Summer in the freezer

February 23, 2015

Lots o' corn.

Lots o’ corn.

Lots o' peas. Purple fingers.

Lots o’ peas. Purple fingers.

NOTE: I just discovered this post in my “drafts” folder; not sure why it never got posted, but here ’tis. And yes, I am still very much enjoying the peas and corn, particularly during this miserable cold, icy weather we’re presently having.

Part of the “puttin’ up” adventure of the summer just past involved putting significant quantities of corn and peas in the freezer, along with a copious amount of tomatoes in jars. We’ll address tomatoes later; for now, let me focus on corn and peas.

I love a purple hulled pea. Purely love it. I enjoy the quiet, peaceful rhythm of shelling them, particularly if everything is arranged in and near your lap while you’re watching baseball on TV. I love the earthy, nutty taste, tinged with a bit of salt and a bit of fat, when they’re cooked with a scrap piece of ham, or, in a pinch, with a couple of slices of bacon. I love, particularly, to pair that taste with the bright zing of tomato relish, and the buttery richness of a slab of cornbread.

That constituted my dinner more than a few times this summer. Well, with a sliced tomato.

The beauty of putting up purple hulled peas is that it’s about the simplest procedure you can imagine. Shell the peas. Put them in whatever sized bag you wish. Put them in the freezer.

Can ya handle that? It doesn’t get much simpler than that. I would highly recommend getting bags that are specifically labeled freezer bags. They’re a bit heavier. Other bags may split if you drop them or if they fall out of your overstuffed freezer, not that I know about that from experience or anything….

Don’t wash the peas. You want them dry. When you take them out, dump them in a colander and run water over them to wash whatever detritus is there, away.  Dump ’em in a saucepan, add some water, some seasoned salt, and some salt cured pork of some description, bring ’em to a boil, turn the heat down to a simmer, let ’em simmer for about 40 minutes. Hard to beat.

I put mine up in bags of about two cups each, and squeeze most of the air out before I seal them.

Don’t put up more than you’ll eat this winter. They hold well enough for 6-9 months, but anything over a year and you start losing flavor quality.

Corn, now….corn is something else again. There are a number of ways to put up corn that are easier than what I do, including cutting the ends off the cobs, leaving them in the shucks, wrapping them in plastic and then bagging them  in the quantity you need. I’ve done that, and it’s good; you take it out and nuke it, still in its plastic wrap, for two or three minutes, and husks, silks and all slip right off. It’s excellent; it’s also space-intensive in your freezer, and I prefer my corn cut off the cob.

So here’s what I do: I cut all the corn off the cobs, and cook it just with enough water to keep it from sticking to the bottom of the pot, for about 20 minutes. No seasoning, no nothing. (Corn doesn’t want much seasoning, anyway.) When it’s fully cooked, let it cool completely and then put it in pint-sized plastic tubs, pop the tops on, and stack them in the freezer. You can put several dozen ears of corn in a relatively tight space, especially if you use square containers.

When you’re ready to cook, let it thaw, then heat it up with some butter and cream, and a bare sprinkle of salt. It’s very nearly as good as fresh.

Fast-forward a few months — as noted, I am just now discovering this mostly-finished post. Me and Harper Lee; we forget where we put stuff.

As an update to the freezer situation, I am happy to report that the peas and the corn are still holding out; not for a whole lot longer, not until I can replace them with fresh, but still, they’ve been a fine thing to have this winter.  I probably still have a half a dozen bags of peas, and maybe that many pints of corn, although I’ve hit the corn a bit harder, so I may not have that much left.

The major tragedy, though, is that I am about to run out of canned tomatoes. I have four or five pints of tomato soup, one or two of marinara sauce, one, I think, of chili base, and a lonely quart of plain canned tomatoes left. I do, at least, have plenty of tomato relish.

This just Will Not Do. Obviously the 2 1/2 bushels of tomatoes I canned this summer are not enough. And I’ll likely have enough relish left that I won’t need to can any more of that. But I will hate like all manner of hell to go back to grocery store canned tomatoes for the remainder of the winter.

You ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em pray for an early (and lengthy!) tomato season in 2015.





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