Double Red Corn Cob Jelly

Learn how to make traditional corn cob jelly, with a naturally colorful twist!

This stunning scarlet jelly features Double Red, an heirloom sweet corn that’s loaded with anthocyanins – antioxidant rich plant pigments, similar to the ones found in blueberries.

jar of red jelly surrounded by fresh red corn husks and cobs
How to make homemade corncob jelly with red heirloom corn.

This year we grew a small test patch of Double Red heirloom sweet corn and were impressed by its beauty! It’s good on the cob (not our top favorite, but still good), it can be grilled and made into a fresh corn salad, or the the dried corn kernels can be ground into cornmeal.

As soon as we saw the deep maroon color of the cobs, we knew we wanted to try using this red corn variety in corncob jelly!

double red has a maroon cob
Double Red corn has a deep maroon cob colored with a tremendous amount of healthy flavonoid pigments. (2000 times as many anthocyanins as blueberries!) The silk also has a purple-red hue and is used as an herbal home remedy.

PS: Save some of the silks for tea and tincture. Corn silk is traditionally used for things like kidney stones and bedwetting, and is an excellent addition to your natural remedy cabinet. Learn more about using corn silk at our sister website: The Nerdy Farm Wife.

two ears of double red heirloom corn
Decades of traditional plant breeding led to the development of nutrient rich Double Red heirloom corn. It was bred by Dr. Alan Kapuler of Peace Seeds, with collaboration from Dylana Kapuler and Mario DiBenedetto of Peace Seedlings.

First though – what does red corncob jelly taste like?

We think it has a warm buttery overtone, kind of like when you slather jelly all over a hot buttered toast or biscuit and take a bite. The combination is delicious!

It’s very sweet, and similar to the sweetness and flavor level of store-bought grape jellies.

How to make corn cob jelly with Double Red corn:

The ingredients and instructions are exactly the same as if you were using yellow or white corn, just use red corn in its place!

Ingredients for the corncob juice:

  • 12 ears of fresh Double Red corn
  • 8 cups (2 quarts) water

How to make the juice:

  1. Remove the corn from the corncobs. This works perfectly if you plan on canning your corn, or you’ve briefly blanched it for freezing or dehydrating. We use an electric knife for this step, but a regular knife will work as well.
  2. Place the corn cobs in a large stockpot and cover with the water. Bring to a boil, then cover the pot with the lid and turn down so the water is simmering. Simmer for around 30 minutes. Strain the juice through a fine mesh strainer lined with a layer of cheesecloth. If you kept your pot covered, you’ll probably end up with at least 6 cups of water (enough for two batches of jelly). If you left the lid off, you’ll have a lot less liquid.
  3. Use this liquid in the recipe below to make your jelly!
jar of corn cob juice
The finished corn cob juice is a dark purple color. It will lighten up and turn ruby red once the pectin and sugar are added, and the jelly has gone through cook time.

Ingredients for the jelly:

  • 3 cups of corn cob juice from above
  • 1 package of Sure-Jel powdered pectin (1.75 oz yellow box)
  • 3 cups sugar

You’ll also need:

  • a heavy duty stockpot
  • a heatproof whisk or other stirring utensil
  • a 4 cup pyrex measuring cup (optional, to make filling jars easier)
  • 4 half-pint jars with lids and rings (and an extra 4 oz jar handy if needed)
  • a water bath canner
  • a jar lifter
  • a towel for setting the hot jars on

Yield: This recipe should fill 4 half-pint jars, with possibly a little leftover, depending on how vigorously you boil during the 5 minutes of cooking time.

Before you begin:

Fill your water bath canner with enough water so your jars will be covered by at least an inch of water. We like to fill our clean jars with water and place them in the water bath canner while it’s heating. This heats the jars and then keeps them hot so they’re nice and ready when it’s time to fill them!

Place the water bath canner on a burner, place the lid on top of it, and turn the heat to high so it can begin heating while you make your jelly.

Tip: We also like to fill a 4 cup Pyrex or Anchor Hocking measuring pitcher with really hot tap water and let it sit nearby. You can empty out the hot water, pour the hot finished jelly mixture into it, then use it to neatly fill your jelly jars.

jars of red jelly with fresh ears of double red heirloom corn
The finished jelly is a bright ruby red color that’s especially pretty in the sunlight!

Directions to make red corn cob jelly:

Pour the 3 cups of corncob juice into a stock pot or large saucepan. Make sure it’s a large pot since the hot jelly mixture will get quite high when it’s boiling. Empty the box of pectin into the pot and stir well until there are no lumps in the juice. Turn the heat to medium high and bring to a full rolling boil. Once boiling, add the 3 cups of sugar and bring the mixture back to a strong rolling boil. Boil for 5 minutes. Turn off the burner, but don’t remove the jelly from the heat quite yet. If you see foam on top, you can optionally skim it off before filling your jars.

Working quickly, but carefully! Use a jar lifter to remove the jars from the water bath canner and place them on a towel.

Now you can pour the ultra hot jelly mixture into the waiting 4 cup Pyrex pitcher for easy pouring into jars, OR ladle the hot mixture directly into the hot jars. Fill to a 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe rims of jars clean with a damp paper towel, then place the lid and rings on the top of the jar.

If you don’t process your jelly in a hot water bath, the shelf life is about 3 weeks, stored in your fridge. If you do water bath can it, it should last a full year stored in a cool dry spot out of sunlight.

lifting jars of red corncob jelly from water bath
The jars of jelly have been processed in a hot water bath for 10 minutes and are now ready to cool undisturbed for 24 hours!

How to water bath can corn cob jelly:

Using a jar lifter, place the filled jars down into the hot water of the preheated water bath canner. Make sure the hot water is covering the jars by at least one inch.

Place the lid back on the canner and bring the water to a boil. Boil for 10 minutes, then remove the lid (carefully – watch for hot steam).

Remove the jars from the canner and place them on a towel to cool, undisturbed, for 24 hours.

Jars that didn’t seal after 24 hours should be stored in the fridge and used within 3 weeks. Sealed jars can be labeled and stored in a cool dark place for up to a year. You don’t need to keep the rings on the jars once they’ve been sealed by water bath canning.

Sources & Further Reading

National Center for Home Preservation: Making Jams & Jellies: Corncob Jelly.

Silva, Rui F. M. and Pogačnik, Lea. Polyphenols from Food and Natural Products: Neuroprotection and Safety. Antioxidants (Basel); 2020 Jan; 9(1): 61.

YouTube. Rencontre avec Peace Seedlings, producteur de semences de Kokopelli. (Meeting with Peace Seedlings.)

jars of red jelly with fresh ears of double red heirloom corn

Double Red Corncob Jelly

Learn how to make traditional corn cob jelly, with a naturally colorful twist!
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Course: Jams & Jellies
Keyword: corncob, heirloom corn, natural color
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 4 half-pint jars

Equipment

  • heavy duty stockpot
  • heatproof whisk or other stirring utensil
  • 4 cup pyrex measuring cup (optional, to make filling jars easier)
  • 4 half-pint jars with lids and rings (and an extra 4 oz jar handy if needed)
  • water bath canner
  • jar lifter
  • towel for setting the hot jars on

Ingredients

To make the corn cob juice:

  • 12 ears double red heirloom corn (but can also be made with white or yellow corn, for no red color)
  • 8 cups (2 quarts) water

To make the red corncob jelly:

  • 3 cups corn cob juice from above
  • 1 box Sure-Jel powdered pectin (1.75 oz yellow box)
  • 3 cups sugar

Instructions

Before you begin:

  • Fill your water bath canner with enough water so your jars will be covered by at least an inch of water. We also fill our clean jars with water and place in the water bath canner while it’s heating to keep them hot.
  • Place the water bath canner on a burner, place the lid on top of it, and turn the heat to high so it can begin heating while you make your jelly.
  • Optional: Fill a 4 cup Pyrex or Anchor Hocking measuring pitcher with really hot tap water and let it sit nearby. After the jelly is cooked, you can empty out the hot water, pour the hot finished jelly mixture into it, then use it to neatly fill your jelly jars.

To make the corn cob juice:

  • Remove the corn from the corncobs.
  • Place the corn cobs in a large stockpot and cover with the water. 
  • Bring to a boil, then cover the pot with the lid and turn down so the water is simmering.
  • Simmer for 30 minutes.
  • Strain the resulting juice through a fine mesh strainer lined with a layer of cheesecloth.

To make the corncob jelly:

  • Pour the 3 cups of corncob juice into a stock pot or large saucepan.
  • Empty the box of pectin into the pot and stir well until there are no lumps in the juice.
  • Turn the heat to medium high and bring to a full rolling boil. 
  • Once boiling, add the 3 cups of sugar and bring the mixture back to a strong rolling boil.
  • Boil for 5 minutes.
  • Turn off the burner, but don’t remove the jelly from the heat quite yet. If you see foam on top, you can optionally skim it off before filling your jars.
  • Work quickly, but carefully for this next part!
  • Use a jar lifter to remove the jars from the water bath canner and place them on a towel.
  • Pour the ultra hot jelly mixture into the waiting 4 cup Pyrex pitcher for easy pouring into jars, OR ladle the hot mixture directly from the cooking pot into the hot jars. 
  • Fill to a 1/4 inch headspace.
  • Wipe rims of jars clean with a damp paper towel, then place the lid and rings on the top of the jar.
  • If you don’t process your jelly in a hot water bath, the shelf life is about 3 weeks, stored in your fridge. If you do water bath can it, it should last a full year stored in a cool dry spot out of sunlight.

To water bath can corncob jelly:

  • Using a jar lifter, place the filled jars down into the hot water of the preheated water bath canner. Make sure the hot water is covering the jars by at least one inch.
  • Place the lid back on the canner and bring the water to a boil. Boil for 10 minutes, then remove the lid (carefully – watch for hot steam).
  • Remove the jars from the canner and place them on a towel to cool, undisturbed, for 24 hours.
  • Jars that haven’t sealed after 24 hours should be stored in the fridge and used within 3 weeks. Sealed jars can be labeled and stored in a cool dark place for up to a year. You don’t need to keep the rings on the jars once they’ve been sealed by water bath canning.

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