When it comes to canning corn, you’ll want to choose a sweet corn variety that has been specifically bred for canning purposes. The best canned corn will have a sweet, delicious flavor while still retaining its texture after being processed and stored.
What Makes a Good Canning Corn?
There are a few key factors that make certain corn varieties better suited for canning:
- Tender Kernels – The kernels should be plump, tender and fill the cob. Hard, tough kernels will not be as enjoyable to eat after canning.
- Proper Sugar Content – Varieties developed for canning tend to have higher sugar content than fresh eating corn. More sugar means better preserved sweetness.
- Milk Stage Maturity – Canning corn is best harvested during the late milk/early dough stage. Kernels are fully-formed but still tender.
- Disease Resistance – Varieties bred for canning often have enhanced disease resistance to maximize crop yield and quality.
Recommended Canning Corn Varieties
Here are some of the most popular sweet corn varieties that are perfect for canning:
Jubilee is probably the most well-known and widely available variety specifically developed for canning and freezing. It produces large, 8-inch cobs filled with sweet, golden kernels. Jubilee holds its texture well and has a tender bite.
Golden Cross Bantam
This heirloom variety dates back over 100 years and produces medium-sized, 6-7 inch ears. The tasty yellow kernels have 14-18% sugar content, making them extra sweet. Golden Cross Bantam is especially suitable for whole kernel canning.
If you want bigger, showier cobs for canning, Calico is an excellent choice. The large ears can grow up to 9-inches long and have 16 rows of kernels. Calico holds its flavor for up to 6 months when properly processed and canned.
Known for its beauty and taste, Silver Queen corn produces large, attractive white kernels that turn creamy-silver after cooking. It has a high sugar content and retains excellent texture for canning or freezing.
This early-maturing variety is ready to harvest around 72 days after planting. It produces 6.5 to 7-inch ears with slender, pale yellow kernels. Spring Treat tastes best when canned within hours of picking.
Planting & Growing Canning Corn
Here are some tips for planting and growing corn that’s intended for canning:
- Choose an open, sunny spot in the garden.
- Space rows 2-3 feet apart and plant seeds 1 inch deep and 6-8 inches apart within rows.
- Plant in blocks of short rows rather than one long row to improve pollination.
- Corn is wind pollinated, so plant in blocks rather than long single rows.
- When planting multiple successions, space 2-3 weeks apart for continual harvests.
- Ideal soil temperature for germination is at least 60°F.
- Pre-soak seeds to accelerate germination.
- Fertilize when planting and side dress again when plants are knee-high.
- Water regularly to keep soil consistently moist.
- Weed and thin plants to 4-6 inches between as needed.
When to Harvest Canning Corn
Timing is everything when harvesting sweet corn for canning. Here are some signs your corn is ready for picking:
- Kernels are full size and plump.
- Liquid inside kernels is milky rather than clear.
- Kernels are tender when pierced with a fingernail.
- Silks have browned and dried out.
- Ears are well-filled out to the tip.
For peak flavor and texture, harvest early in the morning and can corn the same day it’s picked.
How to Can Corn
Canning is a safe, effective way to preserve corn so you can enjoy it year-round. Here is a simple step-by-step guide:
Before canning, corn must be heated to a boil in order to stop the action of enzymes that cause loss of flavor, color, and texture.
– Bring a large pot of water to boiling.
– Add corn and return to boiling.
– Blanch whole kernels for 4 minutes and corn on the cob for 7 minutes.
– Drain corn immediately and cool in ice water.
Now it’s time to pack the blanched corn into sterilized jars:
– Place corn into hot, sterilized jars, leaving 1-inch of headspace at the top.
– Add 1 teaspoon of salt per quart to each jar.
– Fill jar to 1 inch from top with boiling water or syrup.
– Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace as needed.
– Wipe jar rims clean.
– Place prepared lids and rings onto jars and tighten.
The final step is processing the filled jars in a water bath canner:
– Fill canner halfway with hot water and preheat to 180°F.
– Load sealed jars into the canner using a jar lifter.
– Add additional boiling water if needed to cover jars by 1-2 inches.
– Bring water to a full rolling boil and process pint jars for 55 min or quart jars for 85 min.
– Turn off heat and remove lid. Let jars rest in canner for 5 min.
– Remove jars and allow to cool undisturbed for 12-24 hours.
– Check seals, then store in a cool, dry place for up to 18 months.
Tips for Canning Corn
Follow these tips for safely canned corn with the best texture and flavor:
- Always use fully mature, fresh picked corn.
- Husk corn right before canning or freezing.
- Cut corn off the cob at about 2/3 the kernel depth.
- Use a syrup brine of 1 part sugar to 4 parts water for sweetness.
- Add citric acid or lemon juice to help preserve color and texture.
- Leave adequate headspace and process jars for full time to seal properly.
- Store jars in a cool, dark place for maximum shelf life.
Freezing is another simple way to preserve fresh corn harvests. To freeze:
- Blanch corn on the cob for 4 minutes, kernels for 2 minutes.
- Chill corn in ice bath for 4 minutes after blanching.
- Drain corn thoroughly and pack into freezer bags or containers.
- Remove as much air as possible and seal tightly.
- Label with contents and date.
- Freeze immediately.
- Corn will retain optimal quality frozen for up to 12 months.
Tips for Freezing Corn
Follow these recommendations for best frozen corn quality:
- Select prime, mature sweet corn for freezing.
- Blanch corn thoroughly to deactivate enzymes and set color and texture.
- Allow corn to cool completely before packing for freezing.
- Use only high quality freezer bags or containers.
- Press out all excess air and seal tightly.
- Freeze corn as soon as possible after harvesting and prep.
- Avoid overcrowding freezer bags or containers.
- Store at 0°F or below for no more than 12 months.
Canning Safety Tips
When canning foods at home, always follow these safe food preservation guidelines:
- Use up-to-date USDA or extension service approved recipes and processes.
- Check jars, lids and bands for any defects before using.
- Use jars designed specifically for home canning.
- Only use new lids each time you can.
- Clean and sterilize all equipment, jars and lids thoroughly.
- Adjust processing time and pressure as needed for your altitude.
- Process all jars in a properly calibrated pressure canner or water bath.
- Carefully monitor temperature and pressure during processing.
- Allow jars to seal and cool properly after removing from canner.
- Always check jar seals before storing.
- Discard any jars with poor seals or spoilage.
Canning Corn Recipes
Once you’ve learned proper corn canning techniques, try out these delicious recipe ideas:
Simply Canned Corn
- Corn on the cob or kernels
- Salt (optional)
Blanch corn on the cob (7 mins) or kernels (4 mins). Cool. Pack into hot jars leaving 1 inch headspace. Add 1 tsp salt per quart if desired. Fill with boiling water leaving 1 inch space. Wipe rims, apply lids and rings. Process pint or quart jars at 10 lbs pressure for 55-85 mins. Cool and store.
- Corn kernels
Blanch corn 4 mins. Cool and cut from cob. Simmer corn in small amount of water 10 mins. Make roux with flour, milk, salt, sugar and butter. Add to corn. Reheat just to boiling. Fill jars leaving 1 inch space. Process pints 55 mins, quarts 85 mins.
- Jalapeño peppers
- Olive oil
- Chicken broth
Sauté onions, jalapeño, and garlic in oil. Add corn, broth, salt, and pepper. Simmer 5 mins. Fill jars leaving 1 inch space. Process pints or quarts for 85 mins.
Recommended Supplies for Canning Corn
Having the proper equipment will make corn canning much easier. Recommended supplies include:
- Pressure canner or multi-use water bath canner
- Jar lifter tongs
- Lid lifter
- Jar funnel
- Bubble popper and headspace measuring tool
- Quality pint or quart canning jars
- New two-piece canning lids and bands for each use
- Clean towels or dish cloths
- Permanent marker
- Kitchen gloves
Storing Canned Corn
For best quality and safety, be sure to follow these storage guidelines:
- Check seals on cooled jars after 12-24 hours. Refrigerate any unsealed jars.
- Wash and dry sealed jars before storing.
- Store properly sealed jars in a cool, dark place between 50-70°F.
- Avoid temperature extremes or direct sunlight, which can affect quality.
- Use within 12-18 months for highest quality.
- Check periodically for signs of spoilage like mold, unpleasant odors, etc.
- Discard any jar that shows signs of damage or poor sealing.
Enjoy Your Canned Corn All Year Long!
Now that you know which varieties are best for canning, along with proper harvesting, preparing, processing, and storage techniques, you can enjoy delicious home-canned corn for up to 18 months after harvest season.
Corn is a favorite veggie for good reason – it’s tasty, versatile, and freezes well too. So try your hand at canning corn this season and your next batch of chili, soups, sautés and more will benefit all year from the sweet flavor of summer.