Preserving Sweet Corn
Preserving local vegetables for consumption in winter months is a time-honored tradition, and sweet corn, which is so abundant right now and really, really good this year, is one of the easiest vegetables to put up for winter use. It is hard to find the time, believe me, I know. Just get your hands on a couple dozen and you will definitely save money (one bag of frozen organic corn is around $3, right?), and you may even be enjoying Lancaster County sweet corn on your Thanksgiving table. Here's some tips to make it happen:
1. Preserve corn ideally within 2-6 hours of purchase. If you can't process it right away, keep it in the refrigerator or on ice (just not at room temperature). The sugars begin to break down quickly in any kind of heat.
2. Put the largest pot you have on the stove and fill it 3/4 full with water, enough so that you leave room for the ears and the water won't boil over once you've filled it with corn. Bring the water to a boil.
3. Meanwhile, shuck the corn, removing as much of the silk as you can without getting obsessed/going crazy. Trim tips that may have worm damage (it's commoner with organic corn).
4. Once the water is boiling, add shucked corn. Depending on your pot size, don't overfill. Bring the water back up to a boil. After it boils again, blanch for roughly 3 minutes.
5. Fill the largest bowl you can find with ice water. After blanching, add ears to ice water to stop further cooking. Depending on how much you are preserving, you'll need to replenish the ice bath water with ice cubes as you go. A good rule of thumb is to cool for the same amount of time that you blanch the corn (so if you blanch it for 3 minutes, cool for 3 minutes.)
6. Cut corn from cob at about 3/4 the depth of the kernel. I read on one site that readers recommend using a Bundt or angel food cake pan, so that you can put the ear in the whole and then catch the cut corn in the trough of the pan (smart!)
7. Place kernels in freezer bags or plastic containers. If using bags, make sure you get as much air as possible out the bag, and try not to overcrowd the corn too much in the bag. If using plastic containers, leave 3/4 inch space at the top of the container to allow for expansion during the freezing process.
If you're looking for more complete instructions and more tips about quantity, what type of corn to buy, how to make cream corn, etc., the Penn State Extension has a great PDF available, outlining pretty much everything you'd want to know about preserving corn.
Additionally, I've found a couple great recipes that feature corn, since it's so plentiful right now. Admittedly, we often prepare it as tried and true corn on the cob, with butter and salt because it make such a quick side to most summer meals, especially seafood (I'm dreaming of a bucket of crabs right now) and grilled meats. But you can grill it in the classic Mexican style, make a mean corn salad, put together some succotash, or make it into fritters, cold corn soup or fritters…so many possibilities.
Creamy Corn Pasta with Basil
Elotes (Mexican Street Corn)
Fresh Corn Salad
Corn & Jalapeño Fritters
Summer Succotash with Bacon & Croutons
Indian Spiced Corn Soup with Yogurt
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Green Circle Organics specializes in local and organic produce, dairy and minimally processed, locally produced foods. Since 2003, we've been operating out of the historic Lancaster Central Market, providing a channel for farm fresh, organic and specialty foods to reach city dwellers and visitors. Check here for recipe ideas using the seasonal produce and other goods we sell at our market stand and for our Produce Box home delivery service.