Fresh Corn Storage
Summer-golden corn is one of nature’s sweet gifts of the season. We all know how freshly picked and cooked corn, slathered with butter and a little salt, can be more flavorful and satisfying than many desserts. Like most vegetables, corn is best when it’s as close to just-picked as possible.
Ideally, fresh corn should be eaten the same day it is purchased. That’s because once picked, the natural sugars in the kernels begin to convert to starch, which lessens corn’s sweetness. If you buy corn and plan to eat it the same day, it’s fine to put it aside at room temperature with the husks on. Keeping the husk on the cobs helps to slow the drying-out that occurs once corn kernels are exposed.
If you’re planning to eat the corn in the next day or two, immediately put the unhusked, loose ears into your refrigerator to keep them fresh. Coldness slows down the sugar-to-starch conversion process. If the ears are shucked, place them into a plastic bag, such as a produce bag from the supermarket, and store them in your refrigerator.
Either way, fresh corn should be eaten within a couple days. Otherwise, it becomes dried out and less sweet. If eating your corn that soon isn’t possible, consider freezing it. Freezing corn is fairly simple way to prolong this delicious summer food.
Freezing Fresh Corn
There are a couple different ways to freeze corn according to your preference:
Shuck and Freeze – The easiest was is simply to shuck the ears, remove the silk and place the ears into appropriately sized freezer bags. Try using a produce brush under running water to help you get all the silk off the corn ears. Remove any excess air from your bags of corn, label with the date and put in your freezer.
Blanch and Freeze – Another freezing method requires the extra step of blanching the ears before storing them. Blanching slows down the enzymatic reactions inside the kernels that result in loss of flavor, color and texture. Pay attention to the timing if you’re blanching corn, though, because underblanching actually stimulates enzyme action and causes more loss of vegetable integrity than if you hadn’t blanched at all.
To blanch corn, bring a large pot of water to a boil and drop the shucked, clean ears into it without crowding. The blanching starts immediately, even if the ears themselves bring the water temperature down to less than boiling. Let the ears remain in the pot for six to ten minutes, depending on the size of the ears. Promptly remove the ears with tongs and place them into a tub or sink filled with ice water. After they’re cool, take them out and set them on a dry surface. The ears should be fully dry before you place them into freezer bags without excess air, and then put the bags in your freezer.
Freezing Cut Kernels
Cut corn is marvelous in all sorts of recipes, like Baked Sweet Corn Croquettes, Zucchini and Sweet Corn Souffle or Jalapeno Buttermilk Cornbread. To freeze cut kernels, cut them off the cob first by standing the cob upright on a cutting board and slicing downward with a sharp knife. To squeeze the sweet “milk” out of the cob, go back over it with the back side of the knife. Put the cut kernels with juice into freezer bags, eliminating as much air as possible, and freeze them flat.
You can also blanch the corn as described above before cutting the kernels off the cob and freezing them in the same way. Just make sure the blanched corn cobs are completely dry before you cut the kernels off.