You can tell I’m a glutton for punishment when I spend 7 hours in the kitchen canning tomatoes and immediately head outside to start husking sweet corn.
What can I say… it needed to be done.
Isn’t that a glorious site? All those sweet delicious kernels just begging to be added to my winter pantry (aka the garage attic).
Since I didn’t want to spend time on canning day husking these bad boys, I decided to do it the night before. Now there are people that will poo poo this method, but as far as I’m concerned it doesn’t do any harm to the corn whatsoever (remember, I’m a canning rebel). As long as the ears are in a covered container in the fridge, the moisture content of the corn isn’t diminished.
I’m tellin’ ya, working on that corn sure brought back a lot of memories. When I was young husking corn was one of the summer chores us kids had to do. Dad was a farmer, and one of his crops was sweet corn so whatever we needed, we got. And as soon as that corn was ready in the field, it started making it’s way home to either be smothered-in-butter-corn-on-the-cob for supper, canned or frozen for winter use, or sold at our roadside stand. When it wasn’t sold, us kids would all be perched on the garage stoop husking grain bags stuffed with sweet corn.
And Mom expected it to be clean, so you learned real quick how to pull those leaves back, parting the silk down the middle so you could take off as much with one pull and not have to spend any extra time picking stray strands off from between the rows.
We became professionals in no time flat. All these years later, I quickly fell into that routine and had those 62 ears clean as a whistle in less than an hour.
Now there are two schools of thought on how to prepare the corn for canning: blanch the ears in boiling water (approximately 3 minutes) and then cut the kernels off the cob, or just cut them off raw. I opted for the blanching method.
Just like with the tomatoes, we’re going to give them a bath to get them all nice and clean. I actually soak them for about 5 minutes to get any tiny worms that were hiding in the rows outta there (worms love corn). This is also a good time to remove any kernels that may be a tad bit uggy.
I’ll also chop off any excess of the corn stem so that it will stand up better when I’m cutting off the kernels.
While they were getting sparkly clean, I got the water ready for blanching. If you want to get the water boiling quick(er), put a lid on it. All that heat stays in there to get the water up to temp faster.
I’ll blanch between 4 – 6 ears at a time, occasionally flipping them around to make sure that all the sides get heated.
With my sink free again, I fill ‘er up with cold water and ice cubes for a quick cool-down after their blanching (this sounds a lot like canning tomatoes, doesn’t it).
I’ll put my colander to use again to drain the corn after it comes out of the ice bath. This way when I set them in the staging pot where they wait to be de-kerneled, the bottom row won’t be sitting in water for an extended period of time. My corn is spoiled.
Quiz time: Which ear has been blanched*?
OK now let’s make a mess! If you don’t have a fancy schmancy corn cutter (like I’m going to have next year), grab a nice sharp knife and start cutting downward on the ear. You’re only gonna want to go about 2/3 of the way through the kernel and try to avoid cutting any of the cob.
Don’t get frustrated if you grab more or less on the first couple ears. By time you’re done with your first dozen it will seem second hand to ya.
I took a break after I had enough corn to fill my first batch of jars. The best size for Rick & I is 1/2 pint, so I’m gonna make as many of those as I can until I run out of jars then I’ll switch to pints.
This was also the perfect opportunity to use the 23 Quart pressure cooker I got from my girls a couple years ago. I could double up the rows to fit 24 of these small jars in it.
Filling the jars is a cinch! You want to fill the jars loosely with corn to within an inch of the top. As with the tomatoes, I stopped at the bottom ring of the jar. Since I had blanched the corn previously, I only had to boil up some water in the tea kettle and pour it over the corn. I’m not going to use salt in these, but if you want to, go for it.
Since my stove is old as dirt, I had to position the canner over 2 burners to get enough heat under it. When steam started coming out of the vent pipe, I set my timer for 10 minutes. After that time was up, I set the pressure regulator on top of it and waited for the dial to come up to 11 pounds pressure as recommended by the canner instructions.
*Note: I have 2 pressure canners with the other being 12 quart with a weighted gauge on it. I’ll use that one on my second batch, which will be smaller.*
With my pressure in the canner up to 11 pounds, I set my timer for 55 minutes which is how long it takes to process corn in 1/2 pints and pints. It is important to adjust the heat of your burner to keep the pressure as consistent as possible.
When the timer goes off, shut your burner off and wait for the pressure to come down to normal before removing the lid. This monster pot was heavy, so I lifted it off the stove (praying I didn’t get a hernia) and set it on the rug on the floor. Getting it away from the original heat source (which was still hot) helps it to cool down a little quicker.
My original plan was to immediately get my other canner filled and going to shave some time off my stint in the kitchen, but I had forgotten that I had to use the cooking rack from the smaller unit to make my second tier on the first go-round.
Best laid plans…
When the pressure was back to normal on the first canner, I could get the jars out (with the jar lifting tongs, of course) and set them on their towels to cool and seal. It didn’t take long for the popping music begin!
My 5+ dozen ears of corn yielded 31 half pints and 2 pints of corn. I’m more than happy with that yield.
Using a pressure canner can be a little scary the first time you use them, because there are a few more things you have to be aware of and watch than the simple water bath. But for low acidic vegetables, it is the only way to heat it to the proper temperature to kill any bacteria from forming to spoil your food.
Always make sure that you do your research on how to can your produce, from which equipment to use to processing times. Once you have become comfortable with the basics, start looking at all the other things that can be preserved: meat, stews, broth… the possibilities are endless!
The nice thing about preserving your own food is you get to control what you are putting into your body. What you’re eating isn’t full of preservatives and you’re not paying some big corporate entity for your food.
Sure, it takes some time, but once you start opening those jars and taste real food, you’ll wonder why you didn’t start doing it sooner.
* The one on the left. See that wonderful shine it has? Actually, you can probably eat it at this point. (I snacked on a few kernels as I was cutting them off. Don’t tell anybody.)