How to Freeze Corn Guide: We savor corn on the cob in the summer, but the season for fresh corn only lasts so long, so the next best thing is to freeze it! Freezing corn is a little messy, but it’s not hard at all. (And, yes, you must blanch it!) Wouldn’t it be divine to have the taste of summer come January?
Get Corn Into the Freezer Quickly
Make sure that your corn is really fresh (as in picked the same day) because the taste and flavor of corn goes downhill fast. When freshly pickled, sweet corn is high in natural sugar and low in starch.
After corn is picked, it takes only two hours for the sugars in the kernel to turn to starch changing the flavor and even the texture when it’s cooked. So, it’s important to get it into the freezer quickly once it’s taken from its stalk for that amazing flavor.
I tend to buy corn from my local farm stand instead of growing it. You need a large stand for corn to be successful. Small patches don’t work out so well. At minimum, grow corn in blocks now long rows.
Why? Corn is different from most vegetables. It isn’t pollinated by the bees; rather, the wind does the job. Those silks or hairs are really important. During pollination, pollen from the tassel is carried by wind to the silks. Pollen grains attach to the sticky end each silk, and then travel down the silks to fertilize each ovary. After pollination, the ovary develops into a kernel of corn at the other end of each strand of silk. Take a look the next time you husk corn, and you will notice that there is a silk attached to each kernel!
I arrive at my local, organic farm when or slightly after it opens. I buy three dozen ears and bring them home. Two and a half dozen of these ears will be frozen!
One ear of corn usually yields about ½ cup kernels.
How to Blanch Corn
If you’re freezing corn, I recommend blanching for best taste, i.e., give the corn a quick boil in water followed by quickly cooling in ice water before preserving by freezing.
Natural enzymes in corn need to be inactivated before freezing to prevent the loss of color, nutrients, flavor and texture. Chilling in ice water prevents the corn from becoming mushy due to overcooking the starch.
Let the corn sit in the icy water until it’s cold, typically, same amount of time corn was blanched.
Freeze Off or On the Cob
You can freeze the entire cob instead, but I don’t care for frozen cobs and they take up a lot of space.
Immediately, I put a large pot of water on the stove to boil. While waiting for this to happen, I shuck the corn from its husks, removing all that silk.
I also get out several trays of ice, depositing the cubes in an insulated container. Quart-sized freezer bags are labeled with the year and set aside. A large stainless steel bowl is pulled from the cupboard and placed on the table.
Once the water starts boiling, I use tongs to deposit six ears into the water. They must be FULLY immersed, not popping out of the pot. I begin the timer. How many ears of corn you can blanche depends on the size of your pot. Do NOT overblanch or underblanch. Start counting your time as soon as the cobs enter the water.
- For small ears, blanch for 7 minutes;
- for medium-size ears, blanch for 9-minutes;
- for large ears, blanch for 11 minutes.
I fill the large stainless-steel bowl half with cold water and throw in eight or nine ice cubes to make it colder. It must be very icy cold!
When the timer dings, I pull the ears from the hot water and plunge them into the iced water to halt the cooking process. Immerse the ears in the ice water.
The general rule is: Immerse in icy water the same amount of time they were in the boiling water.
Slice the Kernels from the Cob (or Don’t)
Once the corn has cooled, I place the ears on the tray. Using a sharp knife, I cut the kernels from the cobs into a bowl, just running the knife down the sides. It’s messy! Try to get as many of the kernels off a you can. If you can do this job outside, even better for clean-up!
Freezing the Corn
When you have a big pile of kernels, scoop it into zip-top freezer bags (generally 3 or 4 ears fills a quart), pat them flat (to remove air and so that they will stack easily) and seal the bag. Another trick—place a straw inside the bag, seal it mostly up, suck out the extra air and seal quickly.
Label with the date. Put in freezer in single layers so the corn freezes quickly.
Image: Freeze the corn in freezer bags, removing as much air as possible.
Doing this twice a summer gives me about 16 quarts which is plenty for my use during the winter. You can use ¼ of the bag, or ½, or the whole thing.
The corn can be stored in the freezer for up to 6 months.
Sweet corn is wonderful in soups, stews, and stir fries—or, as a scrumptious side. You can also fold the corn into muffins or corn bread, make salsa, or turn into creamed corn.
We can’t talk about sweet corn without leaving you with some delicious recipes! Here are a few: