Freezing your own sweet corn

This blog is part of a series about preserving food so you can eat local all year long. I’ve collected them all into a free course that you can access here. The course includes lessons that explain the basic preservation methods of canning, freezing, and dehydrating, and specific examples of how I use these preserving methods in combination to preserve tomatoes and corn on the cob – two of my favorite foods!

 

Last summer I conducted a “great sweet corn experiment” with four dozen ears of sweet corn from the farmers market. Since I didn’t know how we would most enjoy eating our frozen corn, I prepared it three different ways.

  • 1 dozen – frozen in the husk
  • 1 dozen – shucked, blanched, & frozen on the cob
  • 2 dozen – frozen in the traditional way, as kernels; shucked, blanched, cut off the cob & frozen

 

The finished products of my great corn experiment. From left to right: frozen as kernels, frozen on the cob, frozen in the husk.

 

Here are my key takeaways from the experiment

  • If you really want to eat corn on the cob during winter, I recommend shucking it first (removing the husk and silk) and freezing it on the cob. It’s important to remember that it’s not going to taste the same as summer sweet corn, but it is a remarkably good way to eat corn on the cob during the winter.
  • If you want to cook with local sweet corn year round, I recommend freezing your corn as kernels. It’s really not that much work and the kernels taste absolutely delicious in soups, sautes, casseroles and other cooked dishes. This is the only method I’ll be using in 2020 and I’m about to process and freeze 10 dozen ears of corn!

 

 

My jars of frozen kernels in the door of my freezer. This was my favorite freezing method and the one I’ll be sticking with going forward. I loved using this corn in soups, sautes, and casseroles!

 

Supply List

  1. Glass jars, plastic bags (like Ziploc), or other containers
  2. Common kitchen utensils, such as a pot, tongs, knife, and cutting board
  3. Fresh, corn on the cob (the quantity is up to you; the instructions below work for any amount)

 

Step-by-Step Instructions

Below you’ll find my step-by-step instructions for each method for both the summertime prep (before freezing) and cooking.

 

Option 1: Freezing on the cob

Preparation before freezing

  • Remove the husks and silk
  • Blanch in a pot of boiling water for 4 minutes
  • Transfer immediately to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking
  • Freeze in gallon size plastic bags
    • Again, I recommend purchasing the “freezer” bags whenever possible. They will keep your food fresh better and are sturdier if you choose to wash and reuse them.
    • If you’re avoiding single use plastic (kudos to you!), I struggled to think of an alternative. Maybe a box would work, but in the meantime I recommend buying the sturdiest bags you can find so you can wash and reuse them.

 

To Cook 

  • Remove from bags (still frozen is fine)
  • Cook in a pot of boiling water for 10-12 minutes or 3 minutes in the instant pot
  • Enjoy!

 

Once you remove the husks and silk, blanch the corn in boiling water for approximately 4 minutes.

 

Option 2: Freezing as Kernels

Preparation before freezing

  • Remove the husks and silk
  • Blanch in a pot of boiling water for 4 minutes
  • Transfer immediately to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking
  • Cut kernels off the cob
    • Bon Appetit recommends cutting the corn off the cob on its side, but I never could get the hang of it, so I cut them vertically with the wider end of the cob on the bottom
    • The warm and more fully cooked corn is easier to cut off the cob
    • Consider saving the leftover cobs for stock, jelly or other creative uses as recommended here by the creative folks at kitchn
  • Freeze in glass jars or plastic bags
    • Each pint hold 2 cups of corn; each quart holds 4 cups
    • I recommend freezing in pints

 

Leftover cobs after removing the kernels with a knife. Some people recommend using these leftover cobs for homemade stock.

To Cook 

  • Defrost and use as called for in your favorite recipes.

I recommend this corn pudding tart from Nick Malgieri. It’s our FAVORITE way to use our frozen corn all year long.

 

This is our favorite way to eat our frozen corn kernels. It’s a delicious corn pudding tart recipe from Nick Malgieri.

 

How much sweet corn should you buy and freeze?

Just like in the previous canning and freezing lessons, this is a tricky question, but a really important one to discuss. Again, you’ll probably have to experiment over several years to really answer it well, but to get yourself close right now, I recommend asking yourself the following questions:

  • How do I plan to eat your frozen corn? On the cob? Or as frozen kernels used in various cooked dishes?
  • How often do we usually eat these dishes?
  • Do I wish to eat more or less this year?

I recommend this amazing chart to help you decide how many bushels or pounds to buy.

 

Here are a couple of handy conversions and thoughts for you to keep in mind:

  • Each cob yields about 1 cup of corn
  • My favorite corn pudding tart recipe (see above) calls for 5 ears of corn, but most recipes call for 1 or 2 ears/cups.
  • Last year I froze 4 dozen and am more than doubling it this year. Now that I’ve learned to cook with the frozen corn kernels, we’re going to eat so much more of it!

 

Here’s the 10 dozen ears of corn we’re about to process and freeze this year!

 

 

Please share your thoughts, questions and experience freezing corn in the comments! Do you preserve your corn using the water bath canning method instead? Please tell us about it!

 

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