Dad plants sweet corn for all of us every year, staggered a week or two apart so we have sweet corn for longer. I don’t know exactly how far apart; I’m sure someone will read this and correct me since I seem to get something wrong in every post.
It’s like when there’s a story in the paper that you were part of or know everything about. You read the article, and you find one thing reported incorrectly, then another, and another, and you come away wondering why you bother to believe anything you read or hear on the news ever.
Sweet corn is one vegetable that you want to freeze yourself if you can get hold of some fresh in season, because frozen store-bought just isn’t the same. Now, this isn’t true for all vegetables, as Mom and I concurred the other day. Yes, we talk about this kind of thing. We’re boring. We agreed that green beans, on the other hand, are pretty damn awesome frozen from the store. But sweet corn? Not so much.
no, she is not high
So get to a farmer’s market or a roadside stand right quick, get yourself some just-picked sweet corn, cajole a partner — you really, really want to do this with a partner — and set aside a few hours to freeze sweet corn.
I drafted my aunt for the job. Which works really well, because I like blanching the corn and she likes cutting it from the cob. Which is the two main jobs involved. She’s got a fancy-schmancy corn-off-the-cob-cutter and I have to say, it’s awesome. I thought it might cut too deep and get that fibrous stuff you can’t chew and then have to hope you’re discreetly spitting it into your napkin, but it’s adjustable.
We spent 2-1/2 hours from start — going out to pick and shuck the corn — to finish, including a quick trip to town to buy ice. This was to package 23 bags worth of 1-2 cups each, from about 40 ears to begin with.
how to freeze sweet corn
For us, approximately 40 ears yielded about 30 cups of cut corn. YMMV.
Before you begin, have the following:
One or two large pots
Two or more 7-pound bags of ice
At least two large bowls
Pint or quart size freezer bags
One cup measuring cup. A funnel comes in handy too
Corn cutter. Not necessary, but quicker and easier than hand-cutting with a knife
Container for used corn cobs
Straw, if not using hand-pump vacuum seal bags
1. Procure sweet corn. Either walk out back and pick some or get some at a farmer’s market or roadside stand. Buy it as fresh as possible.
2. Shuck sweet corn. Wipe away as much silk as possible. Break off the “handle” ends. If your corn is near-organic like mine is (like near beer?), there will be bugs trying to eat all that precious, precious starch. It’s likely the bugs have already made a dent in the tassel end of the corn. Solve that with step 3.
3. Cut off any ends with bugs on them. If an adventurous bug has wandered down mid-ear and begun chomping, cut out the bits where they’ve been. This part squicks me so I let other people do it. If you’re lucky, you’ll have an “other people” of your own to do it for you too.
3.5. Put water on to boil in a very large pot at some point in the shucking process. Now would be a good time.
4. Take the corn inside, and wipe off as much remaining silk as possible. Don’t worry about a bit of silk; stray strands will likely boil off when blanching, and if it doesn’t, well, more fiber for you.
5. Run cold water in a clean sink and add ice. You want the water to be icy cold. I’m anal about this. The purpose is to stop the cooking when you dump the boiling-hot ears of sweet corn in there. Keep it so there is always at least some ice in the water.
6. Dump 3-4 ears of corn into the boiling water. Boil for 5 minutes. Hey, now you’re blanching!
7. After five minutes, pull the hot ears out of the water with tongs, and transfer immediately to the ice bath in the sink. Allow ears to cool for five minutes.
8. While the corn is cooling, add 3-4 more ears to the boiling water. Now you’ve got a system going. One set of corn is blanching while the previous set is cooling.
9. After five minutes in the ice bath, remove ears and stand vertically in a colander so they drain well. Set the colander on a towel on the table where you’ll be removing the kernels from the corncobs.
10. Using a sharp knife or a corn cutter, liberate the kernels from the corncobs, either right over a large bowl, or transfer it to a large bowl when done. Don’t cut too deeply, or you’ll get a lot of unchewable fibrous material. It’s better to err on the side of caution here. If you use a knife, the corn will be more cream-style; if you use a corn cutter, the corn will be shoepeg-style.
11. Continue steps 6 through 10 until all of the corn has been cut from the cob.
12. Using measuring cup (and funnel, if desired — it makes things much less messy), portion cut sweet corn into freezer bags. For pints, put in 1 to 2 cups. For quarts, you can add up to 4 cups. I find that 2 scant cups of corn is a good amount when using it later for things like chili. However, it’s entirely personal preference.
13. Seal bags and remove air from them. If you’ve got the neat hand-pump vacuum seal system sold by Ziploc and probably other companies, you are rocking. If not, grab a straw, stick it in the bag, seal the bag around the straw, and suck as much air out as you can. Quickly remove the straw while closing the seal behind it.
14. Freeze your homemade sweet corn!