A Year of Corn

Last year, we had very little corn. Between the squirrels and a generalized failure to pollinate thanks to a failed succession-planting scheme, we pretty much got just a couple handfuls of kernels to throw in some salsa.

This year, we have some corn:

The ears are small, and it's just not as much as you'd hope for from 132 square feet of planting area. Each stalk only produced a single ear at the most, and many not even that. I realize that planting corn in a garden is difficult because you really need a big block of it to ensure pollination, but in the Red House we planted just six stalks one year, and got two or three big, fat ears on each one. So it's not impossible.

Next year we'll try a different variety for what could be a last effort at sweet corn.

Yesterday I brought in all the corn that looked even close to ready, since I could see it was starting to be picked at (I presume by squirrels, but it could be birds). Sometimes our defense against critters is lazy, but we have way more corn and orchard fruit than last year, thanks to this guy:

Anyway, item numbers 12-14 on yesterday's to-do list all involved dealing with the corn. Kirk and I shucked it outside, separating the good ears from the ones not worth dealing with: 

The small pile at the top went directly to our incredibly grateful chickens:

I haven't seen them this excited about anything since cherry tomatoes. That's Dolley above, who pecked her way through that ear (one kernel at a time!) in about 30 seconds.

For human consumption, we decided to freeze the corn (after having an ear apiece on the cob with dinner). To do this, you blanch it in boiling water for five minutes:

Then you shock drop the hot ears in a big pot of ice water to stop the cooking (use tongs). 

When the ears are cool enough to hold, cut off the "handle" part of the cob so you have a flat end to balance the ear on when you stand it upright on a cutting board. Use a sharp knife to slice the corn off the cob, starting from the tip and pressing down to the board. Repeat.

Our ears were small, so I could do a whole cob in four slices, making me wish that Monsanto would just engineer a square ear of corn already (KIDDING). This is another one of those mild pain-in-the-ass repetitive tasks, but there you go.

When I was done, I had this serving bowl full of corn:

It ended up being five cups, which isn't all that much (again 132 square feet of planting area was devoted to corn), but it is better than no corn at all. I dumped it into a freezer bag, and now it's frozen for the winter:

I have to admit, I think I picked these a week late. The corn that I ate for dinner had gone a little starchy on the cob. So it's for the best that the rest is ready for recipes instead of fresh eating — I'm definitely thinking corn chowder is in our future.


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