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How long can you store corn husks?

Corn husks have a variety of uses, from cooking tamales to crafting dolls. With proper storage, corn husks can last for months or even years before use. Knowing the best storage methods allows you to buy husks in bulk when in season and keep them on hand for whenever you need them.

What Are Corn Husks?

Corn husks are the papery outer leaves surrounding an ear of corn. They protect the corn kernels while on the stalk. The husks are made of cellulose fibers and are totally edible, unlike the woody outer leaves you find on some other crops.

Fresh corn husks have a green color and pliable texture. As they dry, the husks turn brown and become more brittle. Dried husks are the most commonly used form since they are lightweight and easy to ship.

Why Store Dried Corn Husks?

There are a few key reasons you may want to properly store corn husks for later use:

Out of Season Availability

The corn growing season lasts from late spring through early fall in most regions. Storing husks allows you to prep dishes like tamales, dolls, wreaths, and other corn husk crafts even when fresh husks are hard to find.

Buy in Bulk

Since corn husks are perishable, many stores only carry small quantities. Drying and storing husks yourself allows you to purchase them in bulk when they are cheapest and most plentiful.

Reduce Waste

Proper storage keeps husks fresh so you can use up your whole harvest. Composting husks you won’t get to works too, but minimizing waste is ideal.

How Long Do Dried Corn Husks Last?

The shelf life of corn husks depends largely on storage conditions. Properly stored, dried husks can last:

– 6 to 12 months at room temperature

– 1 to 2 years refrigerated

– 2+ years frozen

If husks are exposed to moisture or pests, they will deteriorate faster. Signs of spoiled corn husks include mold, visible webbing, and a foul odor.

How to Prepare Corn Husks for Storage

To get the longest life out of harvested corn husks, they need to be promptly dried and cleaned before storage. Here are some tips for prep:

– Remove any remaining corn silks or debris from husks by brushing gently.

– Dry husks completely by placing in direct sunlight for 2-3 days, turning periodically. Use a dehydrator on low heat if weather is humid.

– For short term room temperature storage, husks can be left whole after drying. For longer term storage, consider stripping husks into strips or grinding into powder.

– To grind, use a grain mill or powerful blender on high speed. Sift to remove any remaining pieces.

– Packaging smaller pieces exposes more surface area to air which keeps material drier.

How to Store Corn Husks

Room Temperature Storage

For storage up to 6 months, dried husks can be kept at room temperature. To maximize freshness:

– Place loose or baled husks in breathable containers like burlap sacks or wire bins. Avoid sealing in plastic, which traps moisture.

– Store in a cool, dark, and dry area like a pantry. Avoid direct sunlight which can cause fading.

– Check periodically for moisture and signs of insects or mold. Discard any bad husks and mix in fresh dried husks to refresh.

– For added insect prevention, place small bowls of baking soda in storage containers. You can also add cedar chips or lavender.

Refrigerator Storage

The low humidity environment of the refrigerator can extend corn husks life to 1-2 years. Follow these guidelines:

– Pack dried husks loosely in untied freezer bags. Squeeze out excess air and seal. Freezer burn can still happen even without a true freeze.

– Sprinkling in cornmeal can help wick away condensation.

– Store husks towards the back of the fridge, away from the door and high humidity produce drawers.

– Inspect bags every 2-3 months. If any moisture or ice crystals appear, replace with new dried husks.

Freezer Storage

For longest shelf life of 2+ years, you can freeze dried corn husks. Steps include:

Storage Time Recommended Packaging
2-3 months Loose in air-tight freezer bag
4-6 months Vacuum sealed freezer bags
1+ years Food-safe plastic freezer container

– Wrap husks well to prevent freezer burn. Use multiple layers if needed.

– Label bags or lids with contents and date. Place oldest bags up front.

– Inspect periodically for ice crystals or humidity inside packaging. Discard any with signs of moisture.

Thawing and Rehydrating Corn Husks

For best results when using frozen or dry stored husks:

– Move husks from freezer to refrigerator 24 hours before planned use. This allows them to thaw gradually.

– To rehydrate, soak husks in room temperature water for 2-3 hours until pliable again. Weigh them down to remain fully submerged.

– Avoid thawing at room temperature or rehydrating with hot water. Drastic temperature changes increase risk of spoilage.

– Use rehydrated husks immediately. Don???t refreeze thawed husks.

Signs Your Stored Husks Have Gone Bad

With proper storage methods, dried corn husks can last a remarkably long time. However, eventually they will show signs of having gone bad. Discard husks if you notice:

– Visible mold growth on husks, which may appear black, green, or fuzzy white

– Strong musty or sour odor

– Presence of webbing and small white specks, indicating pantry moths or other insect infestation

– Very dry and brittle texture that does not soften when rehydrated

– Change to a dull brown color compared to the natural beige when totally dried

Uses for Corn Husks

Here are some of the most popular ways to use your stored corn husks once you are ready:


– Tamales – Soak husks to wrap masa dough for steaming.

– Pozole – Add husk pieces to soup for texture and flavor.

– Veggie bake – Line baking dish with husks instead of foil or parchment.

– Grilling – Wrap fish, shrimp, and corn to cook on the grill.


– Corn husk dolls – Create miniature figures using silk from the husks as ???hair???.

– Wreaths – Braid or twist husks into holiday wall decor.

– Flowers – Shape husks into blooms and spray paint them.

– Baskets – Weave soaked husks into round containers.


– Soak husks in hot water for a light, earthy tea. Drink plain or use to replace water in recipes.


With the right harvesting, drying, and storage methods, corn husks can last for months or years before use. Keep them in a cool, dry spot to prevent spoilage. Grinding husks extends shelf life even longer compared to keeping them whole. Always inspect stored husks periodically and discard any that appear moldy or damaged. With a little planning, you can enjoy corn husks for tamales, crafts, and other corn-themed projects all year long.