How to freeze corn for your winter food supply

I am big on bagging up corn in the summer and freezing it to enjoy when the weather is colder. When I was younger my grandmother froze corn every year and we always enjoyed it at Thanksgiving. There is nothing quite like the taste of home-frozen corn. When I got old enough to help, grandma put me to work in the kitchen and we worked side by side to get it done. Nowadays she’s not freezing corn, but I am. I’ll show you how.

I’ll start with the tips.

Tips for Freezing Corn

Once the corn is bagged and in the freezer, the biggest thing to worry about is freezer burn. To avoid it, remove as much of the air from each bag as possible & store your corn in a chest freezer that is opened only occasionally. Don’t let it thaw and re-freeze.

You can freeze as few ears or as many as you would like.

Buy a bag of ice from the store for your ice water bath. If you want to do it right, you’ll go through a lot of ice.

This can be a really messy, steamy activity or it can be easy. I have found that if I am careful about working with small batches of 4 ears at a time, if I am careful to drain off extra water when taking the ears out of the boiling water and out of the ice water, it works much better. Dry it before you cut it. Putting the cutting board in a large, flat container helps to contain the kernels that want to fly around the room. Bagging the corn as I go, rather than letting it pile up, works well.

The Process

Shuck your corn, removing as much silk as possible, and all of the handles. (or whatever you call them – we leave the hard stalk part on when we eat it on the cob, and it serves as a handle)

Get ready:

  • A stockpot in which you will boil several cups of water and add ears of corn
  • A container of water that holds a few cups (keep this handy and off to the side if you are processing more than a dozen ears)
  • A big bowl with ice and water, in which to put the ears of corn after they are boiled
  • A flat container/baking sheet with a towel for drying the ears after they cool in the ice water bath
  • Another flat container/baking sheet that will fit a cutting board, where you will cut the kernels off the corn
  • A big bowl/container to hold ears of corn after they have dried and before they are cut
  • A sharp knife
  • Tongs
  • Bags for packing up the corn kernels (this year I am using the Ziploc Vacuum Sealer. One of these days I will stumble upon a heavy duty vacuum sealer at a yard sale and I will buy it immediately.)

The Steps:

Boil enough water to cover a few ears of corn completely. I blanch 4 ears at a time. If you’re processing more than a dozen ears you will probably add more water as it evaporates and the level in the pot drops. Keep your container with a few extra cups of water handy.

Fill your big bowl with half ice, half water.

When the water is boiling on the stove, add a few ears (I do 4 at a time). This is called “blanching”. When the last ear of the batch goes in, set the timer for 5 minutes. When it goes off, remove the ears one at a time with the tongs. Hold them on end, pointy end down, and let the hot water drain from the ear into the pot. Don’t skip this step! The less hot water you add to your ice bath, the longer your ice will last.

Immediately put the ear of corn into the ice bath, and continue the process with the remaining ears. Add more ice and drain off warm water from the ice water bath as needed.

Some ears are in the ice bath, and now the boiling water pot is ready for a few more ears. Put them in, turn the timer to 5 minutes, and let them blanch.

When the timer reads 2 minutes, take your cold ears from the ice bath, draining the water back into the ice water bowl, and place them on the towel to dry.

The timer is going off! Move the ears from the boiling water to the ice bath. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

Back at the drying station: now the ears that are on the towel are drying. One at a time, cut the kernels off each ear by holding the ear pointy end up (handle side down) on the cutting board, and cutting straight down the rows. I make 5 cuts around each ear of corn.

At this point, corn is now everywhere. It’s on the floor too. Don’t worry, just clean it up later. I use my 9 x 13 Pyrex with a small cutting board to cut the kernels off. Cut enough so that you can stop and fill up a bag or two. Seal the bags and get them ready for transport to your freezer.

To sum it up:

  1. Blanch
  2. Cool
  3. Dry
  4. Cut
  5. Bag

Now that I’ve told you how to do all of this, I will say that some people just cut the kernels off raw corn cobs and freeze them. I have never tried it, but I think I might.

To heat the corn when you want to use it in November you can take it out of the bag and put it on the stove in a little water and cook until it’s heated through.

Or add it frozen to Tortilla Soup.


2 Responses to How to freeze corn for your winter food supply

  1. Shawna September 14, 2012 at 4:44 pm #

    About 5 years ago a good friend of mine suggested putting the corn in the dishwashwer instead of blanching. I’ve done it that way ever since and it works beautifully. You just load the racks with the ears of husked corn and run through a cycle (no soap of course). The hot water and steam end up blanching the corn to just the right level and then I remove them from the dishwasher, cut off the cob, bag and freeze. No more standing over a hot stove to blanch the corn :)

  2. Mama Jillian September 15, 2012 at 2:14 am #

    Shawna that is just about the weirdest thing I have ever heard of but I will take your word for it! Anything that makes food prep easier is a WIN in my opinion! OK, do you do a quick rinse? Heated dry? How do you do it exactly?

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