It’s a dreary day here in southeastern Massachusetts, rainy and cool, and though we are in dire need of the rain, rain always slows my roll, makes me feel sluggish and sleepy. I know I’m not alone.
This morning, after picking up the otherwise destined-for-compost vegetable and fruit waste that our local Whole Foods donates to us to help feed our pigs, JR and I took a quick detour to our favorite farm stand, Four Town Farm. How better to brighten the day than with the promise of dinnertime corn on the cob? And Four Town is known for having the best corn in our area, always a special treat – even if that special treat happens nearly every night from mid-July until the end of corn season. We still think it’s special.
For the last few weeks, on each of our visits to Four Town, we have left with 18 or 24 ears of corn, 3 to be eaten that night, 3 to be eaten the next night, and the rest to be put up for winter use. For years, I had done the old blanch-before-freezing method: shave the ears of corn, blanch for 1 to 2 minutes, drain, then dry, then bag and freeze.
Once winter hit, I was thrilled to have corn in the freezer, but during the preserving process, I was a little less than stoked. It’s not hard, but it is a bit tedious.
When you visit the same farm stand again and again and again and again, year after year after year after year, you not only get great produce (well, you better, if not, you should find a farm stand where the produce warrants your repetitive patronage), you also get some insider information. For instance, today’s intel: Four Town tastes their corn every morning when they harvest, and as soon as it doesn’t taste good, they plow their fields under. I like that insurance that our corn is always going to be as great as we expect from them. And I like that they expect to still have corn through the end of October. Fabulous.
A couple of years ago, I got a hot tip at Four Town: You don’t have to blanch corn before freezing it.
Say whaaaaaat? I mean, everything I’d ever read about freezing corn said to blanch before freezing to preserve flavor and texture (by inactivating enzymes that promote the aging of the kernels) and to clean the corn of dirt and organisms, but here was someone who works at the very farm where the best corn in the area is grown saying heck no! You don’t need to blanch that shiz!
I was in. But I was skeptical.
First things first, I rinse the corn before shaving it off of the cob, and do a visual check for dirt and worms, obviously not for microscopic organisms. We use Four Town Farm corn both cooked and raw all summer long, and I trust them as growers. Corn that isn’t blanched is still safe to eat (the HGTV and Livestrong people are backing my Four Town Farm source up here), though if you feel more comfortable blanching, I’d say stay as you are. However, if you feel confident about your corn source, and you want to save a little time putting corn up for winter, this may be for you.
That year, I froze batches of corn both blanched and not. As always, I dated the freezer bags – slightly nuts, but this is how I do it here – I feel like it clues me in to when the best corn of the year was frozen, like, the August 15th corn from last year was good, but the September 5th corn was really, really good, even though this means nothing year-to-year, as growing conditions change. It’s like a frozen corn diary of the summer past. Did I say “slightly nuts”? Okay, good then.
Not quite as scientifically as, say, America’s Test Kitchen, or even Serious Eats, I compared blanched corn with not-blanched corn over that winter, and you know what? There was not enough difference to warrant blanching. I mean, all of our time is precious. Why spend more preparing corn for spending time in the freezer than is absolutely needed?
This past winter, I didn’t blanch any of the corn I froze, and we had some seriously delicious corn from those quickly and easily put up bags.
So if you’re looking to freeze corn before the season is really, really, really over, maybe try a bag or two of regular old, not-blanched kernels and compare them with your blanched ones. Or don’t bother with the experiment part of the process, and just go ahead and shave those kernels off the cob, freeze ‘em up, and enjoy them while the snow flies this winter.