Freshly harvested corn is one of the most delicious summer bounties, but what happens when the season is over, and your only option is store-bought canned corn? You do your own canning! Trust us, home-canned corn is the closest you can get to fresh corn.
Since corn is a low-acid food, it has to be processed in a pressure canner and cooked at a really high temperature to get rid of any harmful bacteria. Don’t worry, and even if you’re new to the canning world, the process is straightforward: first, you have to prep it, then fill the jars, process them, let them cool and label them for storage.
There are two techniques you can use to preserve your corn in cans, so be sure to read the full guide we’ve put together with all the essentials on how to can corn!
How to Select the Best Corn for Canning
Quality corn ears will, of course, give the best results. The corn you’re going to use for canning should be solid, without soft spots or missing kernels. But maybe you’re at the farmers’ market and can’t peel back the husk to look at the kernels, so here are a few tips to select the best sweet corn for canning.
Take a look at the husk. If it looks dry or has small holes, it means that corn isn’t fresh and might even have insect damage. Instead, look for bright green husks that signal freshly harvested corn.
Another indicator of fresh corn are the tassels, or silks, at the top of the cob. Avoid tassels that look mushy or dry, and they should be of a yellowish-brown color and smell fresh.
Now, let’s talk about quantity. Pressure canners can typically take either 9 pint-sized (500 ml) jars or 7 quarts (1 L) jars. For one pint jar, you’ll need about 4 medium long ears of corn, and for a quart jar, you should get approximately 8 ears.
Once you have your sweet corn ears, it’s time to prep them for canning!
These are the supplies you’re going to need for the whole canning process:
- Pressure canner
- Canning jars with their lids
- Canning tools (lid lifter, jar lifter, canning ladle, funnel, bubble popper, and canning bands)
- Kettle or large pot
- Large bowl
- Small pot
- Kitchen towels
- Cutting boards
If you’re taking your first steps into the canning world and thus have never used a pressure canner before, we suggest that you read the manufacturer’s instructions first.
This is what you should do to prepare your canning supplies:
- Wash both the canning jars and the lids in warm, soapy water and thoroughly rinse them afterward. Don’t boil the lids as it can affect their ability to seal.
- Set the jar rack into the pressure canner, place the jars in, and fill the canner with water.
- Sterilize the jars (not the lids!) by boiling them over medium heat for approximately 10 minutes.
- While you wait for the sterilization process to end, you can start boiling the water needed to fill the jars of sweet corn in a large pot or kettle over high heat.
- Now, keep both the jars and the lids warm until they’re ready to use. You can warm them in a small pot over low heat, but always keeping a close eye on them so they don’t boil.
- When you have your corn ready to be canned, place a clean kitchen towel on the counter and line up your freshly washed jars and lids on it. To prevent the jars from cooling down, we like to take them out of the warm water as we need them, one at a time.
Prepare the Corn
Prepping the corn might take a few minutes, so you might want to do it while your jars are being sterilized. Here’s what you need to do:
- Remove the husks and the corn silk from each ear of corn.
- Rinse well under cool running water.
- Blanch the corn. While this step is optional, we’ve found it makes it easier to cut the kernels from the cob.
You should bring a large pot of water over high heat and fill a large bowl with cold water. Drop the cobs into the boiling water and blanch for about 3 minutes. Remove the cobs and submerge them into cold water for a minute or two.
- Trim the pointy end of the corn with a knife and slice off the kernels into a large bowl.
Be careful not to slice so deep that you scrape the cob because that will add extra starch that can make your jar look cloudy.
As we’ve mentioned at the very beginning of this article, there are two techniques to can corn. The first one is the raw pack, which is the usual choice for canned corn, which involves ladling the food into the jars while it’s still raw and pouring boiling water on top. While this method is faster, it might lead to shrinkage.
The other technique is the hot pack, which is typically used when you’re going for water bath canning. Even though water bath canning is not suitable for corn, you can still use the hot pack method with a pressure canner. It’s going to take a bit longer than the raw pack because you need to precook your corn first, but the flavor and the color will both be better.
Whichever method you go with, we recommend filling one jar at a time if you’re working with a large amount for two reasons. One, the jars and the lids should be warm when you fill them, and two, the corn should remain as hot as possible throughout the whole process. So you should fill the first jar, seal it and place it into the pressure canner before moving on to the next jar.
Can the Corn with the Raw Pack Method
You’ve chosen your technique, and now you’re finally ready to start canning! These are the steps to can corn following the raw pack method:
- Fill the jars with your kernels, making sure to leave a 1-inch (3 cm) headspace (i.e. the space between the top of the kernels and that of the jar). Don’t press the corn down or shake the jars.
- If you want to enhance the flavor, add ½ teaspoon of canning or pickling salt. Don’t use regular table salt, or you’d risk the development of harmful bacteria.
- Take the boiling water from the large pot or kettle you filled while prepping your canning supplies and pour it over the beans in each jar, always leaving a 1-inch headspace.
- Remove any air bubbles with the bubble popper by running it between the glass and the food. If you don’t have a bubble popper, you can just use a clean ruler.
- Measure your headspace again, and add extra water if needed.
- Wipe away any food or liquid that might’ve spilled on the rims. Make sure to remove anything that can prevent a seal from forming.
- Finally, attach each lid and canning band. Keep in mind that overtightening canning bands can prevent the vacuum seal from forming.
As a rule of thumb, they should be tight enough that you could still tighten them another ¼-inch to ½-inch (0.50 cm to 0.25 cm).
For the hot pack method, this is what you should do:
- Boil 1 cup of water for every 4 cups of corn kernels.
- Add the corn and let simmer for about 5 minutes.
- Fill your jars with corn and water, making sure to leave a 1-inch (3 cm) headspace in each jar.
- Then, follow steps 4 to 7 in the raw pack method. Namely: remove air bubbles with the bubble popper, wipe the rims, and attach the lids and canning bands.
Now, for the last stage of the canning process, you’re going to need all of your canning supplies. This is the way to process sweet corn:
- Carefully place each filled jar on the pressure canner’s rack using the jar lifter. The pressure canner should be at least half-filled with simmering water.
- If you’re following our advice on canning large amounts of corn, lower the rack back into the water to keep the jars hot while you fill the remaining ones.
- When all of the jars are in place, adjust the water level according to the manufacturer’s instructions. If you need to add more water, try to use the hot water from your large pot or kettle if you still have some left.
- Fasten the pressure canner’s lid securely, heat at the highest setting, and bring the canner to a boil.
- Let the canner vent for 10 minutes, then place weight on the vent.
- Adjust the processing time for your altitude according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Typically, you should process pint jars for 55 minutes and quart jars for 85 minutes.
- After the processing time is complete, turn the heat off and let the canner cool for at least 1 hour.
- Being mindful of the steam, remove the lid, and let the jars adjust to the pressure change for a few minutes.
- Lift the jars with the jar lifter and place them on a kitchen towel.
- Let cool for between 12 and 24 hours. You should hear the “pop” signaling the successful jar sealing.
- Date, label, and store your canned sweet corn in a cool, dark place, and you’re done! Now you can enjoy your corn for up to 12 months.
How to Cook Corn from a Can
Maybe you’ve canned an ungodly amount of corn (hey, we’ve all been there), and no are wondering what tasty dishes you can make with it. Sweet corn can be stirred into soups, made into appetizers such as elote dip, and even leftover corn fritters.
If you’re looking for something quicker and easier, though, here’s how to transform your canned corn into cream corn:
- Heat your corn and let simmer for about 10 minutes
- Place half of the corn into a blender and add half a cup of cream.
- Blend until it becomes a purée.
- Add butter and salt to taste.
All that’s left is to heat, and it’s ready to serve!
If you want to have crispy sweet corn all year round and have a pressure canner and a few canning jars in your cupboard, you can preserve it for up to a year and use it for different dishes.
We’ve provided a complete step-by-step guide so that you can safely and confidently can as much corn as you want. The process takes time, though, so remember to be patient and follow our tips for the best results!