I had no idea what I was in for after I walked away from the sweet corn stand at the farmer’s market with fourteen ears of corn. Fourteen ears of terror later, I am here to tell my story.
I thought freezing corn was going to be a breeze with my new Oxo corn stripper (inspired by Susan over at Thoughtful Consumption), a contraption that cuts off the kernels and holds on to them while you cut. Well, pride comes before a fall.
The first step in freezing sweet corn is, of course, to shuck the corn. I remember my siblings and I shucking countless ears of corn on the front steps of the house into five gallon buckets. Sometimes it was for freezing, sometimes it was for boiling and eating straight off the cob. Just when I was wishing my sister was there to help me, I remembered that she would probably eat all the corn before I had a chance to freeze it.
When it comes to sweet corn, I’ve heard that if the worms don’t want to eat it then you probably don’t either. Well, this corn must be where it’s at because I swear there was a worm in every ear. I know they were there first, but I bought that real estate out from under them and it was eviction time.
After I got done shucking, I grabbed my corn stripper thingy and anticipated a smooth ride from there on out. I’m thinking that Susan may need to come give me lesson in how to use it because I was having a heck of a time. It worked
ok until about half way when the blade jammed too far into the cob to keep going. So it was too shallow in the beginning and too deep half way in. Plus it was a struggle to get there. Then it slipped and lodged itself into my thumb, and that was the end of the corn stripper tool experiment.
I washed and wrapped my bleeding thumb and came back for more, this time just using my plain old kitchen knife to scrape off the kernels the old fashioned way. It was working just fine, but as I cut it sent kernels flying all over the place. Now In addition to the tool
frustration, I was losing precious produce all over the floor.
Enter the Engineer. Test subject Bill must have heard me cussing in the kitchen, which usually sends him to the basement, outside or to Taco Mac, but this time he came to my rescue. I described the problem to him in excruciating detail. Next thing I knew I had The Corn Shield. Who knew my CSA box and some plastic wrap could be so handy? With Bill’s new invention I was on my way and finished up the rest of my corn with limited casualties.
Once the cobs were stripped it was into a boiling water bath for the kernels. Once the water returned to a boil, I left them in there for about two minutes, then rinsed them off in cold water. From there, I packed glass jars with corn and a little bit of water. To the freezer they went…finally.
These past few weeks after doing all this canning and freezing, I have really come to develop an appreciation for all that women used to go through just to feed their families over the long winter. I’ve worked my tail off and have enough preserved food for a few weeks. And
they didn’t even have the convenience of a freezer. It was canning, drying, fermenting or root cellaring.
Think about how dependant they were on these preservation methods. If something happens to my batch of canning and it goes bad, I’ll be irritated and disappointed. If it happened back in the day it could mean starvation. I’ll just go to the grocery store. They would have to ration…or worse.
I recently watched the movie The Book of Eli. In the movie, the world has experienced a devastating war. People live much more primitively. Technology is present, but largely unavailable. The main character, Denzel Washington, is constantly in pursuit of clean water. One of his lines that I can’t stop thinking about is when he is describing the world before the war to a young girl. “We had more than we needed,” he told her. “We didn’t know what was precious.”
I plan to try to remember what is precious, and be thankful for it.