Having just frozen (or canned) more than 100 cobs of fresh corn, I feel somewhat qualified to share some expert opinions on the subjects of removing kernels from the cob and freezing corn.
Thanks to our friend Farmer Denny, my kids partook in one of the great opportunities I had as a kid: Picking sweet corn at its peak of ripeness and eating it right there in the field. That’s right. No cooking; it’s so sweet!
Well, we went a little overboard and picked A LOT. I had lots of recipes planned: Corn and Crab Dip, Corn Salsa, Corn Fritters, Sweet Corn ice cream (this is CRAZY-good ice cream – you MUST try!)…but I knew I wanted to freeze some while it was still fresh.
Previously, I’ve used frozen corn from the supermarket in lots of dishes throughout the year; I toss a handful in: Chili, scrambled eggs, soups, tacos, whatever. So I knew I wanted to have individually frozen corn kernels, NOT one big solid package of 4 cups of corn (like this bag we were given last year and never found practical to defrost and eat all at once.)
So here’s how to freeze fresh corn so it’s individually quick-frozen:
1. Husk and cook within a day of picking. The longer the corn ‘ripens’ on or off the plant, the more the sweet sugar turns to starch (the opposite of ripening fruits.)
2. Cook whole cobs by blanching: Bring water to a boil in a large kettle (I used my big Ball canning pot to cook up to 18 cobs at a time!) Add corn and cook for 7 minutes (after corn hits water.) Remove corn and cool.
3. Do all the cooking at once and then refrigerate the corn in plastic bags so you can freeze over the next few days if time is too short on the day it’s cooked. It must be completely chilled before freezing to avoid freezer burned corn.
4. Remove kernels. I researched the best tool for stripping the kernels at a local kitchen supply store; options included the Kuhn Rikon Corn Stripper ($15.99) which is probably the safest option, the Zylizz Corn Stripper ($8.99) which I purchased and works great for my 5 year old without front teeth to strip their own kernels! – but is too tedious for a large job.
I found my good old electric knife was the fastest and produced long uniform strips of kernels. Use a smaller cutting board inside a baking sheet with sides to catch the shower of kernels. (Reserve all the corn cobs to scrape later to remove the sweet corn ‘milk.’)
5. Roughly break apart strips of kernels and place kernels on a parchment paper/waxed paper lined sheet pan. Freeze for about an hour. Then place frozen kernels in a zip-top plastic bag, squeeze out as much air as possible and freeze.
6. While the trays of corn are freezing, take a sharp knife and scrape the sharp side down the length of the cob to remove the ‘milk’ and the remaining kernels. Freeze separately from the individually frozen kernel. Use in soups, stews, corn puddings and other dishes where you can unthaw a block of frozen corn.
7. Don’t forget to freeze a few whole cobs of cooked corn for gnawing on in winter to remember summer days!
8. Last tip: If you make canned Corn Relish, make sure you don’t cut the sugar. Unfortunately, this dietitian used less sugar and after all the stinkin’ work of canning, the relish is almost too pucker-y to eat!
Have you ever eaten corn raw right of the cob? Isn’t it the best?! Please share!