I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. ~ Thoreau

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Blood, Sweat and Pickled Corn

Today was probably not the best choice of days to pickle the corn but I was seriously running up against the deadline of four dozen ear of ruined corn. They had been sitting in my refrigerator for several days taking up most of the available space and generally looking a little sadder every day. I had several billion things to do this morning including catch the bus to town so the ideal cool temperatures of the before dawn hours passed me by and I was stuck firing up the stove in the early afternoon as temperatures outside crept above one hundred and temperatures inside were not much better.

I finished cleaning out the crock and set the water on the stove to boil to cook the ears. Sunday my friend’s mom informed me that the ears were pickled whole and the kernels not cut from the cob until the pickling process was complete. I put Sarah on salt dissolving duty and I manned the boiling water. I can tell you that if pickling and canning are going to become part of our rituals then we are going to have to invest in some larger pots and measuring devices.

The ratio of salt to water is one gallon of water per one cup of salt. The largest measuring bowl I had held two quarts (there are four quarts in a gallon if I am not mistaken) so Sarah dissolved a cup of salt in to two quarts of water poured that into the crock as I placed the corn in the crock. For every bowl of salt water we added one bowl of plain tap. My largest pot would only cook about six ear of corn at a time so it took quite a while to cook all four dozen ear. Needless to say I think Sarah and I are now significantly thinner due to water weight loss. I am pretty sure I sweated off at least ten pounds crouching over the stove and every time I looked at her she had sweat pouring off her face in rivers as she diligently dissolved the pickling salt into the hot tap water.

After we had finally loaded the pillow case in the crock full of corn and the whole project covered in salt water we sealed it off with a plastic bag clip. My friend’s mom said that if you covered the pillow case with another plastic bag full of water before you put the plate on this would create a seal. I had a turkey bag from last thanksgiving so we filled it up with water and tied it off. This created a mess instead of a seal. I guess the crock was too full and it just caused salt water to slosh all over the kitchen floor. So we took the plastic bag off and put the plate directly on the pillow case.

Then came the problem of how to weight it down. I had saved an empty large pickle jar for just that purpose. Eventually we decided to fill it with rocks from the driveway. We filled it up, cranked the lid on tight and sat it on the plate. WAHLA! The plate pressed down on the corn and the water came up around the pickle jar and over the plate about four inches. Now everything I have read and everything people have told me seems to point to needing at least two inches of brine over the corn at any given time so I think four inches is a nice buffer. We put the other pillow case over the whole thing to keep the bugs out.

That leaves us with one last teeny problem…um…five gallon stone crocks filled with corn and brine are not light! I tried to scoot it and sloshed some more salt water on the floor. Since leaving it in the middle of my kitchen floor until January is not really an option I am not entirely sure where I should put it or how to get it there. I have been told two completely polar opposite things about the storage. One person says to leave it in a cool dark place and the other said if it is too cool it will not ferment so warmer is better. Well warm I can do, there are very few cool spots in our house. We do not have a cellar and I don’t want to put anything we are going to eat out in the barn so I am not sure where to put the crock (never mind how to put it somewhere).

I guess that will have to wait until Fred gets home. I know between me and my beloved spaghetti arms there is no moving it from the kitchen without risking a serious mess. Ah, the struggles to get back to basics. I hope by January to have some decent pickled corn to can because if that whole container rots I cannot promise I will not have a full scale melt down. I tell you Sarah and I literally poured our hearts and sweat into this effort and we look forward to eating the rewards.

One last funny little aside: at my daughter’s expense I will point out the mentality of growing up in a totally fast food culture. In all reality even our home cooked meals never take more than a day or two at the most to come together. So as we stood over the crock wiggling the last pillow case down around its edges she said,

“ I’m anxious to try pickled corn.”

Me, “Well you only have to wait till January.”

Sarah, “January?!”

Me, “Yes, it has to ferment.”

Sarah, ”Well can’t we put it in the microwave or something?”

Oh yes folks, I want it and I want it now. Giggles!

Thank you for reading,
Much love,

1 comment:

  1. Grandma always pickled her's in the cellar. I wouldn't have a clue what the temp was in there...40s-50s I'd guess.


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