Smutty Corn. The Grotesque Corn Fungus That Chefs Love.

If you came looking for corn smut you’ve found it.  And so did I a few days ago up in my corn patch. What it is and why I ever thought it was a good idea to eat it.

Amsterdam’s red light district. The Playboy mansion. The super-deep-down-secret-you’re-pretty-sure-you-erased-it hard drive of almost any computer in the world.  All places it would be perfect acceptable, expected even, to find various forms of smut.

You do not, on the other hand, expect to encounter smut while in your vegetable garden. I’m just an old woman out picking berries and BAM I’m confronted with smut.  Because of my obvious innocence and purity I’m proud to say I didn’t even know what it was when I saw it.

But there it was.  Something grotesque quite literally bursting out of the top of one of my corn cobs.

Almost instantly I remembered a post I’d seen on Instagram from a local chef. He was all googley eyed over a cob of corn that looked like a gargoyle had barfed it up. People in the comments were chiming in about how jealous they were, how it was Mexican *gold* and he should cook it up immediately.

It was corn smut.  Seriously. That’s the name of it.

I wasn’t quite as excited to see it on my corn but also figured, I like to be in the know, so I pulled off the cob and took it home.  Even though it was hideously ugly.  Like, seriously disturbing.


Once I got it back home, I stripped the husk off to see exactly what the hell kind of demon had taken over my corn cob..

Even though the “smut” was only on the top of the cob I was no less revolted.

I immediately ran inside and headed to Google looking for some kind of answers.  According to the Internet Corn Smut is a fungal infection of the corn that happens randomly and naturally. It’s similar to a mushroom suddenly growing.  Lovers of smut praise it’s indescribable taste, the earthy quality it has and how well it pairs with cheese.

Obviously these people were stretching here … I mean what doesn’t pair well with cheese? A pair of dirty Birkenstocks would pair well with cheese.

Instructions for cooking smut are kind of vague but it seemed like you could just sauté it and add it as a topping to almost anything.  Based on some Instagram recommendations and since I had some quesadillas in the freezer, I pulled those out and got ready to make a smutty dinner.

Would you eat this?


The kernels of fungus (good luck making that sound appetizing on a high end restaurant menu) plucked off the cob easily.

They were quite black on the inside, similar to the gills of a mushroom.  The outside of the fungus was a light grey with varying shades of grey throughout.  This smut was around 50 shades of grey.


I sautéed my smut in butter, as one does, and then opened up one of my premade quesadillas and stuck them in.  I then reheated everything in the oven and got ready  to muster up the courage to eat it.


Before eating the quesadilla I plucked a couple of smuts out of the pan and ate them.  They didn’t taste like much of anything.  Since reading on Google that the taste was “indescribable” I was getting ready to come up with all kinds of wonderful adjectives to describe the tastes.  After eating a couple I realized the taste is indescribable because it’s hard to describe what nothing tastes like.

I cut my quesadilla into slices and ate it for dinner.  I started to feel a bit queasy after the first couple of bites. The smut didn’t taste of very much but they have the same texture as … mushrooms.  Which as everyone knows is the same disgusting texture as tongue. Or warts.  But mainly my aversion to corn smut was entirely psychological. It’s ugly.  Ugly enough to convince my stomach it’s also poisonous even though it isn’t.

I’m not sure what it is that has chefs raving about corn smut. I suspect it’s the fact that smut is rare in North America because it only happens spontaneously and we always put more value on things that are rare.

Personally?  I’d rather eat a common cob of corn.

But I couldn’t live with myself without trying it because I may never encounter corn smut again. This is the same line of logic that me to try barnacles in the 90’s and a spiral perm in the 80’s.

If you grow corn or buy corn and see these grey globules growing out of it know that what you’re witnessing is a rare pheomenon.

A food I do not like.





So?  Would you?  Would you eat smut?



  1. jaine kunst says:

    I would run from something that looked like it oozed out of a giant pimple and then hardened. AND you fried that sucker up and ate it. You are pone BRAVE, badass woman!!

  2. Robert says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever read so many No’s in any comment section, ever and I’m counting all the ones I’ve read about questionable looking things in the luxury market 😊

  3. Jody says:

    I have seen alot of things in my years as an OR nurse but that is just wrong. I’m getting gaggy trying to erase that visual from my retinas. Wrong. Wrong. WRONG.

  4. Jackie says:

    Karen, I love corn & I also love mushrooms — That being said – there is no way – NO WAY – NO HOW that I would ever put that crappy looking crap in my mouth. Good for you for trying it but not for me.

  5. Barb says:

    My first attempt at trying to grown some corn ended up with several “infected” with smut. For some strange reason, I knew what it was. It’s one of pieces of knowledge that popped into my mind and I have no idea how I knew it! Haven’t grown corn since and no way would I eat it!

  6. SusanR says:

    Nope. Nopity Nope. Don’t even want to look at it, let alone eat it. If I ever opened an ear of corn with that disgusting mess inside it, I’d hurl it right into the garbage and then take the garbage out to the can, and the can out to the curb, so it couldn’t crawl back to the house and kill me in the middle of the night. And if I were you, I’d take an escort with me to the corn stand, from now on.

  7. Lisa G. says:

    Bwaaahhahahaaaa! Sweet jesus, great post. And everyone is being RIDICULOUSLY polite about the elephant in the room: look at the shape of that thing. Thank you Karen for (I think) subtly layering some verbal and visual clues so you didn’t have to state the obvious. You could have gone really blue with this. Like, navy. Your classy restraint is inspiring.

  8. Lynn says:

    You asked would I eat it …. ah no , I am with Shawna in Charleston I would have removed entire plant from my garden while wearing a hazmat suit. I definitely don’t have your stomach lol. An Chefs the use it are I am sure raking in the big bucks for the dishes they use it in . Guess that’s why I don’t like fancy dishes I like to know what the heck I am eating lol.
    An you just gave me another reason not to trust them hottie tottering chefs. 😃

  9. Debbie D says:

    Thank you so much for posting this and for those of you who posted the web articles. I started my diet today and those pictures of that “stuff” in the cans and on the ears, is a great reinforcement for me to not eat! Yup, that has cured my craving for a sweet. I think I can wait until lunch for my next meal that won’t have anything black or have corn in it! I will have to print out those pictures and put them on my fridge.

  10. Mary W says:

    Cooking/recipe has to be the difference in taste opinions. One Easter, the rabbit brought weird tasting jelly beans (snot, vomit, ear wax, etc.) just the names are revolting. The kids LOVED this and tried every one – mostly spitting them out but still loved it. One late comer that was a bit of a complainer and mostly came for the food then left, tried some without knowing what he was doing. He ran to the door, spit, and left. It was priceless. Maybe if he shows up again, I can make some Corn Smut cracker dip, just especially for him. LOL So glad you posted this as I would hate to die without trying what might be the best thing I’d ever tasted. You fixed that particular problem for me. Thanks.

  11. Ann says:

    I never ever occurred to me to eat corn smut and you were brave to try. I would be hard put to get past the visual of it. We grew sweetcorn on our family farm and typically found smut on various ears; even the cats wouldn’t touch it (altho they did eat raw sweetcorn from the cob).

  12. susang says:

    meant photos

  13. susang says:

    spiral perm? potos!

  14. Bonnie G. says:

    Two points: #1 Karen, are you sure someone didn’t eat that smut before you did?

    #2 Heather, I (respectfully) don’t know where the resemblance to a phallus applies and I am thankful that I just do not see it or I would become celibate!!!

  15. Leslie Barnard says:

    Wow. Wow wow wow. That is the Elephant Man of corn- “I am not an animal, I am a tall, annual, cereal grass!”
    And now, for the first time in my life, I am a reader of cornography! Gah!!

  16. Marie Anne says:

    I’m pretty adventurous but I don’t think I could have eaten that. Thanks for going for it, and sharing the experience! the comments are giving me a good laugh today too!!!

  17. Diane Ward says:

    You freeze quesadillas? Why didn’t I think of that? Kids lunches for sure. Thanks

    • Karen says:

      All the time. I make a batch, assemble them, then stack them in the freezer between wax paper and pull one out when I want one and cook it. ~ karen!

  18. Julie says:

    I saw the picture of your corn smut before reading your blog, and I wondered why and how you got fully engorged ticks to attach to an ear of corn. Even your description sounded like a fat ol’ tick, “50 shades of gray” and black on the inside. With that visual in mind, there ain’t no fricken way that I would try this, and I am willing to try most anything! You are the bravest person I know!!

  19. Marjorie Kramer says:

    Is all corn smut the same? Some mushrooms are poisonous so could some kinds of corn smut also be and how would you tell the difference?

  20. NinaMargo says:

    Karen, I ‘m sure there are folks nearby who’d love to buy it from you for tons of money! Instead of a lemonade stand, how about “Karen’s Canadian Huitacoche”?
    I’ve eaten it in quesadillas in Mexico City and loved it, and order it whenever I see it on the menu. Getting cravings now…

  21. Patricia says:

    Would I try this?
    No Flippin Way

  22. MaryJo says:

    I’ve heard of it and knew that chefs go crazy over it, but I don’t remember if I ever saw a photo of it before. Ewwwwww, I almost lost my breakfast just looking at your photos! I would not have done what you did. You’re a scientist, Karen, that’s what you are! A brave scientist doing research for the rest of us. Bless you.

  23. Liz says:

    I made an error in my previous post, it’s huitlacoche. Also known as “corn truffles”.

  24. Gayle M says:

    Witches’ toes. That’s why I loath it. Looks like witches’ toes. Had it back in the 80s in my 4×4 corn “field” and it tends to spread with the wind. Sort of like witches…

  25. Liz says:

    Actually, I’ve eaten corn smut at a famous restaurant in Mexico City. I had heard of it and wanted to try it. I ordered a crepe filled with the corn smut (huitlacoche is what it’s called in Mexico). It was delicious, it had a nutty, earthy mushroom taste and was tender. The crepe was filled with a cream based corn smut filling, and was simply delicious. There are many different recipes made with the huitlecoche, which I would love to try. I think you really need to know how to cook with it to get the best flavor out of it.

  26. Jenny says:

    Nope nope nope! Haha, you are far braver than I am–there’s no way I would have picked that out of my garden and eaten it.

  27. Bruce Cisco says:

    I’m from New Orleans….we eat almost anything down here. I don’t think I would have eaten that!!! 🙂

    Cheers to you for experimenting.

  28. June says:

    While I have seen this as an ingredient used on Chopped or similar competitive cooking shows i’ve never had the pleasure of tasting it. . Did a little research and my best guess is that you should have left it alone for a bit longer to develop more flavor. Finally ,who knew, seems it’s really good for you too.

  29. Carol says:

    Well, geez guys above, where’s your sense of adventure??
    Actually, I sympathize, having been a kid who was nauseated at the drop of a hat.
    Now, though, I’d have done exactly what you did, Karen, and how disappointing to hear that the damn things have NO taste. Weird!
    What a fun post, as usual.
    Thanks for sharing your unique self!

  30. Sabina says:

    Mmmmyeah I’m a solid NO on this one

  31. Heather says:

    I’ve never seen a cob of corn look so like a phallus. No wonder someone called it “Smutty.” Thanks for taking one for the team, Karen. You’re spirit of adventure is a boon to us all.

  32. Ev Wilcox says:

    Nope nope nope.

  33. Katie says:

    You really are one brave woman!

  34. Marilyn Meagher says:


  35. Laura Bearskin says:

    Your blog is likely the best in the world, at least in “my” world, and I wouldn’t miss it for anything, except if you develop something bad from corn smut and can’t write for a while. Then I would miss it! Did the chef show talk much about any illness from corn smut? Or how to tell the diff between “corn smut” and ergot? That would be good to know. 🙂

  36. Suzanne says:

    I’m dying here …. have you seen the ads down the side of your page, that the “smutty” title has generated? 😂😂😂😂😂

  37. Arli says:

    As my young nephews would say, “Ewwww, gross!”

  38. You’re a braver man than I, Gunga Din! The very thought of eating that would never have entered my mind and without doubt I would have removed the entire plant from my garden while wearing a hazmat suit! Of course, I’ve never eaten chocolate covered grasshoppers either! Maybe try those next???

  39. Diane LM says:

    You kill me!

  40. Sachi says:

    Karen, I shudder. It took all I had to stay on and read the whole post because let’s admit it, FOMO. But oh lord. I have cold sweat on my forehead and my hands are actually shaky and I think I am going to be sick.

  41. You’re brave and I love your candor…tastes like nothing.

  42. MrsChrisSA says:

    No. Just No.

    I am way too food squeamish to even consider going there – whole corn cob would have been turfed (and yet I love mushrooms!!)

    Your are braver than brave!

  43. Sherri says:

    Pretty sure I saw this stuff on Top Chef. Didn’t want try it then, either. Among other things what if there is more than one kind and I misidentified it. Eww! Thanks for taking the hit for the rest of us.

  44. Danni says:

    The answer is no way.
    Emphatically no way in hell.
    I applaud your bravery tho.

  45. I found myself filled with morbid fascination, torn between want to shout “No! Stop! Don’t do it!” and secretly hoping you would so I could read all about it.

    That said, I’ve gardened for a long time (although I’m not much of a corn grower). Corn smut is a new one on me. And it doesn’t seem like I’ve missed much. (Except Morbid. Fascination. Which is kind of rare in Gardening. And even Cooking.)

    So, Eeeew, and Thank You for allowing me to live variously without having to actually touch, much less eat, Corn Smut.

  46. Jennifer says:

    I didn’t have my glasses on initially and thought your blog was titled Slutty Corn! I thought, wow that Karen is really being hard on her crops! Once I was able to see I realized I was wrong, but not that wrong! Lol. Your bravery is commendable, first the snake and now this? Eating slut, I mean smut. What the shuck! (corny I know!) lol
    Cheers my friend!

  47. Cynthia says:

    Like truffles, sell any more you find for outrageous money to that chef and his ilk.

  48. Andrea says:

    longtime reader, don’t post much, but in case there’s more smut in your life: I gotcha covered.

  49. Cheryl L. says:

    Lordy, just looking at corn smut turned my stomach. Yucky – I can’t even look back at the pics. You are brave!

  50. DJ says:

    Maybe if you cooked it in your free instant pot it would taste better? JK. I didn’t listen to you about the instant pot and am now filled with $83 worth of regret. I couldn’t make beans. I couldn’t make BBQ pork shoulder. I don’t wanna even TRY rice. But MAYBE it would work on corn smut. If only I knew where to look for it.

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