One of the memories which is firmly entrenched in my brain is planting corn on my grandparent’s farm. When I was little I would plant along side my grandfather and the whole thing was almost a rhythmic dance. Grandpa would lift a shovel of dirt. I’d toss a few of the dehydrated pink seeds into the hole. He’d drop the dirt right back on top of it and then step forward, sealing the seeds in their underground home. Within a few day corn sprouts would breech the surface of the earth and very quickly shoot up to be as tall as the dog, and then as tall as me and then taller than Grandpa.
Starting in the middle of the summer we’d harvest ear upon ear of tender corn, eating it for what seemed every meal for weeks. Then when the bounty was plentiful there would be canning days when the corn was going to be ‘put up’. It always seemed an odd term to me because we were going to freeze the corn, which meant into the bottom of the big chest freezer. The bottom of a freezer is not ‘up’, but there are certain family terms that you just don’t argue.
Freezing day started with Grandma heating a huge canner pot full of salted water on her gas stove and filling it with as many ears of corn as it would take. Grandpa would set up with a big dripper pan for the ears to be set into, a wooden cutting board, a very very sharp 12-14 inch knife and a garbage bin for the cobs so they could be tossed out into the compost heap. As soon as the corn was cooked it went into the dripper pan. Grandpa would pull out a cob and with four to five neat sweeps remove the kernels, then he’d run the blade down the cob and pull out any extra juices or starches before tossing the cob and reaching for the next. Little golden piles of kernels were then scooped up with a plastic spatula by the nearest enterprising grandchild and put into freezer ziploc bags. There was nothing like the taste of that corn, and by end of day everyone would be full of corn and more than a little sticky from all the starch on equipment, fingers and faces.
This weekend I had about a dozen extra ears of corn and I settled into the familiar pattern. I only got two good bags of corn, but just like my grandparents I put it up and when the winter sets in I have a little bit of spring in a ziploc bag.