In my family, preserving sweet corn is cause for an annual family gathering that happens every July or August. A couple months in advance, my grandmother will reserve several dozen ears of corn from a local farmer. She and my mother pick up the corn, then everyone gathers in one home or on one porch, and they begin the process of shucking, silking, blanching, and freezing. As a child, I would use the discarded corn shucks and silks to make corn shuck dolls (sort of like this, but definitely not as fancy). That kept me busy for hours, and I thought I was “helping.” Ahh, memories.
About half of the corn was wrapped in foil and frozen on the cob while the other half was cut off and cooked cream-style using my great-grandmother’s recipe. That recipe is one of my fondest memories of home.
At the end of the day, the finished product was split between our individual homes and freezers, and we all enjoyed it throughout the year to come. The same would be done with tomatoes, beets, pickles, etc. It’s a fair amount of work, but oh-so worth it.
Last year my Aunt managed to get her hands on a corn machine- the likes of which I had never heard before. She borrowed the machine from a friend who made her promise not to tell anyone about it. Their thinking was, if people found out about the machine, they’d call and ask to borrow it. After all, who wouldn’t want access to a magic corn machine that can perform hours of work, easily, within a matter of minutes?!
So my Aunt did exactly what anyone else in the family would do who was tasked with keeping a big secret- she called my mom and told her to come over immediately. That’s how my mom managed to snap this photo of the top secret corn machine. Long story short, in case you ever wondered, yes, there are easier ways to process a large amount of corn, but we’ve been sworn to secrecy. That corn machine is now akin to the Loch Ness monster.
It’s funny how food brings people together. And how a familiar taste or recipe can conjure up memories. As summer is now drawing to a close, harvest season is in full swing at the market. We urge you to take advantage of nature’s bounty. Buy some produce for supper this week, and put some away for later. You can even get the whole family involved and create traditions. You’ll thank yourself this winter when the snow is piling up outside and the taste of summer can still be found right there in your own freezer.
(Monroe Farmers Market volunteer)
A few recipes to try this month…
(From the Smith and Hawken Gardeners’ Community Cookbook)
2 cups fresh corn kernels (you may use leftover corn)
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter melted
vegetable oil for frying
Place all of the ingredients except the oil in a medium bowl and blend well to make a wet batter. Set aside for 15 minutes or til thickened a bit. Heat 1/4 inch of oil in a saute pan. drop heaping tablespoons of the batter into the oil. Fry over medium high heat, turning once until golden on both sides about one minute. Serve right away with maple syrup.