Last summer was the first year that I attempted to “put up corn for the winter”. I love corn on the cob and wanted to be able to enjoy that fresh wonderful taste all year round! Last summer I did them in batches – picked up a dozen here, two dozen there…but this year I decided to just make one big mess and do it all in one day. Either way works, I just usually believe that if you’re going to make the mess, make it worth your while.
The things you will need are:
- Ears of corn (I got approximately 100 ears from a local farmer. That should be enough corn to last the two of us for the winter, since I’m mainly the one who eats it).
- Something to dispose of the husks in as you work (I used a five gallon paint bucket that I emptied into large paper yard bags – I didn’t want to add all of those husks at one time to my compost pile, thought it might be a bit much)
- A container to put your cleaned ears in as you work (I have a huge old metal tub that belonged to my grandparents, worked perfectly)
- A large pot to boil the ears in (the bigger the better)
- A container of comparable size for ice water to cool the corn in after it’s boiled
- A container/bag to put the cobs in after cutting off the corn (I re-used the five gallon bucket that I had used outside for putting the husks in as I cleaned)
- Ice (for this project I bought a 20 pound bag and used almost all of it)
- Someplace to put the corn before you can cut it off the cob (an empty sink works great, I was running out of large containers!)
- Kitchen timer (oven or microwave timer works fine)
- A sharp knife
- A cutting board
- A bowl to put the cleaned kernels in after you cut them off the cobs
- Storage containers/bags (foodsaver works great, more on that below)
Once you reach the boiling step, it’s important to have everything ready to go – you won’t have a ton of time to be gathering necessary items once you get things rolling. Being prepared with everything is a huge help and makes this way less stressful! The process:
- Husk the corn. Get as much of the silk off as you can. If there are any bad spots, cut or break them off. I enjoyed the gorgeous day yesterday and did that outside, that way you don’t have to worry about making a mess in the house (at least for this part!).
- Fill your pot about 1/2 to 2/3 full of water and put on to boil (basically you want as much water as you can so that you can still add the corn and let it boil without overflowing).
- Fill your large ice water container in the same way. I start by adding just cold tap water, and then leave a little extra space for adding some ice once the corn goes in.
- Once the pot comes to a boil, put in as many ears of corn as you can comfortably fit in the pot. It’s important that it’s not TOO full; the water still has to be able boil once the corn is added. If you add the corn and it’s not boiling again within half a minute or so, you have too much corn in the pot. I can fit a dozen into my large stock pot at one time.
- Let the corn boil for five minutes.
- Use the tongs to remove the corn and place the ears into the cold water bath. Add some ice so that it stays really chilled, even after putting the hot corn into the water.
- Let the corn sit in the cold water for five minutes, then remove. At this point (if you are doing a large batch) you’ll sort of start a cycle – when the cold corn is done, you’ll take it out, immediately put the hot corn into the cold water, and then put new corn into the hot water. You can reuse the hot water, add more if you need it as you go. Conversely, you will end up overflowing your cold water container as you keep adding ice – so remove some between batches.
- Once you have the cycle going, you’ll have a few minutes in between each batch. I use that time to start cutting corn off the cob. You will never keep up (unless you are using a very small pot with only a few ears at a time!) so that’s why I recommend having a container (in my case, sink) to dump the cooked/cooled cobs into until you get around to them.
- To cut the corn off the cob, just use a sharp knife (a paring knife is plenty big enough), hold the corn by the fat end with the pointy end down on the board, and slice the corn off from top down. Most cobs take six slices to get all the way around. Let me tell you – corn is going to fly, and there is nothing you can do about it. You will have to clean your entire counter and probably vacuum also when you are done. I gave up trying to clean it all up between each cob after about five of them! Cut the kernels as close to the cob as you can without actually cutting into the cob itself. You’ll be able to feel where the resistance really starts.
- Put the finished kernels into a bowl. Some of them will be stuck together in strips, that’s ok – you can stir it all up before putting into bags if it bothers you.
- Once you have that whole mess done, it’s time to put the finished kernels into storage. Last summer I was able to put the corn right into foodsaver bags, and they kept perfectly throughout the winter. However, this year the corn I bought was so incredibly fresh (I got it at a farm around 9 AM and the corn had just been picked that morning!) – it was too juicy and I couldn’t get the foodsaver to seal. I read online to just freeze the corn first and then put into the foodsaver bags within a couple of days. If you don’t have a foodsaver you can use regular bags or containers, whatever works – but by the end of the winter you might have a little freezerburn. The foodsaver definitely keeps it fresher.
- That’s all there is to it! Again – a lot of hard work (especially if you’re doing a large batch), but it’s nothing complicated. From start to finish, for 100 ears of corn this took me about 8 hours (and that was doing it by myself, if you have someone to help you of course things can go faster).