While I wish we were growing all our own produce, we're just not there yet. But that doesn't mean we can't put up produce to preserve for months down the road. When we find a good deal, we buy in bulk.
Earlier this summer, we found corn on sale for eight ears for $1, and we knew it was time to strike. We bought two cases – 96 ears. Our usual practice was to shuck the corn, blanch it, cut it off the cob, put it in freezer bags, vacuum seal it and store it in the freezer.
This year, for the first time ever, we decided to can it. Being a low-acid food, you need to use a pressure canner to can corn. We have a great pressure canner. Brand new in fact. We've used the pot as an extra water bath canner before, but we hadn't pressure canned anything. I have to admit, it's a little intimidating. But I'm still here to tell you about it! HA!
The shucking and cutting off the cob all took place outside under a canopy. Ripe sweet corn has a lot of juice and sugar. For us, it is SO much easier to hose down the folding tables outside than to have to wipe every single sticky surface of your kitchen.
Back inside, we added some water and brought it to a boil for 5 minutes in batches – about 16 cups of corn in each pot (we had two pots going on the stove). Then we "hot packed" it (as opposed to raw pack) in pint jars and topped it with boiling water. And into the pressure canner it went.
We use a camp stove outside for all our canning. We have found that it comes to a boil much faster than on the stove inside. And it also doesn't heat up the kitchen by working outside. The only drawback was sitting outside (and it was HOT) to babysit the canner.
With the first batch, it took quite a bit of adjusting to get the heat just right. You want the pressure weight to bobble one to four times a minute, but not constantly or else you'll lose too much water inside the canner. That's the one drawback to the camp stove – the dial for the burner is just not that precise. But eventually we got it settled with just the right amount of heat. Corn takes a while – 55 minutes. We did two batches in the canner and ended up with 27 pints of corn. Rather than go another round in the canner, I put the last 24 pints in freezer bags.
Now that we've successfully pressure canned something, we look forward to using it much more in the future.
We always have such a sense of accomplishment when we put up food. Especially canning them, since once they are done, no energy is required to store them – a distinct advantage over frozen foods. Now if we were going to put up enough cans of corn so that we never had to buy any for a year, we would need a lot more than this! But it's a great reminder of our ancestors who only ate what they raised and put up foods all spring and summer long to get them through the winter. We have tremendous respect for them and their way of life!
Until next time, worms rock, bees rule and chickens are my Zen.