This past Saturday I woke up with the sun and made the hour-long drive with my husband and a good old cup o’ Joe back down to my aunt and uncle’s farm in Iowa. My memories of putting up sweet corn were not all rosy! As a child, putting up sweet corn always came the day after the week-long county fair came to an end. Needless to say, I was less than enthusiastic to help put up sweet corn when it was joined with an early morning and a long day of hard work. Yet here I was excitedly making the trek down to help.
Putting up sweet corn begins with picking the fresh ears off the stalk. The corn stalks stand at approximately six feet tall and field corn can easily reach 12 feet tall!
Once the corn has been picked, the corn husking begins…or is it corn shucking?! My uncle George and I debated this very thing while sitting on the tailgate of the truck shucking corn. I decided to do a little digging around online and found that either term is correct. I tend to use them interchangeably. We had a good laugh that as a Nebraska native and Cornhusker fan, I was corn husking in Iowa!
After removing the outer husk from the corn, we carried the shucked corn by the bucket full up near the farmhouse to be silked and rinsed. Silking corn involves removing the silks, or thread-like strands, from the ears of corn. Typically, we rinse each ear while we silk the corn. We were able to speed up this process by renting a corn desilker machine from a fellow farmer. This machine was truly amazing as it removed the silk and rinsed the corn at the same time!
Once all the ears had been shucked, silked, and rinsed, the operation moves inside!
Next up was cutting the kernels off each ear of corn. The only way to do this is by using an electric knife. My aunt Laurie and I both tried our hand at this job multiple times throughout the day, but ultimately we decided that my uncle George took the cake on this one. We were in awe as he just zipped right through each bucket of corn. In our defense, he has been doing this for years! He has been putting up sweet corn since he was a child growing up on his mother and father’s farm in the same town.
After cutting the kernels off each ear of corn, we measured the corn kernels in big pots to cook in batches over the stove. We ended up cooking a little over five batches. A few batches used 36 cups of corn and a couple batches held 45 cups of corn!
Each batch included sweet cream butter, sugar, salt, and water. The corn was placed on the stove, brought to a soft boil, and boiled for seven minutes. Next, we placed the corn in a colander over a large kettle, and drained off the liquid from the corn kernels. Then we laid out the corn on cookie sheets to cool.
Once the cooked corn has cooled, it is time to bag it. We primarily scooped the corn into pint-sized zip lock bags, however we also had several quart-sized bags, and a few gallon bags too. We added a few tablespoons of the melted butter and cooking liquid back into each bag and sealed them to be put in the freezer.
And there you have it folks…putting up sweet corn in a nutshell! That’s a wrap!