Monday, May 11, 2009
Freezing Corn 101
Every year I look forward to my first ear of fresh sweet corn. It's wonderful! Too bad the season for corn is only a few short weeks a year. Freezing freshly harvested corn allows you to preserve it at it's peak of flavor.
In our area farmers are already beginning to harvest the first of this years corn. We came across some very nice sweet corn at a great price and decided to freeze some for the rest of the year. We bought 3 cases that had between 55-75 ears per case. Freezing corn is quite simple, you just need to follow a few basic steps. I took pictures of the process. Here is corn freezing 101:
The first step is to get very fresh sweet corn. If your not picking the corn yourself, try to get corn that was picked within a day or two of when you plan to freeze it. The sugars in the corn begin to turn to starch as soon as it's picked. So the sooner you freeze the corn after its been picked, the more sweetness it will retain. The ears should not be too large. Very large ears are also typically less sweet.
The next step is to husk the corn. This is my least favorite part of the process. Luckily for us my Dad is a husking machine!
After the corn is husked it needs to be cleaned to remove as much of the silk as possible. A very soft vegetable brush works best for this step.
The next step is to blanch the corn. Bring a large stock pot filled about half full with water to a boil. When it boils add as many ears as you can fit making sure they all stay submerged in the water. Adding the corn will stop the boiling process. Place a lid on the pot. Allow the corn to come back to a rapid boil. This may take 10 minutes or more. Keep an eye on the pot because once it reaches a boil the corn is blanched. Remove the corn immediately from the hot water using tongs.Since you will more than likely need to blanch your corn in multiple batches, you will want to save the hot water in your stock pot. This not only conserves water but also greatly shorten the amount of time it takes to bring the water to a boil. You may need to add more water to your pot as you go.
While your waiting for your corn to come to a boil you need to prepare for the next step which is cooling the corn. Fill your sink with cold water. If you have a two compartment sink, fill one side with cold water and the other side with ice water. If you don't have a two compartment sink you can fill a large bowl or tub with the ice water.
Place the corn into the sink filled with cold water. After the corn is blanched it is critical that it is placed immediately into cold water. This will stop the cooking process. You will lose your fresh corn flavor if you allow the corn to cook to much. Next transfer the corn to the ice water and allow it to cool completely.
The next step is cutting the corn from the cob. This is the only step that requires a little skill. After doing a couple of ears, you'll get a feel for how to get the corn without cutting into the cob. A small sharp knife is the important key for this step. A pairing or vegetable knife works best. After you cut off all corn from the cob, turn your knife so that the blade face outward and scrape down the cob. This will remove all the sweet juice and bits of corn that remain on the cob. This step is a bit messy but you'll be getting every bit of your sweet delicious corn off the cob. You will need a large bowl to cut into. I find it works best if I place the bowl in my lap while I cut off the corn. Do whatever feels comfortable to you.
After you finish cutting off the corn from the cobs, scoop the corn into zip lock freezer bags. I used quart sized bags which will hold enough for 4-5 servings. For smaller servings use a pint sized bag. Lay the bag on it's side and flatten out the corn. Press out as much air as possible before closing the bag. Flattening the bag not only helps you to remove the air but it also makes it much easier to stack the corn into your freezer.
Place bags into the freezer and enjoy your sweet corn all year long!
Even the dog got in on the action! She stole three cobs from the tub. All the rest went to some very happy cows!