Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Freezing fresh Iowa sweet corn

We did a little experiment last year with freezing sweet corn when it's at it's prime. My mother had one method, which is a little more time consuming... J's dad had yet a different method that was a little less work. We did both, then decided that mom's method reheated the best the following winter.

First dad's method:

Step 1:

Boil the corn for only 5 minutes (instead of the usual 7); take out and let cool. Take entire ear of corn, kernels, cob and all, into a gallon size freezer bag.

When reheating, boil for 7 minutes.

First issue is that the corn wasn't hot enough after 7 minutes. And while the taste was there, the texture of the corn and the color was off on some kernels.

My mother's method is as follows: Note: it is a 2-day process, but if you break it into batches like I do, it's manageable even with my health issues. My mother used to do 80-100 ears in a day, but I don't have that kind of stamina nor energy. Plus, without a vegetable garden of our own (we live in a townhome), it's just easier to pick up a dozen ears when it's fresh. We do it in batches by buying 12 ears of corn when we can only eat a couple... which lets us spread out the freezing process through out July, early August.

Step 1:

Boil the corn for only 5 minutes (instead of the usual 7 and a nice match to dad's method); take out and let cool. I tend to do 4-6 ears at a time, depending on which pot I'm using; and just set them aside. So, in this case 12 ears of corn on sale for $5; we eat 1,2, 3 ears with our meal... the rest get set aside. Takes me approx. 20 to 25 minutes to clean and boil this much corn. By doing batches, that also allows me to clean the next four ears while waiting on the timer.

Once it has cooled completely, you are ready to do step 2.

Step 2:

Then using either a corn stripper (we liked this one 'ok' as at least it was adjustable to the size of the cob); or a steak knife to just cut off the kernels (my preferred method, it's a little more time consuming, but allows you to get more of the kernel than most of the strippers do). I find it more manageable to break the ears in half before cutting them (less variety between size of cob, more control while cutting... and let's face it - with my clumsiness, anything I can do to improve control, the less likely I am to cut myself). You do NOT want to cut so close that you get 'cob' in with your corn.

I do not take the time to break up any 'slabs' of the kernels. When I was a child, I used to sneak out to my mom's freezer and grab a slab to snack on while it was still frozen. This takes me approx. 15-20 minutes to prepare, cut up and spread out slightly.

Lay out a piece of wax or parchment paper on a cookie sheet, and spread the corn out over it. 4-5 ears of corn per cookie sheet worked best for me. 

Step 3:

Stick these cookie sheets as-is in the freezer somewhere they are unlikely to get tipped over or spilled.

Step 4:

Next day, you can 'break' up the frozen corn into reasonably small 'chunks'. My mom, ever frugal, used a 3-gallon sized re-used ice cream container to store her frozen corn in, I found gallon bags work just as easily for us and easier for us to remember we have local corn frozen come picking out something to eat. This takes me usually around 5 minutes. Two cookie sheets fits nicely into a single gallon freezer bag.

Make sure to label the bag, you'll appreciate it if it gets buried with other freezer items and you can't remember if it's from the last summer or five summers ago (I do not recommend eating it if it's been in your freezer for five years, just sayin').

We reheat it in the microwave for around 5 minutes with quite a bit of margarine mixed in (personal preferences), use 1/4 cup of water if you are trying to reduce fats and use less butter.

When you can only eat 2-3 ears of corn in a meal; yet you can find $5 - 6 per dozen ears of corn on the local corner bought from a local farmer... you can buy a couple of dozen ears and we find that it tastes even better in the middle of winter just because it's such a unique sweet flavor, getting to enjoy that out of season is a yummy treat.

Forgot to add, the other benefit of freezing it this way is that you have a little more control over how much corn to reheat. Five guests, take half the bag, just one person, take a lot less.

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