Our friend Charles grows sweet corn to sell, so I never bother planting it in my own vegetable garden. He always has plenty and it saves valuable garden space at my house. This week, he gave me a call to let me know the corn was ready, so we headed over to gather enough to freeze for the winter. The cultivar he is growing this year is 'Bodacious', a sugar enhanced (se) variety. It isn't as candy-sweet as the super sweets and has a nice corn flavor. It is a local favorite that many people in my area are familiar with.

Corn is easy to freeze and many people simply leave it on the cob to cut down on a step, however, I like to cut mine off because it takes up much less freezer space and you do not have to deal with heating a frozen corn cob up to cook the corn during the winter. We also prefer the cut corn because it is much easier to add to soups, casseroles and to take to family gatherings.

ImageStart with freshly picked corn at it peak. The best flavor and the least starchiness comes from the freshest corn. I've found that 6 dozen is the most I want to deal with at once and if you're a novice at this, less is definitely the way to go. For first-timers, maybe starting with only two dozen is a good idea. You can even freeze just a little at a time and roughly six ears will give you 2 cups of cut kernels. (depending on the size of the ears, your mileage may vary)

Shuck and clean the corn. I've found that a microfiber dish cloth does a great job getting the silks and it helps keep your hands clean too. You can compost the shucks and silks, however the cobs take quite awhile to break down. They will eventually, but it takes awhile. Trim off any ends that show signs of insect damage and add them to the compost material as you go.

ImageAfter your corn is shucked and cleaned, it is time to cut it from the cob. There is a bit of a learning curve here that may take a bit of practice to perfect, so take it slow and don't get frustrated. Use a very sharp knife and make your cut about half way through the kernels. Slide the knife down the corn cob and take several rows of kernels off at once. Work your way around the cob and after you're done, scrape the knife down the cob to milk the rest of the juice out. This is how you make cream-style corn. The less you take off with the initial cut, the more 'cream' you'll have in the finished product. We like our corn with more kernels and less cream, so I take off about three-fourths of the kernel when I cut, but that takes some practice. You don't want to get chunks of the cob with your corn, so take it slow until you get the feel for it. You can always take more as you get comfortable.

ImageI like to blanch my corn before freezing. Blanching is a process where the fruit or vegetable is quickly heated to stop the enzymes from continuing to ripen. The produce is heated through and partially cooked. This gives it a longer shelf-life in the freezer and a better taste overall. I added about a cup of water to my stockpot and set the burner on medium to prevent sticking. This is one instance where you'll need to watch your corn and stir it often. It may even be necessary to add a bit more water, and/or turn your burner down a bit. You want the corn hot through and it should be starting to steam.

ImageYour corn is blanched when it has deepened in color and is hot. It will have a brighter yellow look as opposed to a 'buttery' look. Pour it into a flat pan to cool. I use the broiler pan from my oven. (it rarely sees any broiler duty) It is important for the corn to be completely cool before bagging it up to freeze. Bagging your corn hot results in loss of flavor and flat pans cool faster than deep pans. You might even want to use several pans for quicker cooling. This can take several hours, so be patient. I finished blanching this batch of corn at about 10pm, so just let it sit overnight to cool.

ImageThere are many ways you can package your corn for the freezer. The easiest is the 'zipper type' plastic bags. There are a number of brands and designs, all of which are good. Just make sure that you purchase the ones specifically for freezer use. They are sturdier and designed to keep food fresh in low temperatures. Many of us also have vacuum processors as well, and they are great for freezing vegetables. You might want to freeze your corn in another container, remove the frozen block and then vacuum seal it to cut down on the mess though. There are also reusable plastic freezer boxes that are cost-effective if used over several years, that those of you with large families and gardens may want to invest in as well. Whatever you use, be sure to write the date and amount you put in each container. This small step lets you see at a glance which packages are older (use them first) and how much each holds. This is useful when cooking for a crowd or using your corn in a specific recipe.

ImageAs I fill my bags, I squeeze as much of the air as possible out before sealing and then flatten them. This makes them stackable in the freezer. I place the bags on a cookie sheet to keep them stable and leave them on it until they are firmly frozen. After that, just stack your frozen corn in freezer bins or shelves and admire your work! Frozen corn will keep for a year or so before any noticeable degradation in texture or flavor occurs, so you have a whole season to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Preparing corn this way is easy and you can process just a few ears at a time if you like, or host a 'corn party' for some friends and do up several bushel.