Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Freeezing Corn In Five Stations

    Corn freezing day is a busy, busy day. When corn season arrives we set aside a day to pick up our corn from the growers (we haven't mastered the art of growing our own yet) and freeze it all in one day. It's rough becuase there are a lot of steps and a lot of dishes get dirty -- so that's why we hit it all in one day.
    This year we did about 30 dozen ears, but not all of it was for us. Some friends of ours bought half of it and came to help us process it. We also did a few dozen for another family. So in the end, we froze about 30 quarts for ourselves. 

    We have this process down to a science. It is done in five stations: (1.) Shucking, (2.) Washing, (3.) Blanching / Cooling, (4.) Cutting, (5.) Freezing. This five-station process really makes things efficient and it helps everyone to stay busy because once they get tired of one station they can switch with someone else. I'll explain each station as we go along ...

Station 1: Shucking 
    We lay a tarp on the ground under our climbing tree in the shade and set up out camp chairs on it in a circle. We then drag the bags of corn from the car to the chairs so everyone has one. The ears get put into bowls or piled on empty chairs while the husks go into the center on the tarp. Keeping the shucks on the tarp makes clean up easy because all we have to do is drag the tarp up to the compost pile and dump it in. 

Station 2: Washing
    This is the least favorite job because your hands get so cold, but it's an important one. The shuckers get a lot of the silk off, but it is the washer's job to get it all off. We run the garden hose up to our climbing tree where our large galvanized tub sits surrounded by little stools. Once the corn it shucked it is transferred to the tub where it is scrubbed.

    Here's a piece of $1,000,000 advice: Use kitchen drawer liners to get the corn silk off. Don't bother with the expensive corn brushes or anything like that. Just cut up a couple drawer liners (the ones that are pictured above are the best kind) into squares and use it to rub the corn clean.

Station 3: Blanching / Cooling
    This year we put the gas stove outside which loved because it didn't make the greenhouse so hot and unbearable for the cutters. This is where the corn gets cooked and ready to be cut off the cob. We have a large strainer which we pile the corn into and then lower into the boiling water. Make sure the water is boiling because if the corn isn't cooed enough it will go bad, even in the freezer. Leave the corn in the water for 3 minutes before taking it out and dumping it into frigid water to cool. After the corn isn't warm anymore it can be transferred to the cutters.

    My brother and the little boys manned this station. It was my brother's first time (hes usually on the cutting or shucking team) and he did a fantastic job, not only cooking the corn, but helping the boys feel involved. They were in charge of watching the timers and making sure they always got tuned on.

The waterfall that my brother invented to help the corn cool faster

Here, my sister is acting as a go-between as she takes the corn from the blanching / cooling station to the cutting station.

Station 4: Cutting
    This is the messiest station, but it is also the most coveted in our family for some reason. We have cutting boards inside cookie sheets or baking dishes in order to catch all the corn and keep it contained. We cut as close to the cob as we can and then after we've cut off as much as we can we scrape out knife down the cob to catch all the creme and juice we can.

    This is pretty messy, but after the corn is all preserved we get out the hose and spray everything down. I can't believe that we used to do this in the kitchen. Because corn really does stick to everything because its so starchy. 

Station 5: Freezing
    Last station! Here we just scoop the corn out of the cutter's bowls with our hands or with measuring cups into plastic containers, Ziploc bags, seal-a-meal bags, or glass jars. We try to freeze a meal's worth in one container so that's all we're thawing at a time. We tried all kids of different containers, but we eventually began to avoid freezing things in plastic so we turned to jars.

    Wew, corn day really is a long exhausting day, with clean up that lasts a couple more days -- but the corn is so good especially when it's locally grown and preserved with our own hands. What could be better?

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