Welcome to our garden...... where dreams grow and memories bloom.

I am not a professional anything. I'm not a master gardener, I am not a chef, I am not a horticultralist or naturalist. I am not trying to live off the grid, or prepare for the acololypse, or go totally organic. What I am is a 40 something single mom who works full time and attends graduate school full time and is trying to build a life that teaches some values, and skills to her children while giving them some memories to carry into their adulthood.

We are starting from scratch. We have virgin land that needs a lot of work. We have plenty of time and imagination, but a shoestring budget. We may not do everything right, in fact we probably won't do much right. But we are going to do it together, and that is what matters.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Indiana Sweet Corn

There is something about Indiana Sweet Corn that I love.  Actually there are a number of things about Indiana Sweet Corn that I love.  Maybe it is because growing up our house was surrounded by farmland and in the fall when school started you could smell the corn waiting for the school bus.  Or maybe because during breaks during marching band summer practice in the parking lot of the high school and during football games when the wind blew right you could catch a hint of corn reminding us that while we were a big city school, we were as far out of the city as you could get.  Maybe it is because I drove up and down I65 between Indy and Purdue during college and in the hot sun the corn permeated the air.  Or maybe it is because I love how sweet corn tastes.  Whatever the reason, I love when the sweet corn starts to come in.

The past couple of years we have been lucky enough to share in the harvest of some especially sweet Indiana corn grown by a family friend on their Hoosier Homestead farm.  It is truly the sweetest sweet corn I have ever tasted. 

Putting sweet corn up in the freezer is a day long process.  Worth every second!

First you need a bunch of sweet corn; the fresher, the better.

This corn had been picked at 6am that day.

The corn then has to be shucked ... and cleaned (noone looks good with corn silk in their teeth).

Clean corn means you are half way there.  The next step is to blanch the corn and cut it off the cob.  Blanching is an important step because it stops the enzymatic action that converts the sugars to starch, preserving the color and taste.  Freezing only stops the cellular activity related to spoilage, it does not stop the enzymes from converting the sugars.  You can either steam or boil to blanch vegetables.  I've never tried steam blanching so I cannot really say that boiling is better, but I've always used boiling.  Yes, in case you were wondering boiling water to blanch corn is HOT! work. 

 This year due to a particular set of circumstances, we had to use the grill outside to boil the water for this step of the process.  While the set up was happenstance, I can guarantee that we will be using the grill from now on.  The water came to a boil easily in the cast iron pots and the house stayed nice and cool. Joy of cooking recommends 1 gallon of water per pound of vegetables.  I'm not much of a measurer, so I fill my pots with enough room left for the corn to fit.  Mrs. Rombauer and Mrs. Becker list 3 to 7 minutes as the optimum time to blanch corn that is to be cut off the cob.  To be totally honest, we started the day using a timer set at 5 minutes for each batch but by the end of the day corn went in and came out based on when I remembered to transfer it from the hot pot to the ice bath.  (The ice bath is critical as it stops the cooking process). 

Once thoroughly cooled, you can cut the corn off the cob.  A corn cutter or a knife works for this.  I am much more handy with the knife than a corn cutter and my family prefers the corn in more nugget pieces and the corn cutter gives more of a chunky creamed corn result.

Fill your freezer bags or plastic wear and transfer the corn to the freezer as soon as possible.  I guess you should date your produce, but since we have no intention of letting any of our yummy super sweet Indiana corn go to waste it will all be gone by the time we repeat this process in 2012 we skipped this step.

Don't forget to hold back a few good ears to reward yourself at dinner.  We almost forgot to keep some back for eating until the very end.  We ended up with 30 quarts of corn cut off, a dozen ears frozen on the cob, and a dozen for eating that week out of the special delivery from our friends. 

Not too bad for a day's work.... and come December/January we will certainly be thankful for a taste of Indiana summer.

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