Does your husband sometimes bring home random projects for you? Mine does! The other day, he brought home 6 dozen ears of sweet corn that he bought at a roadside stand. That’s right, 72 ears of corn! He then took me to the store to get more canning jars. So guess what I’m doing for the Self Reliant Skill of the Week? I’m going to pressure can sweet corn.
I’ve done VERY LITTLE canning prior to this year. In fact, this year was the first time I’ve tried pressure canning. I bought a really old pressure canner early this spring at a yard sale, and now I’ve used it twice. I pressure canned chicken, and now sweet corn.
Does corn have to be pressure canned?
Knowing whether something can be water bath canned, or has to be pressure canned, is a very important part of canning. As a general rule, you can water bath foods that have a high acid content, like tomatoes or fruit. Everything else has to be pressure canned. So yes, corn has to be pressure canned to be safe to store on the shelf.
When you’re first starting out canning, make sure you always use a tested and trusted recipe. I highly recommend The All New Ball Book of Canning and Preserving. Ball, a major manufacturer of canning jars, has a huge selection of safe, tested recipes. You won’t go wrong if you follow their directions!
Once you’re comfortable with the whole canning process, you can alter recipes or make your own if you feel comfortable doing so. Your kitchen, your rules! Just be cautious, the risk of botulism is real.
Preparing the sweet corn for pressure canning
First you will want to shuck your corn. Remove as much of the corn silk as you possibly can. But don’t throw it away – did you know you can make a medicinal tea out of corn silk? Simply air dry and store for up to a year in an airtight container. I will do a post later on the benefits of corn silk tea – but in the meantime, you should read that post.
Then you have 2 options. You can blanch the corn by putting it in boiling water for 2-3 minutes, then placing it in ice water. Or, do like I did and skip that part. The corn will be cooked during the canning process anyway!
Side note: if you are freezing your corn instead of canning it, you definitely need to blanch it first. But it’s perfectly acceptable to not blanch the corn if you’re canning it. Some find it’s easier to cut the corn off after it’s been blanched.
After the corn is cleaned and blanched (if desired), you need to strip the corn off the cob. An easy way to do this is to stand the corn cob upright in a shallow cooking sheet. With a sharp knife, cut from the top down in an even motion. Try not to saw it, and not to cut into the cob. You won’t be getting 100% of each kernel, but you won’t have the hard pieces of cob in there either.
I have heard of some people using a bundt pan to just slide the corn cobs through the center hole. This seems like a fabulous idea if it actually works. However, I don’t have a bundt pan, so we just cut the kernels off with a knife.
Once all the kernels are off the cobs, give them a good rinse through a colander. Also, don’t throw away those corn cobs! If you don’t have animals you can give them to, you can do something else useful with them. You can make corn cob jelly from something that would normally end up in the trash!
The canning process
Get your pressure canner ready by putting at least 2 inches of water in the bottom. Follow the directions on your canner – mine says 3 quarts of water. You can add a splash of white vinegar to the water in the canner to prevent hard water stains on the jars. Turn the burner on to high.
Put several quarts of plain water in a saucepan over high heat to boil. This water will go over the corn in the jars.
If you are using the standard canning lids, you will want to simmer them in hot water to soften the wax seal. This helps ensure they will seal properly. Make sure you are only using brand new lids when you are pressure canning anything. The rings can be re-used. I used the “Sure Tight” lids, so I didn’t need to simmer them.
Put non-iodized salt in your jars. For quarts, use 1 teaspoon. For pints, use 1/2 teaspoon. If you use iodized salt, it can cause your food to discolor.
Pour the corn kernels into the jars, leaving 1 inch head space. This will be the bottom ring at the top of almost every canning jar. Then pour the boiling water from your saucepan into the jars, maintaining that 1 inch head space. Run a debubbler tool or spatula along the inside of the jar to let excess air escape. If needed, add a little more water to keep the 1 inch head space.
Put the lids and rings on each jar, and place the jars in the warm pressure canner. Keep the heat on, and lock the lid on the canner, but don’t put the weight on yet. When steam starts to come out of the vent, set a timer for 10 minutes. Let the steam vent for that 10 minutes, then put the weight on.
Allow the pressure to build up to the required pressure for your altitude (for me at 2,400 feet above sea level, it’s 12 lbs). When it reaches pressure, set a timer for the time required to pressure can sweet corn. For pints, you need to can for 55 minutes. For quarts, the time is 1 hour 25 minutes.
Keep an eye on the heat so the pressure doesn’t get too high. If the pressure gets too high, turn down the heat. If the pressure drops below the required amount, you’ll need to start the timer all over. So keep a close eye on it!
Have you pressure canned sweet corn?
So tell us, have you ever pressure canned sweet corn? Are you an expert or a novice? Please watch my video and let me know what I might have done wrong on the second batch – it turned out much darker than the first batch. Leave me some feedback in the comments!