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Feature Article From Harvest to Health
How to select, store, prepare and preserve a variety of farm-fresh produce


Sweet corn is delicious when prepared on the cob. Without added butter or salt, one ear (approximately 6 inches long) contains 150 calories. It also contributes carbohydrate, a fair amount of Vitamin A (yellow varieties, only), and only a trace of sodium.

Selecting Corn:

High quality corn has tender kernels that are milky and well-developed. Kernels should be large enough to be compact on the cob with no space between the rows. Also, the ear should be filled to the tip with no rows of missing kernels.

Kernels that are too large will be chewy and pasty like dough. They should be just firm enough that slight pressure will puncture the kernel, releasing the milky-white juice. If juice is watery, the sweet corn is not ready. When buying sweet corn in the husk, look for a bright green color, snug husks and dark brown silk.

The keys to "good eating" when it comes to sweet corn are to harvest at peak ripeness and store properly if it can't be eaten right away. However, the sooner it is used, the sweeter it will be! Canning, freezing or drying sweet corn will extend shelf life and provide your family with corn throughout the year.

Using and Preserving Sweet Corn:

Fresh Facts:

  • Eat corn as soon as possible after harvest for maximum sweetness.
  • If sweet corn cannot be eaten right away, leave in husks, remove long shanks and store uncovered in the refrigerator.
  • When refrigerating, cool rapidly to below 40°F to retain sweetness and tenderness because the sugar in corn turns to starch quickly at higher temperatures.
  • For best eating quality, do not store sweet corn in the refrigerator for more than two days. For longer storage, preserve by freezing, canning or drying.

Freezer Facts:

  • Sweet corn can be frozen on the cob or cut off the cob. However, preserving will not improve the quality of the corn, so always start with high quality produce.
  • Only tender, freshly gathered corn in the milk stage should be selected for freezing. Husk and trim the ears, remove silks and wash.
  • Before freezing, corn must be blanched to destroy the enzymes that will cause flavor and color changes during storage.
  • Corn should be packaged in moisture-vapor proof wrapping or containers for freezer storage.
  • Corn can be stored in the freezer at 0°F for about 10 months.
  • Frozen sweet corn may be substituted for fresh or canned corn in most recipes.

Canned Facts:

  • Corn may be canned as whole kernel or cream. However, preserving will not improve the quality of the corn, so always start with high quality produce.
  • Only tender, freshly gathered corn in the milk stage should be selected for canning. Husk and trim the ears, remove silks and wash.
  • For cream-style corn, cut corn from cob at the center of the kernel and scrape cob at about 2/3 the depth of the kernel. Do not scrape the cob.
  • Corn is a low-acid vegetable and must be processed in a pressure canner for safety. Hot packing is the only method recommended for filling jars.
  • Because cream-style corn is thicker than whole kernel corn, it should be canned in pint jars only so that heat can penetrate throughout the product.
  • Whole kernel canned sweet corn may be substituted for fresh or frozen corn in most recipes. Creamed corn should be used in recipes specifically calling for cream-style.

Dried Facts:

  • Select sweet corn to be dried the same as for canning or freezing.
  • For best quality, do not dry corn that has been freshly harvested. Remove husks and silk and wash thoroughly.
  • Blanching is necessary to retain color and flavor of sweet corn during the drying process and storage.
  • Corn will be dry and brittle when moisture is fully removed. Package in moisture-vapor proof containers and store in a cool dry place.
  • Dried corn should be rehydrated, or refreshed, before using in recipes calling for fresh, canned or frozen corn. Drain any water left after rehydration is completed.


Corn Soufflé
2 tablespoons margarine
4 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk*
3/4 cup corn, well-drained
2 tablespoons chopped pimiento or green pepper
3 egg yolks, beaten
3 egg whites, stiffly beaten

Thick White Sauce:
In the top of a double boiler, melt margarine. Add flour and salt, stirring until smooth. Add milk and cook until thick.
*Meat or vegetable broth may be substituted for milk.

Add corn and pepper to hot white sauce. Stir in egg yolks. Remove sauce from heat and fold in egg whites. Pour mixture into an ungreased 1 1/2-quart casserole. Set in pan of hot water and bake at 350°F until firm, approximately 45-60 minutes. Test by inserting a sharp pointed knife in the center-if it comes out clean, the soufflé is done.
Serve at once.
Yield: 4 servings

Corn Curry
3 tablespoons butter or margarine
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons chopped green pepper or pimiento
2 tablespoons chopped onion
2 cups corn, cooked and drained
1/2 cup sour cream

In a skillet, melt butter or margarine over low heat; add curry powder, salt, green pepper or pimiento, and onion. Continue cooking over low heat until pepper and onion are just tender. Stir in sour cream and corn. Continue heating over low heat, stirring constantly, until thoroughly heated.
Yield: 4 servings


Recipes and directions for freezing, canning, and drying sweet corn can be found in the Home Economics Guidesheet Quality for Keeps Series:
GH 1454, Canning Vegetables
GH 1503, Freezing Vegetables
GH 1563, How to Dry Foods at Home
Also, Lincoln University Guide Sheet, Sweet Corn (#EP 220h), Easy Gardening Series.


To order any of the "From Harvest to Health" publications or for more preservation information, please refer to the University of Missouri Extension, Human Environmental Sciences Publications - Food, Nutrition and Fitness section.



Last update: Thursday, June 18, 2009


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