Freezer corn is a summer chore that pays big dividends all year long

By Vicki Hyatt | Aug 03, 2014
Mountaineer editor Vicki Hyatt and her husband, Rich, are shown at the end of Day 2 of a weekend preserving corn for the winter. The cattle enjoyed the shucks from Saturday, and will get the Sunday shucks later in the week.

If you ever are invited out to dinner and your hostess serves creamed corn the family has preserved from the previous summer, know that you are indeed a special guest.

Freezer corn, at least put up in the Hyatt tradition, is a labor-intensive chore that yields one of the best winter treats there is across all food groups.

Many people freeze corn directly on the cob. Others microwave the corn before cutting it off the cob. Some add butter, cream or salt to the corn as it cooks.

In our family, the tradition is to cut the corn off the cob, with the creaminess coming from careful scraping after the top third of the kernel is removed. After the corn is cooked and quick-cooled, it can be frozen and kept for a year or even more — if you can resist cooking it that long.

Last Saturday and Sunday, we put up about 75 dozen ears of corn — that's 900 ears. If you consider that each ear is touched five times during the preservation process, you can get a glimpse of how much work it is to put up freezer corn.

With our method, once the corn is picked (step 1) and shucked (step 2), we run it through de-silking device Rich's uncle devised using a small motor with a baby bottle brush attached. There is hardly any silk left on an ear once it has gone through this process, (step 3).

The next step (4) is the most crucial. If the kernel is cut too deep, there isn't enough liquid to make the corn creamy. We've found that the plastic or wooden corn cutters work better than a knife. Rich is an expert at this. He quickly reaches a rhythm where the tops of the kernels come off and the scrapers behind the blade do the rest.

The last step (step 5) is to cook the corn and then cool it in pans perched in a sink full of ice before it is put into freezer containers. In past years, we have had all four burners on the stove going at once to cook small portions of corn in pans — all which needed to be stirred constantly. I found that up to four cups of corn can be cooked at once the microwave — something that drastically cuts down on the cooking time and labor.

Our friends Charlie and Sharon helped on Saturday, and Shay was able to come home after he finished work Saturday, so we had Sunday help, too.

Besides plenty of good eating in the winter, an advantage of putting up corn is the opportunity it affords to have uninterrupted time for conversation. These days, how often are you speaking with someone when their phone beeps and the conversation you were having is put on hold, either briefly or for longer.

That doesn't happen on corn day. Nobody would even think of trying to text while doing corn, and all involved are essentially trapped until the work is done. Through the years, I've learned a lot of family history, plenty of good stories and have even extracted details I might have never known while bonding over corn chores.

If you have tips to expedite the freezer corn process or would like to share your memories of corn day, send me an email at news@themountaineer.com.

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