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Freezing Sweet Corn

This article was originally published on July 19, 2007 and expired on September 30, 2007. It is provided here for archival purposes and may contain dated information.

Delicious Illinois-grown sweet corn is often frozen to enjoy later in the year. According to Jananne Finck, University of Illinois Extension nutrition and wellness educator, Springfield Center, freezing sweet corn is easy to do but requires a few key steps to maintain quality.

Information from the National Center for Home Food Preservation (NCHFP), sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), suggests sweet corn should be frozen within 2 to 6 hours after harvest.

University of Illinois Extension and NCHFP recommend blanching corn to inactivate the enzymes, resulting in better quality frozen food. Blanching also cleans off surface dirt and organisms, brightens the color, reduces enzyme activity that cause color and flavor changes, removes air and softens the texture so vegetables are easier to pack into containers.

To blanch corn, bring one gallon of water to a boil in a large pot with a basket insert and a lid. Put the corn in the blanching basket, and lower into boiling water. Cover with a lid. The water should return to boiling within 1 minute, or you are counting blanching time as soon as the water returns to a boil.

Blanch whole kernel corn for 4 minutes. Cool promptly by placing ears of corn in ice water. Drain and cut kernels from cob at 2/3 of their depth (do not scrape cob).

For cream style corn, blanch ears 4 minutes; cool promptly and drain. Cut kernel tips, and scrape cobs with back of knife to remove the juice and heart of the kernel. (Another option for cream style corn–cut, and scrape corn from cop without blanching. Place cut corn in double boiler, and heat with constant stirring for about 10 minutes or until it thickens; cool by placing pan in ice water.)

Corn-on-the-cob is also blanched. USDA recommends blanching small ears (4 to 6-inches long; 1 1/4-inch or less diameter) for 7 minutes; medium ears (6 to 8 inches long; 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 inches in diameter) for 9 minutes and large ears (8 to 12 inches long; over 1 1/2 inches in diameter) for 11 minutes.

To pack for freezing, pack the corn into rigid plastic freezer containers leaving 1 inch of headspace; or pack into flexible containers, squeeze out air, seal, label and freeze. Corn should be packaged in amounts that can be used in one meal.

When freezing corn, freeze no more than 2 to 3 pounds per cubic foot of freezer capacity in a 24 hour period. This enables the freezer to freeze the food rapidly enough that food spoilage and/or food borne illness microorganisms will not have time to grow.

For more information on freezing corn, visit the NCHFP/USDA website at: www.homefoodpreservation.com. In addition, you may contact your University of Illinois Extension office for more information.

Source: Jananne Finck, Extension Educator, Nutrition and Wellness, finckj@illinois.edu

Pull date: September 30, 2007

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