How to Freeze Sweet Corn Kernels & Cream-Style Corn - Recipe

If I had known how easy it is to freeze corn, I would have done it more of it. Perhaps I still will. A lovely co-worker brought in dozens of ears of sweet corn she grew to share. Today I processed all 12 ears I brought home. It will be wonderful this fall and winter. I can't wait to use it in these recipes: Balsamic Corn and Black Bean SaladSweet Corn Chowder, Santa Fe Roasted Corn and Black Bean Soup, and Scalloped Corn (I haven't done a recipe for this one, but I should.)

Since I have never frozen sweet corn before, I turned to my trusty Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving and found simple illustrated step-by-step instructions. I'll show you what I learned below.

It took about 45 minutes to process a dozen ears which yielded three pints. If I had more corn, I would have just kept going. We can eat about four cups of corn a month for an optimum amount of 32 cups (16 pints) for the year. That's five more dozen ears of corn to freeze. I'll let you know if I get around to it. 

What's the best sweet corn to freeze?

Super fresh, perfectly ripe corn will be the sweetest. Choose corn that was picked in the morning (when it is coolest) and then kept refrigerated. Ideally you'll process it the same day it was harvested. The longer you wait the more the corn metabolizes the sugar and the less sweet and tender your frozen corn will be.

How do you know if your corn is perfectly ripe?

When the price at the farm stand or farmer's market is the cheapest is a good sign that sweet corn is at its peak ripeness in your area. The silk at the top of the ear is brown and the ear should look plump and full. When you peel the husk off the corn it should squeak. The kernels will be shiny, tight and the ear should have full kernels from base to at least 2/3s the way up. Use your finger nail to puncture a likely kernel; it should squirt milky juice at you. If the juice is clear it is too early. If the kernel is leathery and the juice doesn't squirt the ear is old. And of course taste, the corn should be sweet and tender even without cooking. Just take a little nibble to check it out.
What You'll Need:
  • Containers for Freezing
    I have reusable plastic containers that I picked up at a church rummage sale a couple years back. You could also use glass canning jars or plastic freezer bags. Make sure they are moisture and vapor-resistant.
  • Big Pot for Boiling Water
    A ten-quart pot would be ideal for blanching corn on the cob. I used an eight-quart and I was able to do five ears at a time.
  • Tongs
    For getting the hot ears out of the boiling water a pair of good grippy tongs is useful.
  • Container for Cold Water Bath
    Your sink is probably the easiest; just fill it with cold water. You could also use a big bowl or tub. It needs to hold at least eight-quarts. 
  • Sharp Knife and Cutting Board
    I used an eight-inch chef knife and it worked perfectly. A big cutting board is best as the corn tends to squirt sweet juice when cut. Afterwards, I wished I cut the corn off the ear outside. Then I wouldn't have had to wash the floor under the area I was working.
  • Labeling Accoutrements
    A permanent marker to write what and when on your container. I needed masking tape as well to help hold the plastic lids on my containers and plastic wrap to make sure the containers were air-tight. Did I mention I got old plastic containers at a church rummage sale?
How to Freeze Sweet Corn Kernels and Cream-Style Corn:
  1. Obtain Fresh Sweet Corn
    Select the best corn on the cob you can get your hands on. See above for tips. Shuck the corn, trim the ears and remove the silk. Rinse the corn.
  2. Prepare Containers and Boiling Water
    Get your freezer containers out and make sure they are clean and ready to use. Start 6-8 quarts of water boiling on the stove. Fill the cold water bath with at least 6 quarts of water.
  3. Blanch the Corn
    Submerge the ears in the boiling water. Do not over crowd them. I was able to get 5 ears in my 8-quart pot. Depending on the size of the ear, boil for 6-10 minutes. The corn will turn a brighter yellow.
    1 1/2 inch diameter corn - 6 minutes
    2 inch diameter corn - 8 minutes
    2 inch plus diameter corn - 10 minutes
  4. Cold Water Bath
    Use tongs to pull the corn out of the boiling water and put it directly into the cold water bath for the same amount of time you blanched it. Remove the ears from the cold water and let drain.
  5. Cut Kernels From the Cob
    Start by either cutting the very tip or the bottom off the ear so you have a nice flat stable end as you slice the kernels off vertically. If you want cream-style corn, after your cut the kernels off, use the back side of the knife to scrape the milk out of the cob. It will be a little messy so consider doing the milking in a shallow bowl or even a 9x13 pan.
  6. Pack Corn into Freezer Containers
    For the kernel corn try, to pack the containers full or remove as much air as you can. For the cream-style corn leave a little bit of space for the liquid to expand as it freezes; a half inch should do it.
  7. Label the Containers
    Use a permanent marker to write what type of corn you just prepared and the date. I also included where the corn came from, as I plan on doing more.
I know lots of families who make a party out of freezing the corn. If you grow your own, it all comes ready at once and there is a very narrow window to process it all. Everyone gathers in the kitchen and takes charge of a step and together they make short work out of the harvest. In fact my Aunt and her family are doing their corn this weekend.

Don't be intimidated by freezing your own corn. It's easy and you'll love having little kernels of summer all winter long.