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Can You Successfully Freeze Corn without Blanching It?

Can you take fresh corn on the cob from the garden, cut it off the cob, and freeze it in a food-saver bag without blanching?

Here's the deal with corn: enzymes* rule.

In this case, certain enzymes kick in right after you cut the ear from the stalk (of if you just leave the ear on the stalk too long), and begin converting the sugars that make corn taste good to starch, which we either perceive as having no flavor or the flavor of animal fodder. Over the years, farmers and food technologists have developed strains of corn with higher levels of sugar — sometimes six or seven times as much as traditional varieties — so that they taste much sweeter initially, and still satisfyingly sweet after days in transit or days in the refrigerator (as long as it's kept within reason).

Enzymes generally become inactive or unstable above 122F (50C). They slow down in the bitter cold of your freezer, but — and this is the place to pay attention — they do not cease their labors. So if you do not blanch corn before freezing, it will continue to lose it sweetness and flavor. If you know that your corn is a "sugar-enhanced" or a "supersweet" variety, and if it has not been days since it was harvested, you may well be satisfied with unblanched frozen corn. Some of the sugar may have converted to starch in your freezer, but it may still be delicious.

We know people who freeze their corn without blanching, and are perfectly happy with it. They probably eat it within about two or three months of freezing. If you blanch your corn — and it was a flavorful sweet corn to start with — you can probably freeze it for as long as ten months, allowing you to have corn on the cob available pretty much throughout the year.

The bottom line is, you are more likely to enjoy your frozen corn if you blanch it first.

You can freeze corn without blanching it, in or out of the husk, on or off of the cob. If you want to keep the husk, remove the tough outer leaves, peel back the inner leaves to remove the silks, and rewrap the inner leaves. We are not aware of any advantage to keeping the husks.

*(Enzymes are the little proteins that cause or speed up chemical reactions.)

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All About Corn
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