Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Freezing Summer Corn For Winter Pleasure
Lessons Learned From Growing Corn

Growing corn is fun. Eating it all winter is fabulous!

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Growing Corn
This year we made our first serious attempt at growing corn. It was fascinating - you could almost stand there and watch them get taller. As you can see in the picture above, they grew about 12 feet tall. 

I love corn and I especially love knowing exactly what I am eating. I know that our corn is organic and non-GMO so we have no worries there. 

I would like to say our first corn crop was a complete success but we could have done things a bit better. Here's what we learned in case you want to give it a try next year.

Lessons Learned
#1 - As you can see from the above picture, I definitely placed them too close together. I planted about 35 plants in a 4' x 8' raised bed. I think half as many would have been better. They still would have been close enough to wind pollinate but not be so close to block out the sun and create a cozy nest for pests.

Tassels hold the pollen which falls down upon the corn silks
The pollinated corn silks turn into kernels of corn

#2 - Speaking of pests, we learned that aphids love corn so keep an eye out for that. Hose them off and spray with insecticidal soap.

#3 - One positive thing I learned is that you don't have to hand pollinate corn if you have enough of them. The wind will do it for you. So many people on the web show videos of gardeners painstakingly hand fertilizing each corn silk. It looked like too much work for me so I let nature take its course. Thirty-five crowded corn plants managed to produce 48 ears of pretty nice corn so that was good enough for me.

#4 - Test a cob each week to check for ripeness. We let ours go too long and they were a bit tough. Thankfully they will still be good in soups and chowders. But next year we will definitely pick them earlier.

#5 - Be careful where you plant them or they could shade other parts of your vegetable garden. My strawberry patch was so happy yesterday after we harvested the corn. They haven't seen the sun in weeks!

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Freezing Corn
I thought the best and easiest way to save the corn for winter would be to freeze it since we don't have a pressure canner. Here's how to do it. 

Shuck the corn. Remove the outer leaves and silks. Here's a great blog post from a midwesterner that gives some good tips on how to clean corn

After you have cleaned all your corn, bring a large pot of water to a boil and fill a large bowl with ice water.

Blanch the corn in boiling water for 4 minutes. Do not set the timer until the water comes back up to a boil.

Submerge the cooked corn in ice water.

Dry the corn by placing the cooled corn on towels.

Remove kernels from the corn. My husband has a trick for this. He breaks the corn in half and cuts it while on its side. This prevents the kernels from flying all over the kitchen.

Place in freezer bags. I generally like using our vacuum sealer but to make it easy, I just used 1 quart zip-lock bags. After placing about 2 cups of corn kernels in each bag, I gently moved the kernels around until they separated.

Remove the air and spread out the corn in a thin layer. I was able to fill 12 one-quart freezer bags with 2 cups of corn in each one. So my 48 ears of corn yielded 24 cups of corn kernels. Not bad for 35 seeds!

Date the bags and freeze.

Need some ideas for all your garden produce? For more than 150 healthy recipes and gorgeous photographs, check out my eBook, Health Begins in the Kitchen. 

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