Tricounty News

Sweet corn is coming

It is sweet corn season in Minnesota – enjoy fresh corn on the cob, a summer tradition! Sweet corn is an excellent vegetable to store frozen. It is easy to freeze and produces a tasty, quality product when properly frozen.

When harvesting, do so early in the morning before the heat of the day. Plan to freeze the corn as soon as possible after harvest. Once husked, the ears are blanched in boiling water for four minutes followed by a complete cooling in ice water for about eight minutes. Drain and cut the kernels from the cob.

An electric knife is a handy tool for cutting off the kernels. Package the corn in freezer containers, leaving one-half inch headspace. Seal and freeze at 0°F or below to maintain quality frozen corn for up to one year.

Blanching, followed by chilling in ice water, are critical processes for producing quality frozen corn. The enzymes in corn need to be inactivated by blanching in boiling water for the recommended time prior to freezing to prevent loss of color, nutrients, flavor, and texture. The ice cold chilling process prevents the corn from becoming mushy because of overcooking the starch.

You can enjoy the great taste of summertime sweet corn all year long by following these simple, basic procedures for freezing vegetables.

Get reliable answers to food preservation questions

Strawberries are being picked. Vegetables are ripening. The Minnesota food preservation season is starting. Canning, freezing, drying or pickling fruits and vegetables allows us to enjoy the bounty of summer for months to come. Whether you’re making your first batch of salsa or you’ve been pressure canning green beans for years, you may have questions.

Where to go for answers? Call AnswerLine to ask a household expert questions about: Safely canning and freezing foods; cleaning stains and mildew from homes and clothes; and other household issues. AnswerLine is toll-free at (800) 854-1678 Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., and 1 to 4 p.m.

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Making jams and jellies

Carrot cake jam, champagne blush jelly, fresh herb jelly, mom’s apple pie in a jar – these are some of the many exciting new varieties of jams and jellies that home food preservers are “putting up.”

Quality fruit produces quality jam or jelly. Begin with fruit at its peak of ripeness. This is not the place to “use up” overripe or decayed fruit.  Making jam or jelly is a balance of fruit with the addition of pectin, along with sugar and acid, usually lemon juice. Blackberries, crabapples, or concord grapes are examples of fruits naturally containing pectin and acid, and can be cooked into jam without additional ingredients.

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Graduation party food safety

We are entering the season of graduation parties, family reunions, and community gatherings. These events include good people, good times, and good food!

If you are hosting or helping with a large quantity food event, be sure to keep food safety in mind. The combination of larger quantities of food, more helpers in the kitchen, and summer temperatures could result in unwanted foodborne illness for your guests. Infants and young children, older adults and those with weakened immune systems attending your gathering are at higher risk. Foodborne illness often presents itself with symptoms of nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or fever.

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Pickled asparagus

Pickling is not just for cucumbers anymore! One of the first crops of the season is asparagus and it is a good candidate for pickling. Use the freshest asparagus for best color. Choose spears with straight, green (possibly tinged with purple) and tightly closed tips. Thinner spears are preferred for pickling. The quality deteriorates very rapidly after it has been harvested, so keep it cool.

Pickled Asparagus Recipe

For six wide-mouth pint jars:

10 pounds asparagus

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