Saturday, August 29, 2009

Putting Up Corn

My friend, Jackie, and I decided to "put up" some corn today. We bought three dozen cobs at the farmers market and spent the morning shucking, blanching, slicing, and freezing. I really like my new food prep lingo.

First, we blanched the corn in boiling water for three minutes. Then, with great satisfaction, we plunged the cobs into cold water to stop the cooking process. We sliced the kernels off the cobs, let them cool, and loaded them into freezer bags. Just over an hour later, we had enough corn to make us some chowder on a cold November day.

This is the year that I want to learn more about food preservation. I spent the afternoon yesterday with another friend, Krista, making chili sauce and red pepper jelly. Last year I froze a lot of veggies: stewed tomatoes, beans, red peppers, leeks, and ragout. I plan to do more of that but I also want to can some salsa and tomato sauce this year.

Jackie and I discussed a short story we'd both read where a woman accidentally kills a dinner guest by feeding her preserves contaminated with botulism. We think it was Alice Munro. Regardless, we've both been skittish of the canning process as a result--perhaps a whole generation exposed to that story in the high school English curriculum turned their backs on the arts of food preservation. Thanks to some Canadian author, we now buy our produce from California during the winter. Anyway, I also read that tomatoes are so acidic that botulism can't survive. Phew. That's why I'm starting with tomatoes.

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