This week has been an exciting and very busy one. The Bantam Sweet Corn is reaching new heights, towering high above the squash plants underneath them. So it made me start to think, "When do we pick these lovely ears of corn?" and more importantly, "How do we preserve all this corn for use later in the winter?".
After some research I found that you should pick corn when the silk turns dark and starts to shrivel, preferably first thing in the morning. The kernels should be bright, plump, and milky, if they are watery let them be, they're not ready yet! Usually it takes about 20 days for the ear to ripen, from when the silk starts to appear. To harvest, snap off the ears by hand with a quick, firm, downward push; then twist and pull. Corn is at its prime eating quality for only 72 hours before becoming overmature. (Info found on Pick Your Own Veg, http://www.pickyourown.org/pickveg.htm )
When it comes to preserving I found great info on the Gardener's Supply blog, written by the staff-owners of the company, one of which is Kathy LaLiberte. Kathy came to visit us this week, along with Cindy (also from Gardeners Supply) and Kathy's husband Henry. What a fantastic group of people, we had wonderful conversations and got all geeky about all things urban farming. It was great to hear their enthusiasm and ideas for what we could do better for the farm, different applications of some of their products and to hear all about their interesting seeds from their own personal gardens. (For those of you who may not know, our raised beds were built with corner brackets from Gardener's Supply) Back to the question at hand though, you can find some great info about corn preservation, written by Kathy, here http://blog.gardeners.com/2009/08/freezing-sweet-corn.html.
We had the pleasure of having Kathy and Henry return again in the evening on Tuesday to join us for the Slow Food benefit dinner that we held. The dinner went very well, with cocktail hour on the rooftop farm and then a great pork dinner made with Slagel Family Farms pork that our kitchen staff helped slaughter the week before. Overall it was a fantastic garden geek day and a lovely evening full of cucumber agua fresca and super fresh local foods. If you don't know about the Slow Food Organization, please visit the local chapter's website here, http://www.slowfoodchicago.org/.
Happy corn picking!