of the can into it, and let it do the work for you.

The drawback here is that you will inevitably have something else to wash when you are getting ready to clean up and do the dishes. But this is a much more consistent and much more reliable way to get your canned corn drained, no doubt about it.

We only put it in second place before it requires you to have a colander or a sieve handy—and you may or may not do so at the time of reading this article.

Corn Stew, Anyone?

Believe it or not, there are many people that like to keep that canned corn “juice” and reduce it down to a salty, sweet, syrup-like juice loaded with flavor instead.

This is a great way to take your canned corn to the next level, especially if you are going to be turning the corn in a major component for a soup or stew. Just be sure to do this only with high-quality cans whose ingredients list and nutritional value you have familiarized yourself with in advance.

Because they contain plenty of added sugar, salt, and preservatives, cheaper cans are going to impart “off flavors” onto your soup or stew, and that is the last thing you want when you’re cooking up something as delicate as corn.

Simply pour out the whole contents of the can into a saucepan, a large pot, or a Dutch oven, turn the heat up to medium-high, and let the juice simmer—stirring occasionally to keep it from sticking to the bottom—to the desired consistency.

Once you’re there, serve as-is or add the cooking liquid and the remainder of the ingredients.

Transfer to a Bowl, Microwave Quickly, Then Strain

If you are really pressed for time (and, nowadays, who isn’t), transfer the sweet corn and the corn juice into a microwave-safe bowl, then microwave on medium for 1-2 minutes.

The microwave is going to heat the juice, causing it to flavor and steam the corn at the same time, greatly enhancing the smell and taste of an otherwise plain canned food item.

Obviously, after you pull your canned corn out of the microwave, you are going to need to strain or drain it. Once again, a colander or a sieve will do the job. Be careful with the juice; at this stage, it will have gotten very hot and may burn your hand if you touch it.

We Wish You Luck

If you’re not interested in doing all that much cleanup, almost open the lid, grab hold of the can and the lid properly, and drain the can as we showed you above.

If you don’t mind doing a small amount of cleanup, or you are going to load everything in the dishwasher anyway, it isn’t a bad idea to use fine-mesh sieve or a colander with small enough holes to make the task as simple and as straightforward as possible.

We hope we helped, and we wish you good luck!

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Written by

Jim is the former editor of Home Cook World. He is a career food writer who's been cooking and baking at home ever since he could see over the counter and put a chair by the stove.