Freshly picked ears of corn are sweet, tender, and delicious. Take advantage of the late summer harvest of local corn and preserve it to enjoy all year. Learn how to can corn into shelf-stable jars for your pantry food storage.
Canned corn will come in handy for winter meals and can be used in so many ways, including tossed in salads, added to soups, stews, and chills, and simply buttered and served as a side dish.
We don’t grow corn because it takes up a lot of space in the garden. Instead, we rely on our local roadside farm stands to purchase corn for preserving. I love seeing the roadside signs announcing, “CORN!”
Most often, these stands are unmanned and rely on the honor system. You can clearly see the freshly harvested corn piled up on a table from the road. I gather what I need, and slip cash into the pay box attached to the stand.
Tips for Canning Corn
Select freshly harvested corn from your local farm stands or farmers’ market. Try to process within a day or two of harvesting. As with all preserving methods, the quicker you can preserve it, the better quality it will be.
Use a Pressure Canner
Corn is a low acid vegetable and can only be canned safely using a pressure canner. The canner I use is a Presto 16-quart aluminum pressure canner. It holds a canner load of 9-pint or 7-quart size jars.
Choose the Best Corn for Canning
You will need about 20 pounds of corn on the cob in their husks for a full canner load of 9 pint sized jars, and 32 pounds for a canner load of 7-quart jars.
Corn Varieties for Preserving
Some corn varieties are better for canning than others. Sweet corn is roughly divided into three distinct types according to genetic background: normal sugary (SU), sugary enhancer (SE) and supersweet (Sh2).
For canning, look for normal sugary (SU) and sugar enhanced (SE) varieties. Bodacious and Incredible are good extra-sweet yellow varieties. Temptation, Delectable, and Providence are good extra-sweet bicolor varieties. Silver King and Whiteout are extra-sweet white varieties.
The supersweet (Sh2) corn varieties tend to brown when canned due to the sugar levels and may also result in tough kernels when processed. These are best eaten fresh.
How to Select Good Quality Ears
The best way to select corn is to peel back the husk and take a peek. However, this ruins the corn for the other customers. Instead follow these tips to select the best fresh corn for canning:
- Look at the Tassels: The corn silks at the top of the cob should be yellowish-brown, tacky, and smell fresh. The corn is older if the tassels are black, mushy, or dry.
- Examine the Husk: Freshly harvested corn will have bright green blemish free husks that wrap the ear firmly. Dried layers indicate the corn has been off the stock for a while, and holes in the husk may reveal insect damage.
- Feel the Ear: Gently squeeze the corn to see if it is solid. Run your fingers from the top to the bottom. The ear should feel firm when squeezed and the kernels evenly formed. Avoid cobs that have soft spots or areas where kernels are missing.
Steps for Pressure Canning Whole Kernel Corn
If you are new to canning or haven’t canned in a while, it may be helpful to review this article on pressure canning at the National Center for Home Food Preservation website.
A more detailed and printable recipe can be found at the bottom of this article, but these are the general steps for pressure canning whole kernel corn:
Step 1: Gather the Canning Gear
- Pressure canner
- 9 pint sized canning jars or 7 quart sized canning jars
- Canning lids and bands
- Canning tools: lid lifter, jar lifter, canning ladle, funnel, and bubble popper
- Plus basic kitchen supplies such as a large pot, large prep bowls, tongs, knife, cutting board, small pot, and kitchen towels.
Step 2: Prepare the Canning Equipment
Wash the canning jars and lids with warm, soapy water and rinse well under running water.
Place the canning rack into the pressure canner, and place the canner on the stove. Fill the canner and jars part way with water, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-high and boil the jars for 10 minutes to sterilize and warm up the canner.
Warm your lids in a small pot of water over low heat. Keep everything warm until you are ready to can.
Step 3: Prepare the Corn
Husk the corn, remove silk, and rinse well under clean running water. Air dry on kitchen towels.
Blanching the corn makes it easier to cut the kernels from the cob. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat, and fill a large bowl with ice water. Once the water boils, drop several cobs into the pot and blanch for 3 minutes. Remove the corn and plunge into ice water to stop the cooking process. Remove the cob from the ice water and place on clean kitchen towels. Repeat until all the corn is blanched.
Cut the kernels off the cob without going too deep. Scraping the cob will add a lot of starch that will make your canned corn cloudy. Instead, try to cut about three-fourths the depth of the kernel from the cob using a sharp knife.
I find the easiest way to do this is to trim off the pointy tip of the corn, and position it on the bottom of a large bowl slightly tilted towards you. While holding firmly at the stem end, carefully run the knife down the cob, slicing away from you towards the bowl. The kernels will fall into the bowl. Twist the cob and continue slicing until all the kernels are removed from the cob.
Step 4: Can the Corn
Fill a large pot with clean water and bring it to a boil over high heat. This will be the water you will be using to fill your jars.
Fill the jars loosely with raw kernels, leaving a 1-inch headspace. Don’t shake, press down, or compress the corn. You want the individual kernels to be free to move around when processed in the canner. Add salt, if desired for flavor.
Add fresh boiling water, maintaining 1-inch headspace. Try to aim for about 1/4-inch of water over the corn. This seems to help prevent liquid from siphoning out.
Run the bubble popper through the jars to remove air bubbles, clean the rims, cover, and place the jars into the pressure canner. Process the jars according to the instructions for your canner for the proper times indicated below.
Let the canner cool, remove the jars, and let them cool completely. Wash the jars with soapy water, label, date, and store the jars of canned corn in a cool location. Use within 12-18 months.
To use, empty the jar into a saucepan and heat on the stove. Adjust seasonings to taste and serve. Or drain and add to your favorite recipes. Here are a few to try:
- Creamy New England Fish Chowder
- Homemade Turkey Noodle Soup
- Tomato and Corn Salsa Recipe
- Crockpot White Bean Chicken Chili
How to Can Corn for Food Storage
- sweet corn in the husk
- canning salt optional
Prepare your canning jars and lids:
- Wash the canning jars and lids with warm, soapy water and rinse well.
- Place the jar rack into the pressure canner. Fill the jars with water and place them in the canner. Fill the canner part way with water, and bring the canner to a boil over high heat.
- Reduce heat to medium-high and boil jars for 10 minutes to sterilize. Turn the heat to low and keep jars warm until you are ready to use them.
- Warm your lids in a small pot of water over low heat.
Prepare the corn:
- Husk the corn, remove silk, and rinse well under clean running water. Air dry on kitchen towels.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat, and fill a large bowl with ice water.
- Once the water boils, drop a few cobs at a time into the pot and blanch for 3 minutes. Remove the corn and plunge into ice water to stop the cooking process.
- Remove the cob from the ice water and place on clean kitchen towels. Repeat until all the corn is blanched.
- Cut the corn off the cob about three-fourths the depth of the kernels without scraping the cob.
Can the corn:
- Fill a large pot with clean water and bring it to a boil over high heat. This will be the water you will be using to fill your jars.
- Lay a kitchen towel on the counter. Remove the jars from the canner with the jar lifter, drain, and line up on the towel.
- Fill the jars loosely with raw kernels, leaving a 1-inch headspace. Don't shake, press down, or compress the corn. You want the individual kernels to be free to move around when processed in the canner.
- Add 1/2 teaspoon canning salt to each pint jar, or 1 teaspoon to each quart (salt is optional). Add fresh hot water to the jar, leaving 1-inch headspace.
- Run your bubble popper through the jar to release bubbles.
- Use your magnetic lid lifter to lift lids out of the warm water, center lid on the jar, and screw on band until it is fingertip tight.
- Using the jar lifter, place the jars back into the pressure canner leaving a little space in between them. Once the jars are all in canner, adjust the water level per your pressure canner's instructions. If adding water, use the hot water from your large pot.
- Follow the directions for your pressure canner and process pints for 55 minutes, and quarts for 85 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure for at altitudes of less than 1,000 feet. Adjust processing time for your altitude if necessary.
- When processing time is complete, turn off the heat and allow the pressure canner to cool and depressurize. The time will depend on your brand and should be between 30 to 60 minutes. Follow the instructions for your pressure canner.
- When the pressure canner has cooled, spread a kitchen towel on the counter, remove the weight from the vent pipe or open the petcock, and wait 10 minutes.
- While wearing pot holders, unlock the cover and remove the lid while tilting it away from you so that steam does not burn your face.
- Use a jar lifter to remove the jars from canner and place on the towel. The jars will be hot and bubbling. Do not tighten bands. Allow the jars to cool for 12-hours. As the jars cool, you will hear the satisfactory "ping" of the jar lids sealing.
- Wait until the jars have cooled for at least 12-hours, and then check to be sure jar lids have sealed. Test the seal by pushing on the center of the lid. The lid should not pop up. If the lid flexes up and down, it did not seal. Refrigerate the jar and use up within a few days.
- Remove the screw on bands and wash the jars. Label, date, store your jars in a cool, dark place, and use within 12-18 months. Yields 9 pints or 7 quarts.
- This is a tested safe canning recipe from the USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning. Changing the recipe may make the product unsafe for canning.
- All times are at altitudes of less than 1,000 ft. Adjustments must be made for altitudes greater than 1,000 ft.
- If you need immediate canning help or answers, please contact your local extension office.
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