Biting into a juicy, tender-crisp, sweet ear of corn on the cob in the peak of summer is a thing of beauty. But what happens to your remaining corn when the season ends? Freezing corn on the cob is an easy and effective way to preserve the flavor and texture of this summertime favorite.
How to choose the best corn for freezing
To achieve the optimal taste from your frozen corn, it’s essential to select top-quality peak-summer corn, regardless of your freezing technique. Aim for ears that have a substantial weight when held, featuring pristine white silks and a blemish-free husk. Additionally, gently pull back the husks to inspect for any hidden insects or moldy kernels that usually hide out at the tip of the ear of corn.
Freezing corn on the cob
Like freezing zucchini and cabbage, freezing corn on the cob is simple. There are three methods that will prolong the life of your crop, allowing you to enjoy a delicious taste of summer well into the winter months. Follow the easy steps outlined below for perfect frozen corn.
Method 1: Whole Frozen Corn on the Cob
Step 1: Shuck the corn first — that is, remove the green and white husk surrounding the corn on the cob, as well as any strands of corn hair.
Step 2: Add the corn to a pot of salted boiling water in order to blanch the corn. Cook the corn for two to three minutes, then remove with a set of tongs. Submerge in a bowl of ice water. The natural enzymes in corn need to be inactivated before freezing to prevent both loss of color and nutrients along with flavor and texture changes. These enzymes are inactivated by a hot blanch.
Step 3: Remove from the water bath, and let the corn drain and cool. Dry well with paper towels to maintain the corn’s texture as it freezes, then wrap each cob in plastic wrap or parchment paper to avoid freezer burn and place in a freezer-safe bag, removing as much air as possible before sealing. Freeze the whole cob for later use. Freezing each cob individually helps to keep the corn kernels fresh and prevents them from drying out.
I like to use large freezer safe silicone bags such as Stasher bags when freezing corn on the cob.
Alternatively, you can remove the kernels from the cob once they have cooked and cooled, then freeze the corn kernels in a freezer-safe bag.
Method 2: Blanched Corn Kernels
Step 1: In this method, remove the corn from the cob. It’s helpful to hold the corn upright, place it in a bowl, and then cut in a downward motion into the bowl with your kitchen knife. This way, the bowl will catch the kernels as they fall off of the cob.
My Pro Tip
Save the cobs too! You can freeze them the same way until you’re ready to use. They’re a great addition to broths and stocks and make a flavorful base for corn chowder or sweet corn egg drop soup.
Step 2: Then, blanch the corn kernels in salted water for about two minutes. Remove the corn kernels with a spider strainer or strain them in a colander in the sink.
Step 3: Pat the corn dry, let it cool, then freeze it in a freezer bag as above.
Method 3: Unblanched Corn Kernels
Step 1: To freeze fresh corn kernels without blanching them first, cut the corn off of the corn cob and add the kernels to a plastic freezer bag or freezer-safe silicone bag, removing as much air as possible from the bag before storing.
Step 2: Place in the freezer with a label and date for future use. Unblanched frozen corn kernels will last for up to 12 months.
To use, thaw the kernels in their freezer bag in the refrigerator overnight. Or, dump the corn into a strainer and run cold water over the kernels until they’re thawed.
Freezing corn kernels in a raw, unblanched state won’t result in the same texture as fresh, raw corn kernels that pop in your mouth. So while they’re not great for salads or fresh salsas, they do well in soups, chili and skillet meals.
How to reheat and serve frozen corn
Each variety of frozen corn should be treated differently based on its specific freezing method.
Whole frozen corn on the cob
This can be used directly from the freezer. Just boil a pot of water, add the frozen whole corn on the cob, and boil for about five minutes. The corn is ready to eat when a kernel easily ruptures with gentle pressure from the tip of a paring knife.
The corn can be served simply with butter, salt and pepper, or removed from the cob and added to a variety of dishes such as stuffed grilled avocados or turkey chili pie. Like summer wax beans, the corn would also be wonderful garnished with fresh herbs like cilantro or basil.
Blanched frozen corn kernels
Blanched corn kernels can be microwaved on high with a few tablespoons of water for about two minutes, or until heated through. This method can be used for blanched frozen corn kernels that were first cooked on the cob and then removed as well.
This method is closest to the frozen corn you’ll find in the frozen section at the grocery store, which is already cooked and just needs reheating. You can use it as you could fresh cooked corn, in salads, burritos, grain bowls, wraps, salsas, or just as a side dish with a bit of brown butter.
“Frozen corn is a staple we keep in our freezer all year round. It’s incredibly helpful to have for a variety of ways we repurpose leftovers, such as creating burritos and enchiladas with leftover meat. Plus, frozen corn retains more of the nutritional value versus canned!”— Siobhan Borland, Fun Family Meals
Unblanched frozen corn kernels
For unblanched kernels, add them to a pot of salted, boiling water and cook for three to five minutes, or until warmed through.
Fresh corn that’s been frozen using this method will remain fresh for up to 12 months in the freezer, but will not maintain its crisp texture. It’s recommended that this type of corn be used in preparations where the texture will not matter as much, such as soups and stews. Brisket chili and Mexican vegetable soup for instance, are great uses for frozen unblanched kernels.
“In the summer, I like to buy extra corn on the cob from the farmers market. I cut the kernels off and freeze them in bags, which I pull out later for side dishes or to add to my favorite tortilla soup recipe.”— Susannah, Feast + West
While nothing can beat fresh corn on the cob and my favorite summer time treat — sweet corn bacon ice cream, learning how to freeze corn on the cob is a useful skill for enjoying a burst of sweetness in the off-peak season.
Whether freezing corn on the cob whole, blanching corn kernels, or storing corn in the freezer without blanching, the life of this treasured summer crop can be prolonged with a few simple steps.
Be sure to consider the freezing method you’ve chosen when deciding how to prepare the frozen corn. For a whole cob, a simple preparation is easy and delicious. For blanched frozen kernels, a fresh preparation like a salad, salsa or a wrap would be excellent, as this corn will maintain its texture through the freezing process. With unblanched kernels, the texture will be a bit softer, so try to use this type of corn in soups and stews.
How to Freeze Corn on the Cob
- 4 corn on the cob
- plastic wrap or parchment paper
- freezer safe bags
Whole Frozen Corn on the Cob
- Shuck the corn.
- Add the corn to a pot of salted boiling water in order to blanch the corn. Cook the corn for two to three minutes, then remove with a set of tongs.
- Submerge in a bowl of ice water.
- Remove from the water bath, and let the corn drain and cool. Dry well with paper towels, then wrap each cob in plastic wrap or parchment paper and place in a freezer-safe bag, removing as much air as possible before sealing. Freeze the whole cob for later use.
Blanched Corn Kernels
- Slice the corn off the cob using a sharp knife over a bowl.
- Blanch the corn kernels in boiling salted water for about two minutes. Remove the corn kernels with a strainer and drain.
- Pat the corn dry, let it cool, then freeze it in a freezer bag.
Unblanched Corn Kernels
- Cut the corn off of the corn cob and add the kernels to a freezer bag, removing as much air as possible from the bag before storing.
- Place in the freezer with a label and date for future use. Unblanched frozen corn kernels will last for up to 12 months.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
This article originally appeared on Food Drink Life.
Gina Matsoukas is an AP syndicated writer. She is the founder, photographer and recipe developer of Running to the Kitchen — a food website focused on providing healthy, wholesome recipes using fresh and seasonal ingredients. Her work has been featured in numerous media outlets both digital and print, including MSN, Huffington post, Buzzfeed, Women’s Health and Food Network.