Savor the flavors of everyday real food, fresh from the garden or stored on your pantry shelves.
Freezing fruit and produce is one of the easiest ways to preserve the bounty for the colder months. Corn is especially yummy to pull out of the freezer during the winter as it can maintain its sweet fresh-picked goodness if done right. And, it's really easy to do.
Corn needs to be grown in a large stand to germinate well. Unlike many other crops, it isn't pollinated by the bees, but by the wind. Each silk coming out of the top leads directly down to a kernel so every strand needs to be pollinated individually.
After it is picked, it only takes 6 hours to turn from a sugar into a starch. That's why so many corn dishes eaten at restaurants taste starchy. But if you can get it into the freezer quickly, it keeps its sweet, sugary flavor.
I go to my local organic farm to be there when they open at 9am. I always ask if the corn is today's and they always answer "yes." So, I buy about 2½ dozen (they give 13 for a dozen) and head home.
I put the water on to boil in my steamer (you can also boil it) while I shuck it. This is best done outside as the silks seem to fly all over. I bring the corn in on a tray and I get a huge bowl. I fill a small cooler with ice. Then I put six ears in the steamer (or water) and set the timer for 3 minutes.
I fill the bowl with cold water and throw in about six ice cubes. When the timer dings, I transfer the corn to the bowl.
After it cools, I place the ears on the table. Using a sharp knife and a small bowl, I cut the kernels off the cob.
Then I transfer the corn into quart bags, seal and shape so that they will stack well.
About three ears will fill one bag. And into the freezer they go! I get about eight quarts from this process. When I use the corn, I generally only take part of the bag. This whole process — from the minute I leave my house to get the corn until it is in the freezer — takes about 2 hours. I do it twice a summer. So, for 4 hours of work and very little money, I can have fresh-tasting corn all year long. It's delicious in soups, stir-fries and stews.
Berries are another easy to freeze option. I use an old yogurt container to which I have affixed a string to place around my neck. This leaves both hands free for picking.
Berries that grow on bushes like blueberries and blackberries don't even need to be washed (of course, I only pick organic). Many pick-your-own areas offer pretty good deals when their berries are ripe. Farmers also will often give discounts if their fruits are bought in bulk.
Get together with some friends and see if you can save some serious money. Once you have the berries home, place them on a cookie sheet in the freezer. That way each berry will freeze individually.
When you put them into bags, they stay separate. If you just put them into the bags right away, they will mush together and you won't be able to separate them for pancakes or muffins.
Spending just a little time getting ready for the cooler months will not only save you some serious money, but will make your winter much more fun. Now's the time!
Celeste Longacre and her husband, Bob, have lived sustainably for more than 35 years. They grow almost all of their vegetables for the year and preserve them by freezing, canning, drying and using a home -built root cellar. Celeste ferments much of the couple’s produce and makes her own sauerkraut, kimchee, and fruit and beet kvass. She is the author of Celeste’s Garden Delights and writes a gardening blog for The Old Farmer’s Almanac. For more information, visit Celeste’s website, and read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.
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