Freezing Sweet Corn

>> Saturday, August 11, 2012

I know it's truly summer when sweet corn comes into the local farmer's market. Today I put up 21 quarts of some gorgeous butter & sugar corn to enjoy this winter. The ears are HUGE this year, yielding some of the sweetest, juiciest kernels I've tasted in a long time. Here's what my morning looked like . . .

The corn came into the market this morning shortly after 7:30 am. Thirty minutes later I was there to pick up the two bushel I had reserved. The faster it goes from stalk to freezer, the sweeter and juicier it will be when we enjoy it later. By 9 am my guys were busy husking out by the front sidewalk, and I was setting up what I needed to process the corn once it came inside.

I use a couple of good-sized stock pots to blanch the corn, so I got them half-full of water and on the burner before I started anything else. It takes a bit of time to get that much water to a full boil. The rest of my "tools" are pretty simple ... a large, sharp knife; 2 cake pans; large spoon; tongs; measuring cup; plastic pitcher and quart-size freezer bags.

Once the corn started coming in from outside, my pots were at a full boil. So I dropped 4-6 ears of corn into each pot (depends on the size of the pot) and blanched them for 4 minutes. I start the timer as soon as the corn is in the water ... no waiting for it to come back to a full boil. If it is boiling good to begin with, it will return to a boil within a minute or so. I leave the same two pots of water boiling the entire time I'm processing corn. After every three or four loads of corn, I add fresh water to re-fill the pots.

As soon as the timer goes off, the ears come out of the water into another cake pan, and head into a sink full of icy, cold water. Some folks recommend actually putting ice in the water. I've never felt the need as we draw our water from a well, and the cold water is numbingly cold!  A good 5-6 minutes in the water stops the cooking process and seals in that juicy goodness. From the cold water bath, the ears move to the dish drainer to drain. I find I need to replace the cold water every 2-3 batches in order to keep it icy.

Next comes the messiest step ... taking the kernels off the cob (de-cobbing!). Standing each ear on end in a cake pan, I use a sharp knife to slice down the sides of the cob to remove the kernels. Careful not to cut into the cob itself. The kernels come off in rows which will fall apart when you defrost and cook the corn. I always make sure I have a large, flat surface to work on. There's quite a bit of corn "spray" that happens each time you slice, so cleaning and mopping is a must once you're finished.

Once my cake pan is full of de-cobbed corn, I open a quart freezer bag and set it inside a plastic measuring pitcher for stability. Measuring out one cup at a time, I fill my quart freezer bags with four cups of kernels each. Next I carefully close each one, pressing out as much air as possible. I try to keep my eyes open during this step for any stray pieces of silk or corn husk that might have crept into the mix. After filling 5-6 bags, I take them to the freezer and lay them in a single layer, flat on a freezer shelf. This gives them a good start on getting frozen more quickly, and allows them to stack easier once you're finished.

Just under four hours later I put the last bags into the freezer .. happy to think of eating the delicious corn this winter when it's snowing and blowing outside. I ended my morning's work by enjoying a dish of freshly cooked sweet corn and a slice of homemade zucchini bread. Yummy stuff!

YIELD: Two bushel of corn (10 dozen ears) = 21 quarts



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