So, you’re bopping through the local farmers market and you see, lo and behold, late season, fresh corn on the cob, 8 for a buck. You wanna snap ’em up, but then your little voice of reason says, “Wait, that’s too much! What will you do with all that corn before it goes bad?”
Next time you find yourself in this scenario, slap that little dude off whichever shoulder he rides on and buy the produce, be it corn, beets, green beans, whatever.
Buy as much as you can handle and then preserve it for the cold months. Believe me when I tell you that, come January, corn that was local and fresh in September, properly preserved, is gonna shine all over that other stuff from God knows where.
It’s easy, fast, and actually fun, so let’s do it.
As we’ve been preaching here long and loud, there’s a bunch of way to keep stuff for later; whether you freeze, dry, can, pickle, ferment, or stick it in the root cellar just depends on what it is and how you’ll best be served down the line.
For corn, freezing makes great sense. If you do it right, you’ll have amazing fresh taste in the darkest months. Freezing takes no special equipment whatsoever. If you have a vacuum sealer, so much the better for product quality, but if not, no big deal, zip locks will do.
The basics are as follows: prep, blanch, shock, package – that’s it, easy as pie!
Prep is as easy as the veg you’re working on. With corn, you need to decide whether you want cob on or off, of course. Personally, I see no reason at all to save the cobs; they do nothing for flavor, and you’ll have less work before you if you get ’em gone now. That said, to do the preserving work, all you need to do right off the bat is shuck.
Blanching means just a quick heating through; the idea here isn’t to cook, it’s to stop enzymatic activity that can cause issues with flavor and appearance, and to give a really good cleaning to your veggies. Blanching time is critical, ’cause doing it too little can be as bad as too much. Head over to the NCHFP for specifics on time and methods other than hot water. I lightly salt the blanching water and let the salt fully devolve before you toss the veggies in. You want a nice, even rolling boil for your blanch, so let it get fully up to temp as well.
Stopping the limited cooking of a blanch is equally as important; that’s your shock, and you want to do that in an ice bath. Your bath should always be 50%-50% ice and water. Make your container big enough to completely immerse your food. The proper rule of thumb is to shock for the same time you blanched; that’ll assure that you put a proper habius stoppus in the process.
NOTE: Official Pro Secret Revealed.
Blanch and shock is great process not only for preserving, but for general meal prep as well. In fact, it’s another great secret to restaurant cooking that you’ll do well to know and employ. Come on gang, you didn’t really think that your fave eatery individually prepped and cooked each and every portion of perfect green beans one by one for 100+ covers a night right after you ordered it, did you? No sirree, I’ll guarantee you that the reason yours and everybody else’s looked and tasted great was due to blanching and shocking; try it, you’ll like it, and your guests will wonder how come your veggies look so much better than theirs do at home….
OK, so once that’s done, it’s time to get the kernels off the cobs. Set yourself up a production station, and be careful,
Last step, get ’em packaged for freezing. Air is the enemy of course, so vacuum sealing is best, but if you don’t have one, use ziplock bags and suck the air out manually; that’ll do a good enough job to get you throug the winter with nice fresh corn (or beans, peas, etc) at the ready.