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Pickling Recipes - How to Make Pickled Corn

Updated on July 11, 2012

Pickling Recipes - Making Pickled Corn

I love collecting old time pickling recipes like the ones from my Grandmother's collection. Bless her heart she is no longer with us and I miss her so much, and one way I hold her memory dear is to use her old fashioned recipes.

Here on the farm the corn is coming in. We eat it, freeze it, can it, and another way I enjoy corn is to pickle it.

My grandmother in Tennessee used to make this when I was little. My mom did not do much canning or preserving (5 kids and city living), so visits to Granny's were the only times I got to eat this delectable treasure.

Some say it is an acquired taste, but I loved it the first time I ever tasted it. It is a common pickling recipe in many farming communities, and a great way to use up some of your corn crop. Anyone with any corn farming experience knows that when the corn comes in, you have to do something with it quickly.

From my pickling recipes collection, here is how to make pickled corn.

Image is by Me ZigPop - That's the hubby shucking corn from our farm.

Harvesting and Shucking

Get it Before the Crows and Raccoons Do!

There's an old joke about how to know when the corn is ready. The answer is, when the raccoons show up! The crows and raccoons seem to have a sense of when that corn is at its sweetest.

Corn has to be harvested when it is ready. If left on the stalks, it loses its sweetness, worms get in it, and varmints steal it for their own dinner.

When the corn comes in, everyone in my house knows they have to help harvest, shuck, and get the corn put up.

We do stagger the corn plantings so it all doesn't come in at once, but it still does come in and we have to deal with it promptly.

The corn worm image below is courtesy of NeoGaboX on Flickr.

Yikes! A Corn Worm!

Yikes! A Corn Worm!
Yikes! A Corn Worm!

Old Corn Saying

My father in law used to say that the person who ate the most corn ate the most silk.

Pesticides on the Corn - To Use or Not to Use

What About Worms?

We are of the mind that the less pesticides and chemicals we use, the better. Some say that Dipel dust harms the worms only and not the pollinating bees or people.

I suggest visiting the MSDS on it and deciding for yourself. Dipel Dust MSDS

We just pull the ears and any that have worms we just slice off the end.

Not all of the corn has worms; just some of the ears.

They usually don't do much damage, just on the tip, and we'd rather slice off that end of the corn than use chemicals or pesticides. It doesn't amount to that much waste and it is just our preference.

There's a theory that using certain chemicals and pesticides in the garden can actually make things worse, because some chemicals kill off the good beneficial bugs along with the bad.

I am not saying I am a total "organic" farmer. I will use certain products IN MODERATION if a situation warrants it, but we make a good go at handling it first (as in hand squishing squash bugs and their eggs).

Sometimes we will use fungicide on some vegetables, but corn is relatively maintenance free. We add nitrogen during the growing season and that's about it.

Handling Garden Pests

Do You Use Pesticides In Your Garden?

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Corn Fresh Off the Stalks

Corn Fresh Off the Stalks
Corn Fresh Off the Stalks

A Bountiful Harvest

So far this year (2012), we have harvested over 400 ears of fresh corn. Some people plant much more than that. We are thinking next year we will add more corn by enlarging the garden.

Canners to Consider - Preserving Food is Fun and Easy

I personally have an All American canner. I've had it for years and it has been very reliable. I do take good care of it. You want to be careful not to drop your canner lid or bump it hard so you don't damage the pressure regulator. I would rather pay a little more money for a good quality canner than a cheaply made one. It is something you can use for many years and a good one will last if well cared for.

Also known as mixed pickle, this recipe often contains green beans, cabbage, corn, and even peppers. Some even add okra or green tomatoes. The versions I like best are pickled corn, and pickled corn and beans. The recipe I'm providing here is for pickled corn.


  • Pickling Salt (Do NOT use regular salt)
  • Fresh Corn
  • Quart or Pint Canning Jars with Rings and Unused New Lids
  • Water Bath Canner (my canner is by All American)


2.7 stars from 16 ratings of Pickling Recipes

Pickling Recipes - Making Pickled Corn

A popular pickling recipe in the Appalachian Mountains and in the Tennessee and Carolina area in general is pickled corn. It is often called Mixed Pickle and can be either all corn, corn and green beans, and even have cabbage and peppers mixed in. I pickled only corn in my last batch and will do green beans and corn in the next batch because the beans are coming in.

  1. Pick your corn. You can also buy fresh corn if you don't have a garden. Corn should be filled out and plump, ready to harvest. Don't pick corn too early or too late.
  2. Shuck the corn, removing the silks. Wash and set aside. If ends have worms or any damage, simply slice the end off with a knife.
  3. Decide how much corn you will pickle. I pickle and freeze at the same time so I don't end up with any waste from what won't fit into jars. I first fill the jars and get the corn pickling underway, then proceed on to freeze the rest or set aside for dinner.
  4. Sterilize your canning jars and lids. I do this by boiling gently in my pressure canner for 10 minutes. Cover and keep warm.
  5. Bring water to a rolling boil; AFTER water is boiling, add corn and cook 3-4 minutes. Some only cook the corn 1 minute, but we cook it 3-4 minutes and it is easier to cut off the cob. We've tried it both ways, and this works for us. Do not overcook or corn will be tough, so 3-4 minutes is the limit. If you add the corn before the water is fully boiling, the water will have to reheat which will lengthen the cooking process and overcook the corn. This is for corn you are canning or freezing. For fresh corn on the cob to eat, I cook it differently and will post a link back to that in a bit.
  6. Place cooked corn in bowl of ice water to stop the cooking.
  7. Cut the corn off the cobs, being careful not to cut too deeply into the cob.
  8. Place corn in canning jars; the wide mouth jars make this task easier, but the other jars work fine, too. Don't pack the corn all the way to the top; you need to leave room for adding water; pack it just below the bottom part of the lid rim (the part the ring goes around).
  9. Next add pickling salt. Do not attempt to use regular salt; you must use pickling salt in this recipe. Add 4 teaspoons per quart jar, or if using pints add 2 teaspoons. These are measurements to go by if using hybrid sweet corn, which is what we grow. If using other non-hybrid corn varieties, adjust to 1 teaspoon for pints and 2 teaspoons per quart.
  10. Add hot water to each jar, enough so that it just about runs over the top of the jar. All corn should be covered.
  11. Add lid and ring to jar; you want to tighten this to be snug, but not overly tight so any water that works off can escape. Gently turn jar sideways back and forth to distribute salt throughout corn and liquid.
  12. You don't want to store these in a hot area; I put mine under the kitchen sink on a towel in case any water works off.
  13. Let the corn work for 9-14 days. I check mine every day or so, and as the corn works I begin to tighten the lids a little more. Air needs to escape during fermentation, which is why I check and remove the lids every day to allow air to escape. In the beginning the lids are jar rings are snug but also loose enough to allow water to ease out if it needs to and I will tighten them a little more each day, still opening to allow air to escape then closing back up.
  14. I also remove the lids and make sure all is okay and there is no yeast scum on top of the corn. If there is, don't panic, just carefully remove it and replace lid and ring. Some people ferment corn in a crock and a yeast scum often forms that must be removed; the same is true of cucumbers pickled in a crock (old fashioned General Store style dills). This current batch I have made is in Day 10 and I've had no scum form of any kind.
  15. After 14 days, remove lids and rings and wipe down jar with clean cloth so jars can properly seal.
  16. Replace lids and rings tightly and place in water bath canner for 15-20 minutes.
  17. Remove jars and place on towel on counter to cool. Do not try to cool with cold water; the jars may break.
  18. Jars should seal; the lid should pop down and when pressed it should not move, bulge, or "snap back." This can take a few minutes or as long as overnight.
  19. Redo any jars that do not seal. (This step is NOT true with all canned items. Check the recipe or if unsure, promptly use or refrigerate any unsealed jars. If refrigerated use within a few days.)
  20. ALWAYS use new lids when canning. They are inexpensive but used lids are often bent and won't seal. Rings can be re-used over and again; actually the ring is only for holding the lid in place until jars are sealed. They can be removed after jars are sealed unless you are using the jar, lid, and ring to hold foods in the refrigerator that are not canned or processed.

Fermentation Odors

Remember that the corn is fermenting, just the same as wine. When I first made homemade wine, the beginning fermentation smelled very strong to me. Now I'm used to it and hardly notice it. So if your corn gives off an odd smell, don't worry; it is a sign of fermentation.

Canning Supplies Are Essential - Jar Lifter and More

You will save yourself a lot of grief if you have the right supplies for canning and preserving. It makes the entire job easier and safer. I have tried the "make do" way and for less than $10 you can have a canning tool set that will last for years if cared for properly.

Word of Advice: Keep your canning tools in the box and stored in the pantry or cabinet. If you place them loose in drawers they will get separated and misplaced, and members of your family (like my husband) will make off with them to perform little "odd jobs." It only takes a few minutes after clean up to dry and place back in the box.

Back to Basics Home Canning Kit - 286
Back to Basics Home Canning Kit - 286

This inexpensive kit featured here has everything you need including a jar lifter, a magnetic tool for removing lids from sterilizing water, kitchen tongs (this one will get swiped for barbecuing so keep out of sight), a funnel, and a jar wrench.


Boil Water First

Water should be boiling BEFORE you add the corn when cooking to freeze or can. If you add the corn and then bring water to a boil, you are cooking the corn longer because it must boil the correct amount of time. When I am cooking the corn to eat fresh off the cob, I cook it differently and I will post a link to that recipe in a bit.

Image is by Me ZigPop

Corn Cooling in Ice Water

Overcooked corn is tough. Some people only boil their corn for 1 minute before cooling in ice water. Others will cook it 4-5 minutes. This is a matter of preference, and the variety of corn may have something to do with it too. We plant a hybrid variety of Sweet Yellow Corn known as "Golden Queen." We've tried it both ways, and corn was easier to cut off the cob after cooking just a bit longer. For pickled corn, we cooked it 3-4 minutes. For fresh corn on the cob, we cook it differently and I'll post a link back to that recipe.

Image is by Me ZigPop

Cutting Corn

After cooking and cooling in ice water, we lay the corn on clean towels to dry and then start cutting. This starts out being fun, but after 100 ears or so your arm gets really tired.

Image is by Me ZigPop

Plenty of Corn Fresh Off the Cob

Whenever we harvest corn, we generally eat some for supper. I made creamed corn with some of this. I put the corn in a saucepan, then added milk and butter. I heated slowly and salted and peppered. It was delicious. We also froze some after putting up the pickled corn.

Image is by Me ZigPop

Corn and Pickling Salt

The corn is cooked, off the cob, and in the jar with the pickling salt. The top rim and outside of jar will be carefully wiped down before jars are sealed.

Image is by Me ZigPop

Finishing Up

Getting the Corn Ready to Pickle

I am about to put the lid and ring on these after I top them off with water. I will then gently "swish" from side to side to distribute the salt throughout the water and corn.

Image is by Me ZigPop

Corn is Ready to Pickle

Ready to Go to Work

The corn is now cooked, cut off the cob, and in the jar with pickling salt; jars have rings and fresh clean lids. It is ready to pickle in a cool dark place for 9-14 days.

Image is by Me ZigPop

Food Preservation - Do You Or Don't You

Do You Do Any Canning or Pickling?

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ZigPop loves to hear from visitors, so drop a line and let me know you stopped by. Have a great day!

What Is Your Favorite Pickling Recipe? - Feel free to leave a comment.

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      Rhonda Ramey 3 months ago

      Another question I have is after the corn has worked & I'm ready to process, do I need to heat the corn thoroughly ( 180 degrees) & then repack into clean jars, etc before I process in the water bath? A quick reply would be greatly appreciated:) I'm getting close to that point:) LOL Thanks

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      Rhonda Ramey 3 months ago

      I'm in the process of letting my corn working off:) a question I have is, when it's time to water bath my corn, do I need to replace any water that has worked off? And can I clean the lids and reuse them or do I need to use new ones? Can't wait to have my pickled corn with pinto beans:) Thanks

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      Diana 17 months ago

      Thanks so much for this recipe. My grandmother also pickled corn in a crock. I have been trying for years to find a recipe for salt brine pickles. Would you have a recipe you would not mind sharing? Thank you

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      Helene Brumback 2 years ago

      Been trying for some time to find a recipe and instructions for pickle corn cut off the cobb using salt and vinegar and water recipe and putting it into jars using the hot water bath instead of letting it ferment under the sink .No one knows how ,I did this years ago ,but can't remember the recipe or instructions ,my daughter is craving this .Some body help please .