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Freezing Sweet Corn

Rose Hartschuh - Friday, August 12, 2016

I was supposed to write this post Monday. It's now Friday. That's kind of how the week has gone. But, I do have a good excuse for being tardy. You see, I've been racking my brain all week trying to come up with the perfect blog post. Finally, this evening, covered in corn from head to toe, I thought, "Hey! Maybe somebody wants to read about how to freeze corn." If you do, great. If you don't, humor me.

Since I was already elbow-deep in sweet corn with I had my eureka moment, I didn't care to snap any pictures. But, with the help of my good friend Google, I'll illustrate this post nonetheless. There are probably 15 dozen ways to freeze sweet corn. Different strokes for different folks. Here's what we've found works best for our house. We tweak the process each year. We started the turkey fryer method last year in an attempt to keep as much of the mess as possible outside; it definitely helps! Here are the steps we follow.

Select your ears for freezing. We have a sweet corn patch on our farm, so we head out there and pick. No patch? No problem! Head over to The Market and stock up. Ethan still has a good supply of sweet corn, and it is delicious! To pick the perfect ears (without pulling the husk back and peeking!), feel the ears. You should be able to feel full kernels clear up the ear. The husk should also be bright green, not faded. That shows you that the corn was freshly picked. Finally, avoid ears with tassels that seem really dried out. That's a sign the corn has been sitting a while. Fun fact: do you know the difference between field corn that you see in large fields along the road in our area, versus sweet corn? Field corn (also called dent corn) is used to feed livestock, make ethanol, and thousands of other bio-based products like carpet, make-up, or aspirine. Sweet corn is different. It is harvested when the kernels are soft and sweet, which makes it great to eat! 

The next step is to husk your ears. We never worry about getting every piece of silk. While the ears cook, some of that silk will fall off. We husk our ears directly into a tractor bucket, to make it easier to haul away. Fun fact: do you know why corn has silk? I'll simplify the explanation. Corn produces both male and female flowers on the same plant. The silk is the female part of the corn plant, while the tassel at the top of the plant is male. When corn pollinates, the tassel releases pollen, which sticks to the silk. Every potential kernel has its own strand of silk. If the silk catches pollen and transports the pollen to the corn plant's ovary, that ovary is fertilized and develops into a kernel of corn. If all of the ovaries are fertilized, then the ear is completely filled with kernels. If there are a few kernels missing or they are poorly formed, those ovaries were not fertilized or were aborted during development. That happens a lot in dry years like we're experiencing. 

Like I said, we started using the turkey fryer method. We set up a turkey fryer (which apparently can be used for lots of things other than frying turkeys, especially since this turkey fryer has never had a turkey in it!), and fill it with water. The fryer has a burner fueled by a propane tank. We fill it with water and then fill the slotted basket that sits inside the fryer with the freshly husked corn. We let the water come to a vigorous boil, and then we leave the corn in for an additional 10 minutes. Fun fact: All fruits and vegetables contain enzymes that, over time, break down the destroy nutrients and change the color, flavor, and texture of food during frozen storage. Heating the corn destroys its enzymes. 

When the corn is cooked, we carefully remove the slotted basket and dump it immediately into a tub of cold water. By plunging the corn in the cold water, it stops the cooking process. Nobody likes overcooked corn! The cold water also cools the corn enough to start cutting it off of the cob. 

 

Once the corn is cooled, we start cutting it off the ears. We just set a table right outside for our work station (nothing like hosing it off when you're done!) Again, everyone has their own way of cutting corn. I've tried lots of different sharp objects, and luckily I've never lost a finger or required stitches. However, for simplicity and safety, I love the Pampered Chef Kernel Cutter (and I'm not getting paid to say this!) It is super-easy to use. This year, I used a bundt pan to hold the ears while I cut them into the pan. It worked nicely. A simple web search for "cutting corn on the cob bundt pan" will bring up tons of images for the visual learners out there! I tend to be a messy worker, so this was the step that ultimately did me in last night. I was covered in corn milk, but I was thankful that the mess wasn't in my kitchen.

Next, scoop the cut corn into freezer bags. Think about what size of bag will work best for your family. We went with quart bags, which seemed like a lot of corn, but they usually feed our family of four two meals. You want to fill the bags evenly, and, of course, make sure they are sealed properly. After all of this work, you don't want freezer burn!

The last step is to place the bags in your freezer. Cool them as quickly as possible to maintain flavor and freshness. When you are ready to cook the corn, place it in the microwave for 3-4 minutes. You don't have to cook it, just warm it up.

Admittedly, freezing corn is not one of my favorite jobs. However, heating up fresh, frozen corn in the middle of winter makes it worth it. Do you do any food preservation at your house? What are some of your favorite tips or tricks? Leave them in the comments below! 

 

Thanks for reading,

Rose

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