One of the many things I loved about my Grandma Lupe was her vast knowledge of herbal lore. She had a remedio/remedy for everything that ailed us and could tell us the stories of each leaf, petal and plant. Her gardens were filled with not only flowers, but herbs and plants that were known to be healing and full of goodness as well as the recipes of what could be made with each. She instilled in me, early on, a love for nature and a love for the stories about them. In the back garden, my grandfather grew his vegetables and fruits as well as a few things my grandmother needed for her salsas, like chiles and cilantro. Going towards the patio, was a beautiful bay laurel tree where she picked her fresh bay leaves.
When my grandfather grew corn, he grew it far in the back near the fence and the slender green stalks grew tall. Like most kids, I loved corn and couldn’t wait for those tender ears to be put into a pot of soup or just boiled and served with butter. I loved helping shuck the corn and pulling the green leaves off. The tangly cornsilk was put carefully to the side. It was my grandmother’s sure-fire method of cleaning out kidneys. She swore it was good for the riñones (kidneys) and saved the silk of the corn. Some, she boiled right away into a pale, vaguely corn-tasting tea that she sweetened with honey. The rest, she’d dry and them carefully put away in her pantry for later.
I don’t know if it’s good for kidneys and kidney infections. I’m not a doctor or pharmacist. I have no scientific backing for it. All I have was my grandmother’s absolute certainty that God put cornsilk in corn to be used for tea that helped you clean out your kidneys. She couldn’t be far wrong if I pay attention to the fact that every Latino spice section has a carefully coiled up, dried skein of cornsilk for sale in little bags. Heck, even Amazon sells the bags of it.
It tastes good and I do as my grandmother did, carefully stripping the silk from the ears, putting it to dry and saving it for future cups of tea. Like my grandmother, I tell my grandchildren that it’s good for your kidneys and I make them a cup from the fresh silk as I cook their corn.
Té de barba de elote/Cornsilk tea
A handful of cornsilk, fresh or dried
Enough water to almost fill a 1 1/2 qt saucepan
Honey to taste
Bring the water to a boil and add the cornsilk. Lower the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes.
Sweeten to taste and that’s it. A delicious and possibly healthful tea. It’s delicious iced too.
*Once again, I am not a health professional. I am not saying this will heal you or in any way prescribe it.