Our abbreviated garden is finished with its sweet corn crop for the year. This family loves corn. I do not like frozen corn, though. Too mushy? I dunno… something about it. This year I’m freezing it in glass jars and see if that changes the texture (as opposed to being in plastic baggies). If it’s no good, then next year I’ll do the full-on liquid canning. The smaller jars work great for our individual meals and are easier for me to measure in recipes and schtuff… so glass it is.
Preserving food is really, really easy, Folks. The issue is TIME. It takes a little commitment. None of this farming stuff is hard. But it does take time, effort, and repetition that we are simply unaccustomed to these days. Why spend 2 hours shucking corn for 10 measly jars when I can buy a can for 72 cents? It’s certainly not time-efficient. If you look at it from that standpoint, canning and preserving is absolutely not worth it.
What used to be necessity and good planning is now a test in patience and frugality. You can buy anything you want at any time of the year… there is simply no need to can or preserve anymore. Our culture has traded more time for a loss in personal effort into your own food, personal input into your own food, and company. Canning (and quilting and harvesting and branding and planting… and all that ol’ time stuff, really) was a time when people worked together. The chore falls quickly to the background as conversation starts and stories are told and laughter or debates begin. Now that we are so efficient with our time, we sit in front of computers to make up for the lost company. It’s a strange trade-off. But, we are all victims of progress in one way or another.
Here’s the simple process: gather, clean, cook, and pack.
Curt and Rylie pick all the corn and throw it in a wheelbarrow. The next morning, Ry and I shuck and clean all the ears. Now, remember our garden is a wasteland this year… no fertilizer, no weeding, no nothin’. Not every ear of corn was worth canning, but that’s ok. Not every good ear was trimmed of every single kernel, either. Our chickens were happy to handle the leftovers.
I started a big pot of water and waited for it to boil. I added salt and butter… just a little. Then, about 10 ears of corn at a time. We’re blanching here- boiling for a short amount of time to stop the growing enzymes inside the vegetable. You boil for, um, 5 minutes? Big shoulder shrug here… I waited until the corn was bright yellow and then took it out. You’re supposed to plunge it in ice water then to completely halt the cooking progress, but I was unprepared and out of space. I boiled for less time and let it cook a little more while cooling down. Don’t tell your gramma. I’m a rebel.
Ok, the corn boils for about 5 minutes and cools down. Cut the corn off the cob. Put that corn in your jars. Put the lid on and shake like mad to help pack it down a bit, and then add a little more corn on top. Repeat everything until all your corn is gone or all your jars are full or you are about to die of heat stroke. Put all your jars in the freezer. Take all the leftovers out to the animals.
[You can see my work station above: stock pot full of boiling water, roasting pan of uncooked corn waiting to go in, tray of blanched corn ready to be trimmed off the cob, jars at the back for filling, coke for breaks while waiting for corn to blanch, waste bucket for trimmed cobs.]
2010 sweet corn yield • 8 pints, 6 12oz. (corn from our garden; cost $0)
I’m keeping track of the grocery items we’re replacing over in the the right column. So far, we’ve got corn, strawberry jam, and pickles. Lots more to go!