Not ONLY are you going to learn how to freeze fresh corn on the cob, you're going to learn how to do it so it still has a good crunch when you bite into it in the middle of winter. That's right - frozen corn on the cob that isn't mushy.
If you haven't tried freezing whole corn on the cob before you're probably just casually reading this sentence. If you HAVE tried freezing whole cobs of corn before you are currently spinning like a border collie on uppers.
Frozen corn on the cob that isn't MUSHY is the unicorn of the preserving world. It's a known thing. Don't believe me? The world corn is literally in the word unicorn.
Everyone says it can be done, but when you try it the results are more donkey than unicorn.
Since I grow corn and have a habit of trying to preserve most of the food I grow, I've been trying to freeze it for years. THIS is the first year I think I have the method down.
I don't like canned corn the same way I like canned green beans. Otherwise I would just can the kernels - which I've done in the past. But picking up a forkful of loose kernels just isn't the same as biting into a full cob.
Just ask anyone with dentures.
There are 4 main rules when it comes to success with freezing corn.
Table of Contents
- The corn MUST be picked within hours of processing it.
- The corn MUST be blanched.
- The corn MUST be cooled and frozen quickly.
- Cook from frozen.
MUST MUST MUST
If you fail on any one of those things you'll be dealing with donkey cobs.
How to freeze corn
- Buy your corn from a farm stand and make SURE it was picked that day. Corn starts to degrade within hours of picking it. The natural sugars in each kernel start converting to starch within a couple of hours after picking it. So, the longer it sits the less sweet and more sticky/gummy/tough it becomes.
Once you've bought your fresh corn the processing begins - immediately.
- Get a large pot of water boiling. DON'T add salt.
- Shuck all your corn.
- To blanch your corn, add it to the pot of boiling water, and cook for 9 minutes. I know that sounds like a long time (compared to the 3 minutes you're probably used to cooking corn) but trust me on this. 9 minutes.
4. After 9 minutes remove the corn from the boiling water and place it in a pot of ice water for 9 minutes to quickly chill it.
5. Lay your cobs onto paper towels or a clean dish cloth and pat to dry. The corn needs to be completely dry with no moisture.
6. Cover with a dry cloth and leave it a few minutes to doubly make sure it's dry.
7. If you have a Foodsaver, seal your corn in bags right away, making sure the kernels don't squish and you get a good seal. (If you don't have a Foodsaver put the corn in a freezer bag, press all the air out that you can then use a straw to suck any remaining air out.
Hint: To help keep my ice water icy when I remove my corn from the boiling water I run each cob under a cold tap for a few seconds. Then I put it in the ice bath. This takes some of the initial heat away and keeps your ice bath colder.
On that cold winter night, with snow flying and mittens melting into the sink, pull your summer corn out of the freezer and heat it in simmering water from frozen until it's warmed through.
- If you have a Foodsaver you can drop the corn still sealed in the bag into a pot of simmering water to heat up. Foodsaver bags are safe to simmer in.
- If you froze in a freezer bag, remove the corn and drop into a pot of simmering or boiling water to heat up.
Incredible. As you maybe heard in the video, after being frozen the corn retained crunch and sweetness.
Was it as good as fresh picked corn? No. Don't be ridiculous. Nothing is as good as fresh picked corn, but it really wasn't that far off.
If I had served it to someone they never would have known it had been frozen. And that's the goal.
Like I mentioned, 9 minutes seems like a long time to blanch, but that's what you need to do to help guarantee the enzymes in the corn have been rendered as inactive as possible.
It's those enzymes that ripen the corn. It's those enzymes that immediately start turning sugars to sticky starches when you pick it.
If you don't deactivate the enzymes by blanching, the corn will continue to ripen even while it's in the freezer causing colour loss, nutrient loss and that gross gummy/starchy texture.
So it's those enzymes you want to STOP in their tracks before freezing.
If you still don't believe me you can read this very boring scientific paper on the effects of blanching on corn prior to freezing.
You know when corn is sticky and and starchy and gets glued to your molars? That's what happens when it's old. You can thank active enzymes for that.
If you don't have a vacuum sealer and are on the fence about it I can tell you I've had one for decades and I love it. I use it all the time. If you have a huge family and food doesn't sit in your freezer any longer than a couple of weeks you might not need one, but if there's just one or two of you at home (especially if you have a Costco membership) a Foodsaver really will save your food. This is the one I have - it's the smallest most basic model.
Store the corn in the freezer for up to a year. After that it's still fine to eat, the quality (colour, taste, texture) just degrades the longer it's frozen. It won't go bad, it just won't taste as good.
Well it's not going to kill you if you don't, but you aren't going to like your frozen corn either. Blanching kills the enzyme activity. And enzyme activity is what causes corn to be gummy and tasteless.
Yep. If you aren't afraid of microwaves it does a great job of blanching. It doesn't speed the process up though. You still need to blanch in the microwave on high for 9 minutes. You must also blanch in a Pyrex bowl with a Pyrex dish on top so you don't lose moisture.
Sure, you can also steam blanch corn on the cob instead of boiling it. 9 minutes is still the length of time recommended.
As a matter of fact I can. Read this guide to find out of you're a lunatic based on how you eat your corn on the cob.
I've tried to do this many times over the years but never exactly like this. I blanched for too short a time, or used corn from the grocery store, little things I didn't think would matter that much. They matter.
Freeze corn exactly like this and when you open your freezer in the middle of February you stand a very good chance of coming face to face with a unicorn.