I love summer corn in the summer. Grilled in its husk, sweet corn is a divine lunch or an unbeatable side with a dinner of, well, anything.
But, I also love summer corn in the winter. I eat sweet summer corn in winter soups and stews and chilies. I sauté corn with peppers and onion and butter for a bright and slight sweet side dish. I mix corn with peppers and cheeses and tomatoes for wintertime enchilada casseroles.
Yes, sweet summer corn is one of my favorite wintertime ingredients.
And, saving it couldn’t be easier.
Really. This is not hard to do.
You will need corn. You will need some way to cook that corn (grill, stove, oven, firepit, solar oven, laser beam… your choice). You will need a pair of hefty thongs. You will need a knife and cutting board. You will need some sort of freezer-safe container. And, you will need a freezer.
First, we cook our corn. For my favorite technique, check out my recipe for Perfect Grilled Corn.
Or, go your own way. I won’t hold it against you.
But, if you’ve got a grill, I encourage you to at least try grilling your corn. It’s worth it.
This is what I had to say on the matter in my recipe for Perfect Grilled Corn:
Why grill corn? Three reasons:
First, cooking on the grill keeps the heat out of the house. And, since corn comes into season about the time summer is at its meanest, keeping heat out of the house is a good thing.
Second, grilling gives corn a smokey sweetness that I especially love. Maybe you prefer the pure corn flavor of boiled sweet corn. That’s fine. We’re all welcome to our opinions. For me, it’s grilled corn. Yum.
Finally, third, grilling corn is just easy. You don’t shuck the corn. You don’t worry about the silk. You don’t clean the ears or fuss about a big pan or worry about spilling boiling water between the stove and the sink. Easy. Easy is good. Especially when easy is also tasty.
Whatever your preferred technique, this is the moment when you will cook your corn. Go ahead and get it started. I’ll wait.
Is your corn cooked? Sweet. Turn of the grill and let the corn cool. If possible, let it cool outside. You can even leave it right on the grill, with the lid up. Assuming you don’t still have live coals under the grill, that is.
Let your corn sit a good long while. Thirty minutes. An hour. There’s no rush. You’ve already cooked it.
Use this time to weed the garden. Or, walk the dog. Or, drink a gin and tonic. Up to you (I suggest the g&t, though the dog disagrees).
Ok. Is your corn cool enough to touch? Good. Let’s shuck!
You can do this outside, if you’ve got a picnic table and less mosquitoes than me. Or, you can do this inside, if you don’t mind the mess and do mind the bugs. Up to you.
Once you’ve shucked your corn, you’re ready to start saving the harvest for winter use.
Grab a cutting board. A big one.
Grab a knife. A sharp and sturdy one.
Grab a freezer-safe container or a plastic freezer bag. A clean one.
Ready? Let’s do this!
Some people have fancy corn husker things that slide down the husk and slice the kernels from the husk in a single go. I’m not one of those people. I’m betting you probably aren’t either. Though, if you are, by all means use that fancy corn husker. That’s what it’s there for.
Easiest way to husk an ear of corn sans husker, I’ve found, is to first cut the ear in half, cross ways. Then, set the half-ear vertically, with the cut end down. Pick up your knife. Starting at the top of the half-ear, slice the knife down the length of the ear, between the kernels and the cob. You want to find that sweet spot between kernel and cob, so you’re removing as much kernel as possible without also cutting into the cob. After a few tries, you’ll figure it out.
Rotate the ear a tiny bit (say, the equivalent of two or three rows of kernels) and repeat. And, repeat. And, repeat.
Keep going until you’ve sliced all the kernels from that half of that first ear. Then, continue with the second half of that first ear. Then, start the second ear. The third…
You get the idea.
A single ear of corn will give you about one cup of cut kernels.
Those kernels add up quickly. As you cut them, add them to your freezer-proof container. This could be a plastic freezer bag, a food storage container or anything else that’ll keep the air out and the corn in. I have used freezer bags and glass food storage containers. Both work great.
Fill up your freezer-proof container with corn. Freeze it. Repeat as necessary until you’ve saved enough corn to make it through the winter (I do this over a course of several weeks, buying about six to twelve ears at a time).
[Oh. And save those cobs, too. Because, check it out: Corn Cob Stock! I haven't made this yet, but I will. How can it not be wonderful?]
When you need corn for winter recipes, you can treat your home-frozen corn like any other frozen corn. Just add it when the recipes calls for it, cook, and enjoy.