My little sister Mollie is not only beautiful and talented, but she’s got a knack for doing things very quickly these days, because she has a new babe in her arms.
The new babe’s name is Milo. I think I’ve mentioned him before. I kinda have a thing for babies, you know.
Of course you’ve heard that old adage that if you want something done, you ask the busiest person in the room to do it, right? (I’d bet that the ‘busiest person in the room’ doesn’t appreciate this adage!) I’d amend that advice to say if you want something done, ask the mom of a new (not too new, mind, give her a few weeks) baby. Her pregnancy–delightful, but it had gotten tiresome, and limiting and maybe even loathsome–is over at last, she has welcomed a beautiful new little person into the world and her life has begun anew. She is brimming with optimism and creativity and joy. She is recalled to life! She is (dare I use this overused word) empowered. (And in my opinion, she deserves all the little perks out of the deal that she can get!)
She knows how to get things done, and get them done quickly. She is the real originator of the saying “get ‘er done!” Well, not really, I just made that up. But in any case, she is a wondrous powerhouse, and she is my little sister.
So Mollie shared with me a new way to get sweet corn in the freezer. It is a fairly common sight in the Midwest, to see families gathered together “doing up corn” for the freezer. Many farmers put in a few rows of sweet corn for family and friends, along the edges of their fields of row crops. I usually grow my own sweet corn in my garden–I like experimenting with different heirloom varieties, you know–but I don’t grow very much. Corn takes up enormous amounts of garden space, and I just don’t have the room to plant more than a few rows.
But every year I am the recipient of sweet corn from a generous personage or two in my life. This year, two good and thoughtful friends showed up with bags and boxes of sweet corn–to my delight–freshly picked and ready for a pot of boiling water. But since I had already been buying excellent corn from our farmer’s market vender, Rita, the fam was pretty much already corn-on-the-cob-bed out. Honestly, we pull it out and eat it for lunch and dinner nearly every day, during High Corn Season. With relish. Actually, with butter and lots of freshly-ground pepper and salt. Until one day when I bring a big bowlful of steaming sweet corn to the table, and nobody touches it. On that day, I realize that we’ve reached the point of Sweet Corn Saturation for the year.
You can’t buy decent sweet corn in the store after the season is over, so can you blame us? So we had a couple bushels of corn to put up, and I wasn’t exactly looking forward to the chore. My usual method–stripping off the husks and silks, and then blanching the corn in boiling water, and then cutting the kernels off the cobs and stuffing in freezer bags–is a sticky, silky, husky, messy, job. But I was preparing to do it, to have some bags of really delicious sweet corn in the freezer for my loved ones. I’m indulgent like that for my family. You know me.
The frozen corn you can buy in the store is hardly worth the money, and let’s not even mention canned corn (gak). I was calling together reinforcements (in the shape of Amalia and little Mack) to help, and girding my loins. Figuratively speaking. Getting the knives out. Alerting the broom and the mop that there would be work to do, in an hour or two.
And then Mollie called, to tell me about a brand-new way to put up corn, that was really fast and super-easy and hardly even messy! Believe me, Gentle Reader, I was all ears (sorry!). I went right to work, and this method was everything that Mollie said it was. It was just so easy. And really fast. And yes, it hardly even made a mess of my kitchen, to my mops’s relief. I don’t think I’ll ever go back to my old way.
We’ve firmly established that easy is good, have we not? So, without further ado, here’s how you do it, and in these pictures we are putting up the excess of our sweet corn harvest, which is why the ears are not the usual color. (I planted the heirloom variety “bloody butcher” by the way, and was really happy with it.)
Here’s what you do: First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Pile your corn in there. Roast for 30 minutes, while you go on your merry way, tra-laaaa! Read a book! Cavort in the woods! Watch a short television program! The 30 minutes is totally yours!
Next: fill your sink with cold water, and when the 30 minutes has passed, pitch those babies into the cold water, and let soak for 15 or 20 minutes, or until they are cool enough to handle. You may have to drain it and refill with more cold water, if your sink is full enough. But you’re smart. You’ll figure out if you need to do this or not. (I didn’t need to.)
Now comes the fun part: grab your helper (“Amaliaaaaa!”) and pull the soaked cobs out of the sink one by one and pull off the husks and silks. We let them drop into 5-gallon buckets at our feet. If you’ve done corn up the usual way, you’re going to be smiling all over at this point. It’s so easy to clean the ears off, a baby could do it! Little Milo, pictured above, could probably do it. It’s so much easier than pulling them off when they are uncooked. And you know how hard it is to get every strand of the silks off your cobs? Yeah, you remember. They just fall off with the husks, as if by magic!
Easy is good. Magic is even better! Check out the photo below: do you see any annoying silks left on the corn? No!! Isn’t that awesome?
Now that your corn is nice and clean, you can go about the process of cutting the kernels off the cobs. As a matter of fact, my own dad invented a new way to do this, too, this summer. He took an angel-food cake pan, and stuck the cobs in the middle tube one at a time, and just shaved off the corn kernels with a sharp knife that way, and they just fell into the well of the pan. Nifty, eh?
Once you’ve got the kernels cut off the cobs, you’re ready to stuff them into freezer bags and then to stuff the bags into the freezer. Ta-daaa! This corn will taste just wonderful when you pull it out this winter and cook it with a bit of butter, and of course some freshly-ground salt and pepper. Your family will be good and hungry for it again, by that time, and they will respond with delight and sparkling eyes and grateful looks cast your way, because you’ve gone to the trouble to do this, just for them.
And you will respond with demure smiles and a shy ducking of your head, because you’ll know that the entire process was so easy. And quick. And hardly even messy, at all.
There ya go, Gentle Reader. Has a neighbor recently dropped a bushel of sweet corn at your place, or do you want to take advantage of the excellent corn at the farmer’s markets, that are only there for a few weeks? Now you’re ready–get set–go!!
Hey, every Monday I like to participate in the Prairie Homestead Blog Hop, and you might want to take a gander over there if you like to learn from do-it-yourselfers about all kinds of cool stuff!