Wednesday, July 29, 2009

How to Can Fresh Corn


It’s that time of year again, the local farmers are just beginning to pick their sweet corn, and little side of the road fruit stands are popping up everywhere. I have tried to grow corn in my own garden but the conditions where we live are just not conducive to growing corn. Willing to admit defeat but still one who loves to enjoy fresh vegetables year round, I now buy sweet corn by the bushels and can it. With a large family meat takes up the bulk of my freezer space, so for me the best way to preserve fresh corn is to can it, which sounds hard but is really relatively simple.

When canning corn the first step is to find your corn. The ideal ear of corn for canning is ripe, not bloated, with kernels that are tender and can easily be punctured by your fingernail. The type of corn you choose to can is up to your personal taste, you can sweet corn, white, bi-color, or yellow corn.

After you have your corn you will want to assemble what you need to can it. For starters, you will need a pressure cooker to can corn. A water bath canner cannot be used when canning corn; it must be a pressure cooker. You will also need a large pot to boil the corn in (I use a soup stock pan), a medium sized pan of boiling water, slotted spoon, a soup ladle, canning jars with lids and rings, a wide mouth funnel, and a sharp knife.

Once you have everything assembled you will want to shuck your corn. It is important to remove all of the silk from the ears of corn. I use a soft bristled vegetable brush to remove any leftover silk.

Now that your corn has been shucked it is time to remove the corn from the cob. The easiest have found to do this, is a little tip I learned from Rachel Ray. You will need a large bowl, and a small sized bowl for this. Take the small bowl and turn it upside down inside of the large bowl. This should provide a platform to place your cob on while you cut it, and the corn will fall into the larger bowl as you cut the corn.

After you have cut the corn from the ear, you will want to place it in a bowl of water. All of the excess hair and cob from the corn will float to the top of the water. I take a spoon and remove the junk as I call it from the bowl of corn.

The next step is to heat the corn. To do this you will want to place all of your cut corn into a pan and bring it to a boil. Once the corn has reached a boil, let it simmer for about five minutes.

Now you are ready to pack your jars. Since you are putting hot corn into the jars, you will want to heat the jars. You can do this in one of two ways, by warming the jars in a water bath canner, or you can do like I do and heat them in my dishwasher on the sanitize cycle.

When your jars are hot you can use your wide mouth funnel to help put the corn in the jars. You will want to use a slotted spoon to remove the corn from the pan it was cooked in, because you will not be using the water you used to cook the corn in your jars. While you are doing this you will want to bring a medium sized pan of water to a boil. Be sure to leave about an inch and a half of headspace in each jar.

Now is the time to add any spices that you want to add to your corn. I usually only add about a tablespoon of sugar to each jar, to help the sweet corn maintain it’s sweetness. Some people also choose to add salt and pepper.

Once your spices have been added you will want to add the water you have brought to a boil to the jars. You will only want to add enough water to just cover the corn, again be sure to leave plenty of headspace in your jars. Now it is time to put your lids on your jars. You will want to wipe down the outside rims of the jar, and place a clean lid on each jar, using the ring to secure it.
After the lids are on the jars you are ready to put the corn into the pressure cooker.You will want to add about two to three inches of water to the bottom of your pressure cooker before putting your jars in. After you have the water in your pressure cooker it is time to add the jars. Once you have added the jars, tighten the lid on your pressure cooker and you are ready to go.

To process the jars you will want to build ten to eleven pounds of pressure in the pressure cooker. Once you have reached this point, you will want to continue to process the jars for an additional twenty-five minutes.

After the twenty-five minutes have passed, remove the pressure cooker from the heat. Do not open the lid of the pressure cooker until the pressure gauge has returned to zero. When you do open the pressure cooker, you can gently remove the jars to a towel where they can cool. When the jars are cooled check to make sure each lid has sealed.

A bushel of corn should net you anywhere between eight to eleven quarts of canned corn.

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