Here's a simple method and some handy tips for how to freeze corn, so you can enjoy this sweet vegetable all year long. (Skip to recipe.)
We're into the thick of harvest season, and if you're enjoying the bounty of fruits and vegetables from your garden or the farmers' markets right now you may want to 'put up' some of that abundant produce. I'm busy canning and freezing, drying, jamming, and jellying like crazy. Our kitchen is a hive of preserving activity, with stacks of jars both full and empty piled up on counters, baskets of produce waiting in corners, sticky floors, and bubbling pots crowding the stove. One of my favourite foods to preserve is corn.
I'm not sure if that's because of the fun of picking it in the garden, the satisfaction of slicing those kernels cleanly off the cob, or scraping the milky bits off, or if it's just the delicious pleasure of grabbing a blanched cob of sweet corn out of the pile whenever I get the urge to nibble. I'm not usually hungry for dinner when I've been freezing corn.
When I was growing up, my mom mostly froze our corn whole, on the cobs. It is not quite as crisp as when it is cooked and served fresh, but is still very tasty. We loved having corn on the cob in the winter time. Nowadays, I usually cut my corn off the cobs, though, because I don't have the freezer space to freeze the cobs whole. Growing up, we had two huuuuuge chest freezers: one just for meat and one for fruits and vegetables. I don't have a big hungry farm family to feed, so don't have nearly as much freezer space - even though with one small chest freezer, one upright freezer, and two top-of-fridge freezers, you'd think I should have lots of room. But they always seem to be full, no matter how much I try to get their contents used up. (There are little freezer gremlins at work, I swear, adding stuff whenever I'm not looking.)
Corn is amazingly sweet if you cook it right after picking - the old saying is that you should have the water boiling in the pot before you go to pick the corn for supper. The sugars in corn start converting to starch as soon as it is picked - that's why you don't want to have it laying around for days. It's still tasty, but just won't be as sweet. You need to blanch corn (a quick trip in boiling water) before freezing, in order to deactivate the enzyme that turns those sugars into starch.
Some tasty ways to use your fresh or frozen corn:
- Chili Butter for Corn on the Cob
- Grilled Corn on the Cob with Chipotle Cream
- Sweet Corn Bisque
- Lobster Salad with Charred Corn and Tomatoes
- Sweet Corn Pudding
- Corn Pie
- Creamy Corn and Penne One Pot Pasta Dish
- Shipwreck Slowcooker Casserole
Corn is a vegetable that freezes well, retaining a good texture when frozen. Some years we freeze the corn all in one go - a wheelbarrow piled high full of cobs we've picked, and both Raymond and I doing a work bee to get it done. But this year I've been doing a few dozen cobs every day, and that's working well.
Here's how I do it.
How to Freeze Corn
Shuck the corn: peel off all the husks and get out as much of the silk as you can. Break or cut off any piece of stem that remains.
Fill a large pot about two thirds full of water and bring it to a boil.
Add as many corn cobs as will fit without the water getting too high and that they can mostly be submerged under the water. Keep the temperature on high.
Bring the water back to a boil, then keep it boiling for two minutes.
Prepare a large bowl or pot or a clean sink with cold water. Remove the corn cobs from the boiling water with tongs and immediately put them into the cold water. Leave them in there until cooled, refreshing the water if it gets too warm.
Add your next batch of cobs to the boiling water in the pot and repeat the steps.
Remove the cooled cobs to a bowl or baking sheet to drain. If you plan to freeze some of the cobs whole, they are ready to bag at this point (*see below).
If you are freezing the corn as kernels, continue as follows.
Prepare the cutting area by setting a cutting board inside a shallow rimmed baking sheet. (I know there are nifty tips out there to set the cob onto the center of a bundt pan and cut downwards, letting the kernels fall into the pan, but I don't like to damage my knives by having them occasionally hit down onto the metal of the pan when I get too much in a rush and don't watch what I'm doing.)
To remove the kernels, hold a cob upright (thick end down) on the cutting board and with your other hand, slice downwards cutting off the kernels as close to the cob as you can. Let the kernels fall onto the cutting board and into the pan. Keep rotating the cob and cutting off the kernels until you have them all cut off. The baking sheet will catch most of the loose kernels (though, without fail, you'll have a few errant bad boys flying around the kitchen and sticking in places where they have no business being).
Then, turn your knife around, and using the back (dull) side of the blade, scrape the cobs clean to get all the sweet milky pulp and little hearts of the kernels - the best part of the corn! (Some people call this 'milking the cobs').
As the pan fills up, scoop the cut corn and pulp into a large bowl.
Continue until all the corn is cut. Use your hands to gently squeeze the corn kernels in the bowl and break up any large chunks of kernels that are still stuck together.
Scoop out the amount of corn that is right for your family using a measuring cup, and put it into plastic freezer bags. Try to get as little corn on the inside tops of the bags as possible, as the cut corn is quite sticky with natural sugars. Shake the corn to the bottoms of the bags, squeeze out excess air, and seal them (close the zip top or use twist ties if there's no zip top).
Freeze the bags. If you've done a good job of removing excess air, the corn will be good in the freezer for up to a year.
Alternately, if you have a small amount of corn and wish to freeze the kernels loose so you can remove the desired amount when needed, you can spread the corn kernels in a thin layer onto parchment paper lined baking sheets (with rimmed sides). Set the baking sheets into the freezer and stir the kernels every hour until they are frozen solid. Put the frozen kernels into a heavy duty zip top freezer bag and keep frozen. Remove portions of kernels as you need them. Loose kernels will keep in the freezer for up to 6 months.
To Freeze Whole Corn on the Cob
Corn can also be frozen as whole cobs. Trim the ends off the blanched and cooled corn cobs so there are no pointy bits to puncture the bag when they're frozen. Then just pop the blanched, cooled, and drained corn cobs into freezer bags (as many as needed for your family), squeeze out as much air as possible (or suck it out with a straw), seal the bags, and freeze.
To serve the corn, drop the frozen cobs into a large pot of boiling water, return to a boil, and cook for two minutes. Drain and serve (delicious served with chili butter).
A bounty of corn ready to go into the freezer.
Guten Appetit! Enjoy the fruits of your labours this winter!
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Sigh...you are making so much work for me, haha! Now I have to hit the market again for corn because I've never frozen it before and you have just taken all the mystery of it away so I have no excuse not to enjoy it in the dead of winter now. Plus, I think it would be amazing in a nice thick corn chowder with tea biscuits on the side. BUT it will have to wait for a few days because the next few days are for my Great Aunt Viv's beet relish and her infamous mustard pickles (which feature cucumber and carrots) which I will then courier to New Brunswick. She's 96, totally independent but isnt up to making them any more.
The best part, as you have said, is looking at all of those beautiful jars and knowing the enjoyment that lies within. Thanks for sharing that joy!
I was sitting down, completely pooped after a very busy day in garden and kitchen, when I read your comment and it made me smile (and chuckle out loud). It's funny how once you start canning or preserving you get caught up in this tide of wanting to can everything in sight! I totally get it! All your goodies sound absolutely divine (I bet your aunt sure appreciates your labour of love).
Oh, I could sure go for a bowl of your nice thick corn chowder with tea biscuits - you've got me drooling.
I will be thinking of you canning up a storm (and maybe freezing some corn yet!) on the other side of the country and raise my soup bowl to you. Cheers!
Wow, sure looks good. Whenever I see your food I get hungry.
Too late to eat now.
Love you lots.
Thanks so much for the nice compliment! Sending you a big hug!
Alex Vanden Brand
That corn looks amazing. Can you divulge what variety of seeds you planted to get those beautiful cobs?
Yes, I can divulge, LOL 🙂 It is just seed I bought at the greenhouse, called 'Early Sunglow' by Heritage Seeds (those brown packages). It says it is 'perfect for Canadian short growing seasons'. The cobs are small but it's really tasty and sweet and grew really well this year, produced two cobs on most of the stalks.
Your corn looks delicious. We grew some bicolour corn this year and also have been doing it in small batches. For something different, I roasted some on the BBQ and cut it off the cob to freeze. My mother in-law taught me many years ago that an angel food cake pan works really well to cut corn into. You just place the cobs on the centre hole, cut the kernels off and fill the pan. Works really slick. Enjoy the harvest! You're right, there never seems to be enough freezer space.
Thanks so much, Sherry 🙂 I'm glad to hear the bicolour corn did well up here - I haven't planted it before - I'll have to try some next year! I LOVE corn on the barbecue - it's so good that way. We've been saying if it's nice into October, we want to try some on our firepit yet (it's supposed to be a nice fall, but a long, cold winter - brrrr). It's so rewarding to freeze vegetables for the winter and see them all tucked into the freezer (I swear I have to get it used up more this year so it's not soooo full!) Thanks for stopping by to comment. Wishing you a happy and fruitful harvest, too.
Oh I would love to help 🙂 I enjoy harvesting and preserving food, it was part of my childhood and we always did this work together.
We were able to harvest Zwetschgen at my parent's garden last weekend and I made Zwetschgenmarmelade in my city kitchen. I've got to transfer some of that spirit 😉
Do you have any experience with plastic-free freezing storage? I feel so bad using all those plastic bags and knowing they mostly get used only once. It just seems so wrong to me. We also want to preserve the nature that gives us all this wonderful produce...
As always, all the best to you from Germany - and happy fall! Sina
I would take your help any day! It's always so much more fun to do harvesting and preserving with many hands and chatting and laughter. There is such a satisfying feeling to be putting up the fruits of our summer labours and preparing to nourish us for the winter. Zwetschgenmarmelade sounds wonderful. We can't grow plums in our northern climate, but we had a Zwetschgenbaum in our yard when I was a child in B.C. and I remember stuffing ourselves with those sweet purple plums - so delicious.
Unfortunately, I haven't had much luck with plastic-free freezing. I use small glass jars for freezing small amounts of things, like pesto and sauces. I have tried freezing liquids in large glass jars, but they always crack, even if I don't fill them all the way and leave the lid loose while they freeze. It just happened to me again this summer - I thought I'd try it once more, freezing some beautiful homemade bone broth, and sure enough all three jars cracked and broke, and I had to throw it all out. It was so upsetting. I freeze everything in heavy duty ziptop plastic bags, but I always wash and reuse the bags several times if they don't have holes in them - that's about the best I've been able to do so far. I wish there was some way to freeze without plastic... Sending you happy fall greetings, too! The leaves are starting to turn colour here - it is happening fast!
Thanks, Margaret, for your reply!
Yes, my experience is about the same. Freezing in glass has it's limits. I try to re-use bags as well. I've also made a habit out of re-using the plastic containers of store-bought icecream, they often are surprisingly long-lasting, easily stackable, and keep well both in the freezer and in the dishwasher.
I've recently started to use beeswax wraps for food storage in place of plastic wrap but haven't tried these in the freezer so far.
Fall greetings - it's finally raining over here, yay! The summer was too dry (again).