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Friday, July 25, 2014
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Published: Wednesday, 8/19/2009

Sweet times: Corn is ready to be picked

I don t know about you, but sweet corn season is my second favorite time of the summer, taking a back seat only to strawberry season in June. Ohio State University says sweet corn starts to ripen by July 1 and, depending on the variety, will keep coming until frost.

We are in the middle of the peak season, which runs from July 20 until Sept. 15. And that is extra good luck for my family. Our good friend and Palmyra, Mich., recreational farmer, Mike Betz, has been busy. He was busy planting rows of peaches-and-cream sweet corn a few months ago, but now he s busy with his day job.

Because his wife and kids were on vacation, he put out the call to a few of his closest friends and relatives to pick corn from his garden because it is ripening fast.

Yep, lucky me. I gathered up the family and some bushel baskets and we filled them with corn. We had a family party to husk the mound of ears and I got my mom to come over and help me prepare it for the freezer.

Before you go pulling every ear off the stalk, be sure it is ready. Nothing is worse than plucking a fine ear of corn before its time. OSU says you should look for the dark-green husk, plump kernels all the way to the top, and pollinating hair that is just starting to turn brown at the ends.

You will extend your fresh sweet corn season if you stagger planting. Waiting a couple weeks between plantings will keep fresh corn emerging into October. Once it is picked, you can shuck it right away for dinner. If you buy it in bulk, you will have to keep it for later. It can be stored in a cool dry place if you leave it in the husk for about a week. Shucked and on the cob, you will need to store it in a plastic bag in a refrigerator; it will last a couple of weeks.

If you want to keep it any longer than that, you will have to freeze it or can it.

According to Barbara A. Brahm, extension educator in family and consumer sciences at Ohio State University, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recom mend that adults need 2 to 2 cups of a variety of vegetables daily. Corn is a good choice to help meet this nutritional requirement. She says one cooked ear contains 85 calories; 1 cup of canned sweet corn provides 170 calories.

If you have a mound of corn, this is what you can expect to end up with, according to OSU: One bushel of unhusked fresh corn will give you about nine quarts of corn.

Ms. Brahm says you should start your storage process by cleaning every surface in your kitchen and all the utensils you will be using. Be careful using soap, detergent, or bleach because they could be absorbed by the vegetable.

If you are freezing the corn and cutting it off the cob, blanch the corn by bringing water to a boil, then add the corn. After three minutes in boiling water, it is ready to cut. Use a sharp knife to clean it off the cob and scoop it into bags. Three to four cups is an average serving for a family of five. My cousin, Becky Meledy, says she blanched her corn, then slathered it with a butter garlic mixture, and wrapped it in foil. The cobs were loaded directly in her freezer waiting for her next barbecue.

Looks as if I had some good luck with summer vacations and sweet corn. Now, I just might have to babysit my dad s tomatoes while he heads up north. Darn!

Contact Kelly Heidbreder at: kheidbreder@theblade.com



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