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Tonight I will be cooking and serving cream-style corn I bought from our local farmers market. I also can have this corn months from now thanks to safe food preservation methods.
One problem with preserving sweet corn, though, is that the sweet flavor quickly deteriorates after picking. In response, scientists bred varieties not only for more sweetness but also to hold freshness and flavor longer. These are referred to as “everlasting” varieties.
To ensure flavor, cook and eat corn as soon after picking as possible. If corn must be stored for a short time, keep it cold and at a high humidity in the vegetable drawer of the refrigerator. This helps prevent a tough, starchy-tasting product. Prepare corn for eating or preserving quickly after harvest. At room temperature, harvested ears lose 50 percent of their sugar within 24 hours.
Selecting fresh corn
Look for fresh husks with a bright green color, silk ends free from decay or worm injury and stem ends not too discolored or dried.
Select ears well covered with plump, but not too mature, kernels. Indentations in the top of each kernel are a sign of maturity.
Avoid ears with undeveloped kernels, unusually large kernels, or dark-yellow kernels because they can be tough and not very sweet.
Corn can be canned as whole-kernel or cream-style. Slight differences in preparation can result in very different processing times.
When canning, follow tested recipes to ensure a safe product (the most up-to-date, USDA-tested recipes can be found at the National Center for Home Food Preservation. If you do not have Internet capabilities, call my office for canning information.
Remember you MUST use a pressure canner since corn is a low-acid vegetable.
Select tender, freshly picked corn in the milk stage. If a sweet, milky juice is released from the kernels (milk stage), the corn is ready for harvest. Husk and trim the ears, remove silks and wash.
Corn on the cob: Blanch corn on the cob by immersing the cobs in boiling water. Blanch small ears (1 1/4 inches or less in diameter) for 7 minutes, medium ears (1 1/4 to 1 1/2 inches in diameter) for 9 minutes, and large ears (over 1 1/2 inches in diameter) for 11 minutes. Cool promptly and completely to prevent a “cobby” taste.
Cooking may be stopped quickly by dunking the cobs into ice water. After draining, package the corn and then seal and freeze in plastic containers or plastic bags suitable for freezing.
Whole-kernel corn: Blanch corn on the cob 4 minutes. Cool promptly and drain. Cut kernels from the cob about 2/3 the depth of the kernels. Package the corn, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Squeeze out air, seal and freeze.
Cream-style corn: Blanch 4 minutes. Cool promptly and drain. Cut kernel tips, and scrape the cobs with the back of a knife to remove the juice and the heart of the kernel. Package the corn, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Squeeze out air, seal and freeze.
Storage: Well-packaged frozen corn can be stored up to 9 months at zero F without loss of quality. Containers may be flexible or rigid providing they don’t allow moisture to enter the container and are leakproof, easy to seal and mark on, and designed to protect food from absorbing off-flavors or odors in the freezer.
Adapted from: University of Wyoming Cooperative Extension Service
Debbie Wilburn is county extension agent in family and consumer science with the Hall County Extension. Contact: 770-535-8290.