Corn: On or Off the Cob

There’s nothing like eating fresh, flavorful corn-on-the-cob, grilled outside on a breezy summer day. But if you want to preserve some of that classic summertime treat for other seasons as well, then you might like to know about a few different ways to freeze corn.

Whichever freezing method you choose, select only tender, freshly-gathered corn in the milk stage. The milk stage is recognizable by plump kernels and a milky white fluid that secretes from cut kernels. (Some people even eat the kernels raw at this stage since this is when they are most sweet and moist). Husk and trim the ears, remove silks and wash well.

Blancher

Freezing Corn-on-the-cob is the only way to still bite it directly off the cob after freezing, but it is likely to become water-logged and mushy because it takes longer to blanch, freeze, and re-heat due to the presence of the dense cob. To freeze corn-on-the-cob, water blanch small ears (1¼ inches or less in diameter) for 7 minutes, medium ears (1¼ to 1½ inches in diameter) for 9 minutes and large ears (over 1½ inches in diameter) for 11 minutes. Cool promptly and completely to prevent a “cobby” taste. Drain and package. Seal and freeze.

Freezing Whole Kernel Corn is likely to produce crisper kernels than corn-on-the-cob, but must be eaten with a utensil or used as an ingredient in a recipe. To freeze whole kernel corn, water blanch 4 minutes. Cool promptly, drain and cut from cob. Cut kernels from cob about 2/3 the depth of the kernels. Package, leaving ½-inch headspace. Seal and freeze.

headspace_creamcorn

Freezing Cream Style Corn creates a creamy texture as a backdrop for the crisp kernels which stands alone as a side dish quite well, but does not necessarily mix into other recipes as well as whole kernel corn. To make cream style corn, water blanch 4 minutes. Cool promptly and drain. Cut kernel tips and scrape the cobs with the back of a knife to remove the juice and the heart of the kernel. Package, leaving ½-inch headspace. Seal and freeze.

Another way to prepare cream style corn for freezing is to cut and scrape the corn from the cob without blanching. Place the cut corn in a double boiler, and heat with constant stirring for about 10 minutes or until it thickens; allow to cool by placing the pan in ice water. Package, leaving ½-inch headspace. Seal and freeze.

These recommendations come from So Easy to Preserve and are also available on the NCHFP website. More freezing tips can be found at http://nchfp.uga.edu/how/gen_freeze.html.

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3 thoughts on “Corn: On or Off the Cob

  1. Pingback: Corn-ucopia | Preserving Food at Home

    1. nchfp Post author

      Properly preserving high quality food at the peak of ripeness is the closest we can come to preserving the taste and texture of fresh foods. There are several options for home food preservers wanting to preserve corn, or maize (links to recipes and procedures are in parentheses): freezing corn either on or off the cob (http://nchfp.uga.edu/how/freeze/corn.html), pressure canning whole kernel corn (http://nchfp.uga.edu/how/can_04/corn_kernel.html), and pressure canning cream-style corn (http://nchfp.uga.edu/how/can_04/corn_cream.html). The only directions we have for preserving corn on the cob are for freezing.

      For a final product most similar to fresh corn, be sure to use the highest quality corn suitable for freezing that you can find and process it within several hours of harvest. Our best recommendation is to freeze corn off the cob. Many prefer the quality of frozen corn off the cob, as the blanching times are much less than corn-on-the-cob. The blanching time for corn-on-the-cob requires enough heat to destroy enzymes in the cob and not just the corn kernels. Otherwise, you will end up with undesirable off tastes from the cob that occur over storage. However, blanching times are provided at the link above for corn-on-the-cob as well as whole kernel and cream style corn.

      A note about pressure canning of corn. With the development of sweeter varieties of corn, the heat of canning may cause undesirable, excessive browning to blackening of the corn. It is not safe to reduce the process temperature and time. Ideally we would be able to tell you the best varieties for canning, but at this time, with the rapid change of varieties and breeding practices, we do not have such a list. Other sources have listed these:

      Jubilee, Kandy Korn, and Merit (yellow varieties), Butter and Sugar and Twice-As-Nice (bicolor varieties and Alpne and Silver Queen (white varieties). We do not have experience with these ourselves; you may want to check locally for varieties known to work well for canning.

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