Monday, May 19, 2008

Farmer's Markets, Freezing corn

Growing your own food isn't the only way to save money on groceries. If you don't have enough space, or if you just don't have the patience or knowledge to grow your own veggies, find a farmer's market or produce stand. Not only will you get the freshest possible food, you will be helping local growers as well.

There are some things that I just suck at growing. Like tomatoes. If, for some reason the bugs don't get them, some other critter will. So I have given up on them. My dad always plants way more than he needs and gives me some. Last year, he gave me 2 5 gallon buckets full. That was something like 35-40 pounds of tomatoes. So I made salsa and spaghetti sauce.

I don't have the space to grow bush beans or corn, both of which my family eats a lot of. So I will be finding farmer's markets and folks selling from the back of a truck to purchase these things this year.

1 ear of corn will equal about 1 can of store bought. If I can find sweet corn on the back of a truck for 2 dollars a dozen, that is the equivalent of about 16 cents a can. And I can control the amount of salt in it. Personally I don't use salt in my corn. And it is very easy to put up.

All you need is a cookie sheet, quart freezer bags, and a very sharp knife. Shuck and silk the corn. Hold the corn by the small end and cut the corn kernels off of the corn cob. You want to cut the kernels about half way to the cob, maybe a little bigger. Any closer than that you will start to cut cob. The edges on the cookie sheet should keep the corn from flying all over everywhere. Turn the cob after every cut so you get all of the corn off. Don't throw the cob away yet, you will need it in a little bit.

When you get all of the corn cut, or your cookie sheet gets full, fill the freezer bags. I generally don't fill them packed tight, but a little over 3/4 full is good. I will explain in a bit.

When all of your corn is cut from the cob, now you use them to make cream corn. Hold the cob the same way, but turn your knife around so that the flat side is against the cob. You are not going to be cutting this time, you will be scraping. Firmly slide the back of the knife down the cob. This is getting the germ, liquid, and any remaining pulp from the cob. Be VERY careful with the sharp edge of the knife. After all of the cobs are scraped you can throw them away. You should now have a pile of very juice corn pulp. This is your cream corn. You can either put it in a bag just like it is, or if you have a partial bag of cut corn, you can add it to that. Either way, it is exceptionally good.

The reason you don't want to fill the bags all the way full is because if the corn is looser in the bag, it is easier to just take out what you need for each meal. You don't have to cook an entire quart every time make corn. If I am making vegetable soup, I may only need a handful. If I am making dinner for my family of 4, I might use half a bag. If I have company, I will probably use the entire bag. But if it is packed tight into the bags, the kernels will freeze together and make it hard to just get a little out at a time. You just have to make sure that you get as much air out of the bag as possible before you put it in (or back in) the freezer. You can do this by shaking the corn to the bottom of the bag, then rolling the bag up before you reseal it. Freezer burn is caused by air drying in the freezer. Less air, less freezer burn. This goes for everything you put in the freezer.

I would also suggest you use good quality bags. The generics are fine for short term freezer storage, but for long term, use the good bags. They will keep out more air and not be as likely to get torn or pop open in the freezer. That is important because it is a real pain to clean corn kernels out of the bottom of a chest freezer.

This corn should keep up to a year as long as it doesn't freezer burn.

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