Sunday, July 25, 2010

children of the corn

We had a windfall. Tabitha's father planted ten rows of sweet corn. It is in ideal conditions, an old fallow garden spot that he planted beans in last year then a cover crop of turnips through the winter. A healthy dose of chicken and cow manure tilled and planted. He coddled the corn early then left it to it's own devices.

Today was a day of bounty. Late morning I picked four of the ten rows of corn, only the top ear. Tactile memories from my child hood covered me. The sound of a breeze rustling in a corn field is specific. Tearing corn from the stalk, I have done this in a previous life.

Before I left the "show-canner" needed to be set to heat water for corn blanching. Our new grill has almost the exact footprint as the amish canner. All that heat could happen out-of-doors.

Once home the shucking of the corn began. Toly was the first to help in earnest. Then everyone got into the act.

My neck knife was the exact tool for the job of cutting the wormy ends.

Tristan takes his work very seriously.

He has inherited the meticulous gene from my mother.

Everyone helped even Rome.

Working together, saving food for winter what could be better?

These kids know where their food comes from.

I taught Tristan a nice method for getting all the silky hairs.

Sweaty and hot, Tabitha requested that I take off my hat for a photo.

I own a very sharp knife. The best thing is, it stays really sharp. Anyone that cares about "the little things" should have a knife like this.

Admittedly I'm biased my friend Patrick forges knives and made this one for me. After cutting the tips from corn cobs all day I will be able to shave with this knife tonight. It might seem machismo but having a really sharp knife around your neck but it is incredibly practical.

Tabitha has a neck knife also. She claims that it has changed her life.

We started by collecting jars from the root cellar and pump house. I went and picked the corn while Tabitha cleaned the jars and got the canning stuff ready. I arrived home with about four bushels of corn.

As you can see shucking the corn was a family affair.

We assembly line worked the corn until it was ready for blanching. The USDA canning guide said three minutes in boiling water.

I plopped them into cool water to stop the heat.

Then the corn queued up in the cooler with milk cartons of ice.

in the end the cooler might have been able to hold three or four more cobs.

Having all that heat outside really made sense but it sure was hot out there over that boiling pot.

Tabitha had all the jars ready for corn and came out to the production line.

We brought all the corn inside and started processing. I used an electric knife and a bundt pan to hold the cobs. It seemed to to do an excellent job.

I didn't try any other method. I can't say if it is better than specific corn knifes or not.

We chose the hot-pack method. The corn must be brought to a boil then put into the jars.

I was cutting corn so fast that my hands were a blur.

Here is my skinny wife packing the jars.

She stopped eating wheat and dairy. This has had a huge affect on her metabolism. Now when I say "I'm watching my girlish figure" it is Tabitha that I'm talking about.

Here they go--fingers crossed.

I finally got smart and got a stool to sit on. A knot started in the center of my back while standing.

Just ignore that huge pile of papers Tabitha is cleaning it today, really she is...

The corn was beautiful and very tasty.

Here is a picture of some of the final product.

There was a grand total of 19 quarts and 36 pints.


Ed said...

A sharp knife is also a safe knife. I've cut myself pretty good more than once with a dull knife and now try to keep them as sharp as possible.

My weapon of choice for getting sweetcorn off the cob is a mandolin on a cookie sheet. Once you set the depth, you can remove corn two or three times as fast as using an electric knife. I imagine with your quality version mandolin, you could put go even faster than I can with my cheap-o plastic one which I am just waiting for it to break so I can get one like the one you have.

karl said...

Ed, That is brilliant *an imaginary light bulb just lit above my head* Hey what is your blog address? I used to have it. Alas not since the browser update a while back.

Ron said...

Wow, that's a lot of corn. Looks great! The last time we saw corn in that kind of quantity was when we could buy it right outside the cannery up north...


jenny said...

We use a mandolin for cutting corn too! Makes quick work of it! One year, I managed to cut over 125 ears in less than 15 minutes with my mandolin. We boil our corn in salty-sweet water, then freeze in jars. First time I used that recipe from my mennonite friends, we were eating it right out of the pan! Very tasty. I hope our corn will do well.. It was a poor showing last year and I missed the freezer full of corn.

I really need to get me a pressure cooker... it scares me a little, but I know it just needs some respect and time to learn how it works.

Love all the photos of the family shucking corn together! Makes doing what we do all worthwhile!

Angie said...

I just love how your kids really help out, always puts a smile on my face. i hope to be canning corn in late august too.

Ed said...

Glad I could help out. Enjoy all that corn!

Wendy said...

That's some lotta corn! Looks delicious. I love the pics of the kids shucking.

One of my favorite pictures of my girls is them sitting outside in our camp chairs under umbrellas shucking the corn. I don't recall if it was supposed to rain or if they were just trying to keep the sun off, but regardless they look hilarious. They got the corn shucked, too ;).

LannaM said...

Wow. I'm still drooling at the finished product photo. Sigh. Don't suppose you guys want to take a break and come visit me and help me fill up my pantry in a few weeks? ;)

Sissy said...

Now this is what I call organization in assembly line fashion. Beautiful jars of corn. You all certainly know how to do things.

Moonwaves said...

Wow. They look fabulous. And it looks like you all had a good time getting involved in the process. I saw my first mature corn plant up close at the weekend. I've passed by fields of them on the train many times but it was only on Saturday that I had a chance to go and look up close at the few we have growing in the community garden I volunteer at. I hope I'm there on the day they decide to pick some!

motherofblessings said...

That corn looks great! Could you please ask you wife to write about quitting dairy and wheat?

karl said...

Ron, Yeah we really like corn and this was so perfect. Every year since we have been here we have threatened that we will travel to the local Amish town and buy sweet corn. This was better.

Jenny, If you get a pressure cooker like ours it is not scary at all. Beyond being noisy the pressure rocker is easy to see when it starts relieving pressure. All American pressure canner made by Wisconsin aluminum foundry.

Angie, We love how they "help" too. They generally love to be involved with any project. It is the daily grind where "help" wanes to fooling around.

Wendy, I fondly remember shucking corn on canning day as a kid. We are in the business of making memories.

Lanna, It is funny how working that hard makes you appreciate your food. Our pantry is never full enough--especially with three growing boys.

Sissy, Beyond putting food by, it was a home schooling moment. The kids were part of a logical process trying to be efficient, safe while having fun.

Moonwaves, I grew up running through corn fields in Michigan. It really was tons of fun.

Mother of Blessings, When Toly got sick we were trying everything. At that time Tabitha went off wheat and dairy. It changed her metabolism. She started to loose weight. Then along came Rome and pregnancy. After Rome was born Tabitha lost weight but only to a point. The plateau seemed impassible. She decided to go off wheat and dairy again until the cow calves. It really seems to be working. By then her metabolism should stabilize and her new weight should be easier to maintain. She'll likely stay off wheat unless it is fermented like in her famous sour dough bread. She might have something to contribute also.

LannaM said...

Oh, I know the appreciation factor all too well - I had my hubby build giant shelves in a basement room for my hundreds of pretty jars that are now dwindling and empty because it's almost harvest time again. My kids are just barely younger than yours (3 boys, 1 lone girl) so I'm a bit frantic to fill it back up again, albeit it's just me and the kids 80-90% of the time (aka, more challenging for me).

Taylor said...

Awesome! Me and one other person once tried processing a bushel of corn. It was hard work- having a team of helpers would have made it much easier! The corn looks awfully yummy glowing in the sunlight, there. I bet it will be a real treat come winter.

Annette said...

That looks fantastic. Our corn didn't fare well at all this year (neither did any other corn around here that we've seen planted - the whole area seems to have had a no corn season), so we wound up at the farmer's market, buying some to process for freezing. There's nothing like homegrown, though, and in the winter it's like eating summer from a jar.

Tammy said...

I seem to remember posting here only one other time. It may have been after you had a car accident, I'm not sure. But I just have to say... of all the blogs that I read, yours is truly one of my favorites. Your ingenuity inspires me. A bundt pan to process corn?!? Brilliant!
I'm curious about your wife cutting out wheat & dairy. I may just visit her blog to see if she expounds on it.
Keep of the good work!

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