How to Freeze Fresh Corn
Here's how to enjoy the taste of summer all year long.
Eating fresh sweet corn is one of the many joys of summertime in the South. You may enjoy it boiled or grilled, slathered in melted butter and topped with herbs and seasonings, or you may like to cook fresh corn kernels into a pan of succotash or old-fashioned creamed corn. Some savvy cooks go a step further and use sweet corn in desserts, such as these cool and creamy Corn Custards with Berry Compote. Once you get fresh corn home from the market, it is important to refrigerate immediately and use as soon as possible. The longer an ear of corn sits, the more its natural sugars turn to starch, which means you lose a lot of that sweet, fresh taste. If you don't cook your fresh picked corn within a day or so, consider freezing corn, either on the cob or cut. That way you can enjoy the taste of summer even in the cold winter months. Here are three ways to freeze fresh corn.
Freeze Unblanched Corn
Whole Ears of Corn: Many home cooks like the ease of simply shucking, silking, and packaging whole ears of corn for the freezer, and this is probably the easiest and quickest method to preserve your summer corn. Simply shuck, add to appropriately-sized freezer bags, remove air, label, and freeze. Even frozen fresh ears taste better than store-bought frozen ears.
Cut Kernels: It isn't as easy to cut kernels from thawed ears of corn, however, so if you want to "put up" unblanched corn to be used in skillet corn or corn pudding, cut the kernels off the cob before freezing. To do this, stand corn upright on a large cutting board. Using a sharp knife, cut straight down across the base of the kernels. Go back over the cob with the back side of the knife to extract the sweet corn "milk." Get cup measurements as you package the kernels, notate the amount on the freezer bag and the date you froze the corn. Place bags in the freezer in single layers to allow the corn to freeze completely. Once frozen, you can stack the bags to make the most of freezer storage space.
Freeze Blanched Corn
Blanching is a process where fruits and vegetables are plunged into boiling water briefly, then placed in cold water (sometimes called a water bath) to stop the cooking process. Blanching is often used to loosen the peel of tomatoes and peaches, making it easier to peel them. Blanching also works to heighten and set the color and flavor when freezing produce.
How to Blanch Corn on the Cob: Bring a pot filled with water to a rolling boil, add ears of corn (do not crowd in the pot) and blanch from 6 to 10 minutes, depending on the diameter of the ears. Blanching starts as soon as you drop the corn in the pot; you do not need to wait for the water to reach the boiling stage again. Remove the cobs with tongs and place them into a bowl or sink filled with ice water. Once cooled, set the corn on paper towels, a cutting board or a cooling rack and let dry.
WATCH: You're Probably Boiling Corn the Wrong Way
Freeze Whole Ears of Blanched Corn: After blanching, make sure the cooled ears of corn are completely free of water droplets, package them in freezer-safe plastic bags, remove excess air and store in freezer.
Freeze Cut Kernels of Blanched Corn: If you want to freeze blanched cut kernels, follow the cutting and freezing directions for unblanched corn; just make sure the blanched ears are cooled and dry.
Don't throw away those corncobs! There is still delicious flavor to be found, even once the corn kernels are gone. Make a pot of Corn Broth and use it in place of chicken or vegetable stock. If you don't have enough cobs to make a batch, just freeze them until you have more cobs.