Full Steam Ahead! How to Can Corn

Pressure canning takes home preservation beyond the water bath.
Pressure canners use steam to safely can low acid foods (like corn).

Pressure canners use steam to safely can low acid foods (like corn).

Pressure canners use steam to safely can low acid foods (like corn).

Pressure canners use steam to safely can low acid foods (like corn).

In the summertime, mountains of fresh-picked corn can be found at every turn: roadside stands, farmers' markets, even the occasional backyard garden. When the weather is hot, corn is king. Grilled, steamed, creamed or microwaved right in the husk, the sweet yellow or white favorite is a staple of the season, and we will eat more than our fill before autumn arrives all too soon. And then we’ll eat some more, thanks to the magic of pressure canning.

Although commercially canned corn is standard pantry fare, it isn’t necessarily the first vegetable one thinks of when diving into summer canning. Why are low acid vegetables like peas, asparagus and corn so often left of the list? It all comes down to bacteria. 

Water bath canning is the process of boiling canned produce in water to seal jars and to kill the enzymes that cause food to spoil. For high-acid produce or produce to which acids have been added (think pickles), bacteria that may lead to botulism or salmonella are killed off by the favorable pH levels. Safe canning of low-acid produce needs a little help knocking out that dangerous bacteria in the form of heat that a water bath just can’t provide.

Using pressurized steam, specialized canning equipment can reach temperatures in excess of 240 degrees, necessary to destroy dangerous bacteria. Pressure is controlled by adjusting the temperature of the stovetop burner on which it rests, and a regulator valve ensures that safe levels cannot be exceeded. Pressure canning is safe, easy and reliable, but unlike water canning, it requires an investment that may intimidate the casual home canner. 

Ready to take the plunge? Pressure canners can be purchased for as little as $60, and for the home canner ready to take that next step, there’s no better time. Canning that plentiful (and cheap) summer corn is an easy first project that will pay off all year long.

How to Pressure-Can Corn

  • 4 ½ pounds of corn (in husk) for each quart to be canned
  • ¼ teaspoon salt per quart

Remove husks and silk from fresh ears and blanch in a pot of boiling water for 3 minutes.

Using a sharp knife or a corn zipper, cut the kernels from the cob, taking care to take off as little of the cob as possible.

Fill sterile quart canning jars with corn (do not compress), leaving 1 inch of head space. 

Add ¼ teaspoon salt to each jar.

Pour boiling water into each jar to cover corn.

Cap jars with lids and bands and process in pressure canner at 10 psi for 85 minutes.

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