It’s a hallmark of summer cooking and one of the season’s sweetest treats. It’s good on the grill and even better slathered in butter that’s dribbling down your wrist. Yep, there are few things we look forward to more than in-season corn on the cob. But once you trek to the farmers market and back, how can you keep that corn fresh for as long as possible? Here’s how to store corn on the cob (and how to buy the best corn in the first place).
First, how do you pick the best corn on the cob?
While there’s nothing wrong with buying corn on the cob at your nearest grocery store, you’ll get the best flavor and highest quality if you buy it from a farm or farmers market. (That way, you know exactly where it came from and how fresh it is.) When it comes to selecting ears, there are a few tricks to picking the sweetest, tastiest ones.
1. Don’t shuck before you buy. Even though you’ve probably seen other corn-buyers peel back the husk to take a peek at the kernels, we beg you: Don’t peel the corn if you’re not going to buy it! This leaves those juicy kernels susceptible to damage and drying out.
2. Do give the ear a squeeze. It’s kosher to *gently* squeeze an ear of corn to feel the kernel size and texture. You’re aiming for plump and abundant; if you can feel holes from missing kernels, pick another ear.
3. Don’t go for dry silk. The corn silk is that bundle of shiny, thread-like fibers (aka the tassel) on the top of the ear. The freshest corn will have brown and sticky silk. If it’s dry or black, it’s past its peak.
4. Do look at the husk. If the husk (the outer part that you shuck away) is bright green and wrapped taut, it’s a good ear. Really fresh corn might even feel damp to the touch.
How to store corn on the cob:
So you’ve carefully selected your corn; now you’re ready to bring it home. If you’re not going to cook and eat it that day (our recommendation), you can store fresh corn up to three days. The key is to prevent it from drying out.
1. Store it on the counter. Store whole, un-shucked ears of corn on the countertop for up to 24 hours. Stored this way, you should ideally consume the corn the same day you buy it.
2. Store it in the fridge. You can store shucked ears of corn in the refrigerator, wrapped tightly in a plastic bag. Eat the corn within three days.
Can you freeze corn on the cob?
If you don’t plan on eating the corn within three days, you can—and should—freeze it. This can be done a few different ways.
1. Blanch and freeze the whole ears of corn. Blanching (aka quickly boiling in salted water) preserves the texture and flavor of the corn when freezing it. Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil, then drop in the whole, shucked ears of corn. Cook for 2½ minutes, then immediately transfer the corn to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. Store the corn on the cob in Ziploc bags in the freezer up to one year.
2. Blanch and freeze just the kernels. This is the same method as above, but instead of freezing the corn on the cob, you strip the kernels from the cob using a knife before storing in a Ziploc bag and freezing for up to one year.
3. Freeze the raw kernels. This is the fastest way to freeze corn, but the texture and flavor won’t be exactly the same when you thaw it. Simply strip the raw kernels from the cob, transfer to a Ziploc bag and freeze up to six months. When you want to use the corn, we recommend sautéing in salt, pepper and butter to give it a new life.
6 recipes to make with corn on the cob:
- Corn Fritter Caprese with Peaches and Tomatoes
- Spicy Corn Carbonara
- Grilled Corn with Spicy Aioli
- Sweet Corn Doughnut Holes
- 30-Minute Creamy Chicken, Corn and Tomato Skillet
- Summer Skillet Gnocchi with Grilled Corn and Burrata