Let's Enjoy Corn! (FN1980, July 2020)

Corn, or maize, has been consumed for thousands of years. This handout provides tips and recipes for preparing and preserving corn.

Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., R.D., L.R.D., Food and Nutrition Specialist

Availability: Web only

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three cobs of sweet corn

Corn, or maize, has been consumed for thousands of years. Food historians believe it was developed at least 7,000 years ago in Mexico. Later, it was cultivated widely by Native American tribes in North and South America and introduced to Europe by explorers.

Corn provides vitamin C and B vitamins, along with minerals, including potassium and magnesium. On average, ½ cup of sweet corn has 75 calories, 2 g of protein, less than 1 g of fat and 16 g of carbohydrate.

If you think of carrots and healthy eyes, be aware that corn is good for your eyes, too. Corn contains the eye-healthy natural carotenoid pigments lutein and zeaxanthin. These two natural pigments may help reduce our risk of age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.

This handout provides tips and recipes for preparing and preserving corn. See the section about corn at for more information.

Key to abbreviations
c. = cup
oz. = ounce
tsp. = teaspoon
Tbsp. = tablespoon
g = gram
mg = milligram

The salsa recipes are not safe for canning.

corn and black bean salsa in bowl surrounded by whole-grain crackers
NDSU Extension

Corn and Black Bean Salsa

1 (16-oz.) jar salsa (mild or medium)
1 (15.5-oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1½ c. cooked corn, sliced from cob (or substitute frozen kernels)
2 medium-sized tomatoes, chopped
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
¼ tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. ground cumin
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro or 1 tsp. dried (optional)

Combine all ingredients and chill for 30 minutes. Serve with whole-grain crackers or tortilla chips, or as a side dish with grilled food.

Makes 12 servings. Each ½-cup serving has 60 calories, 0 g fat, 3 g protein, 13 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber and 380 milligrams sodium.


fresh corn salsa in bowl with tortilla chips
NDSU Extension

Fresh Corn Salsa

4 ears fresh corn, kernels removed 
1 c. green bell pepper, chopped
½ c. red onion, chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 Tbsp. lemon juice or vinegar
½ tsp. black pepper
¼ tsp. salt

Prepare ingredients as directed. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Refrigerate for at least one hour before serving.

Makes 10 servings. Each ½-cup serving has 60 calories, 0 g fat, 2 g protein, 14 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber and 60 mg sodium.

corn on the cob with bacon and buffalo sauce
NDSU Extension

Corn on the Cob With Bacon and Buffalo Sauce

4 ears corn, husked and cleaned
¼ c. (½ stick) butter, melted
4 slices finely chopped cooked bacon, lower-sodium, fried crisp and drained
2 Tbsp. buffalo sauce or your favorite hot sauce

Cook corn by boiling in water for about for 10 minutes. While the corn is cooking, make the buffalo sauce by combining the melted butter and hot sauce. After the corn is cooked, let cool and slather with the buffalo sauce. Garnish with finely chopped bacon.

Alternative directions for grilling: Place the corn on a grill at high heat and cook for 10 to 12 minutes while turning over and rotating it.

Makes four servings. Each serving has 210 calories, 16 g fat, 5 g protein, 14 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber and 320 mg sodium.

parmesan cilantro corn in a white bowl
NDSU Extension

Parmesan Cilantro Corn

2 Tbsp. butter
4 c. frozen corn
1 garlic clove minced
1 Tbsp. lime juice
1 tsp. cumin
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
1/3 c. grated Parmesan cheese
3 Tbsp. Greek yogurt
3 Tbsp. milk
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. black pepper
½ c. cilantro, chopped

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt butter. When butter is melted, add the garlic and corn, stirring to coat with butter. Cook, stirring frequently, for two minutes. Add lime juice, cumin and cayenne pepper and cook for two more minutes. Stir in cheese, Greek yogurt and milk. Add additional milk or yogurt as needed to make a creamy texture. Continue to stir so corn doesn’t stick to the pan. Add salt and pepper. Cook corn until most of the cream has been absorbed, about five minutes more. Remove from heat, stir in cilantro and serve hot.

Makes eight servings. Each ½-cup serving has 120 calories, 4.5 g fat, 4 g protein, 18 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber and 210 mg sodium.

Preserving Corn

Corn can be pickled, frozen or canned at home.

Pickled Corn Relish (for canning)

10 c. fresh whole-kernel corn (16 to 20 medium-size ears), or six 10-oz. packages of frozen corn
2½ c. diced sweet red peppers
2½ c. diced sweet green peppers
2½ c. chopped celery
1¼ c. diced onions
1¾ c. sugar
5 c. vinegar (5%)
2½ Tbsp. canning or pickling salt2½ tsp. celery seed
2½ Tbsp. dry mustard
1¼ tsp. turmeric

Please read “Questions and Answers about Using a Boiling Water-bath Canner” (FN1425) from NDSU Extension before beginning.

Procedure: Boil ears of corn for five minutes. Dip in cold water. Cut whole kernels from cob or use six 10-oz. frozen packages of corn. Combine peppers, celery, onions, sugar, vinegar, salt and celery seed in a saucepan. Bring to boil and simmer five minutes, stirring occasionally. Mix mustard and turmeric in ½ cup of the simmered mixture. Add this mixture and corn to the hot mixture. Simmer another five minutes. If desired, thicken mixture with flour paste (¼ c. flour blended in ¼ c. water) and stir frequently. Fill jars with hot mixture, leaving ½ inch head space. Hot-pack the jars in half-pints or pints. At 0 to 1,000 feet, process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes. At 1,001 to 6,000 feet, process for 20 minutes. Above 6,000 feet, process for 25 minutes.

Yield: About 9 pints

Recipe source: Complete Guide to Home Canning. Agriculture Information Bulletin No. 539, U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Freezing Corn

■ To freeze corn on the cob, select ears with plump kernels. Husk ears, remove silk and wash. Sort cobs by size. Blanch small ears (1¼ inches in diameter) for seven minutes, medium ears (1¼ to 1½ inches in diameter) for nine minutes and large ears (more than 1½ inches in diameter) for 11 minutes. After the heating process, cool in ice water, drain well, and package in freezer bags and freeze.

■ To freeze whole-kernel or cream-style corn, select ears with plump kernels. Husk ears, remove silk and wash. Blanch for four minutes, cool and drain. For whole-kernel corn, cut corn from cob about two-thirds of the depth of the kernels. For cream-style corn, cut at half the depth of the kernels and scrape cob with back of knife to remove juice. Pack in freezer bags or containers, seal and freeze.

For more information about freezing vegetables, see NDSU Extension’s publication “Freezing Vegetables” (FN187).

Corn must be pressure canned for safety. To can whole-kernel corn or cream-style corn, see “Home Canning Low-acid Vegetables” (FN 173) available at (click on “Food Preservation” and “Canning”).


  • 1 bushel of corn = 35 pounds
  • 31½ pounds of corn (in husks) is needed for one 7-quart canner load of whole-kernel corn
  • About 20 pounds of corn is needed for a 9-pint canner load of cream-style corn

Funding for this publication was made possible by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service through grant AM190100XXXG028.

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