Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Freezing Corn

I am currently out of town at a fabulous workshop in the Outer Banks, but am stuck inside due to a storm, so I thought this would be a good time to post about a little preserving task I took care of before leaving home.

I'm a little strange.  I admit it.  While others have fun going out to parties and doing things that are supposedly 'normal' for people my age, I find it fun to sit around my kitchen table shucking corn and cutting it off the cob.  Actually, let's rephrase that, I find it fun for a little while.  After a few hours, your back starts to feel like I imagine it would if you were pregnant, the skin on your fingers is imprinted with the pattern from the knife you are using, and when you go to bed, the only thing you can see when you close your eyes are kernels of corn falling into the bowl in front of you.  So, maybe it's not so fun, but it is truly rewarding.  You put in a few hours of effort, and you are rewarded with fresh tasting corn all winter long.  Nothing beats that. 

Corn is one of those vegetables that cannot be canned in a water bath due to its low acidity level.  You can pressure can it (I will be posting more about pressure canning soon), but I much prefer to freeze it.  It is so easy to do, and it can be left on the cob or cut off.  I do a little of both.  Corn on the cob is great for those nights when I am very busy and don't have time for much else, and corn kernels are perfect cooked in a buttered skillet or added to soups, cornbread, salsas, or fritters. 

The process for freezing corn is very similar to the one used for freezing green beans.  First you want to shuck the corn and remove the silks.

You then plunge the ears, as many as you can at a time, into a very large pot of boiling water.  They stay in the water about 5 minutes.  Blanching vegetables before freezing is an important step.  It stops the enzymes in the vegetables that would otherwise cause them to lose flavor, texture, and nutrients in the freezer.  In other words, if you want the quality of your vegetables to withstand freezing, you need to blanch them.

Once blanched, they need to be placed immediately into a large pot of ice water to stop the cooking process.  I use my canning pot for this by filling it halfway with cold water and ice. 

When the corn is cool, you can either snap the cobs in half and pack into freezer bags for corn on the cob (very quick and easy) or you can use a sharp knife to slice the kernels from the cobs.  I slice the tops of the kernels off and then use the knife to scrape the cob to remove the corn juices.  This is a messy process (which is why my table is covered in paper bags in the pictures) but it results in a very flavorful, almost creamy corn.  The two bowls in the picture show the corn kernels from a bushel of corn (this was 54 ears). 

The corn kernels can then be placed in freezer bags.  I use pint bags, and this bushel gave me 15 pints of corn. 

I put up another bushel, some on the cob and some off.  For that bushel I cut 20 ears of corn in half to make 40 smaller pieces of corn.  I then bagged them four halves to a quart size freezer bag to give me 10 bags of corn on the cob.  I cut the rest off the cob and got 6 more pints of corn kernels.  This is a lot more corn than I put up last year, but I was able to get a really good deal on it, and since we ran out very early last year, we thought it was worth it.    



  1. This is a brilliant plan! I'm absolutely going to freeze a bunch of my own corn this weekend. (By "my own" I mean "from the farmer's market," but whatever.) I bet the finished product is way better than store-bought frozen corn.

  2. Eileen, frozen summer corn is definitely better than store-bought, and to me it is worth the effort to put up. When I want to use it I just pop in the microwave for 30 seconds or so to thaw it a little or let it thaw on its own in the fridge. Nothing beats corn cooked in a cast-iron skillet with a tablespoon or so of butter in the middle of winter! Have fun!

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