Anybody grind their own cornmeal?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by r.h. in okla., Feb 11, 2004.

  1. I've been thinking about getting me a little grain grinder of some sort and try my luck at making my own cornmeal. Just wondering if it would taste better. That might be determined by what kind of corn you grind I suppose. Field corn or hickory? Or both? Maybe grow and grind some hominy corn if I can figure out how it was momma use to dehull that stuff and cook it on the wood stove. On those cold winter days she would cook a big pot of hominy grits all day on the hot stove and that would be our supper. But she use to buy hers already fixed. All she had to do is cook it. I don't think I have seen it in the grocers in the last 20 years or so. I see the little boxes of instant grits or the little packages of grits that come in 1 pound clear plastic sacks. But this stuff that mom would get was coarse ground and came in a burlap like sack in 5 or 10 pound quantity. Anybody still see this stuff anywhere?
     
  2. HermitJohn

    HermitJohn Well-Known Member

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    Depends on what qualities you want. I think homeground has more taste. Remember stuff you buy in store is degerminated for long shelf life. Like white flour compared to whole wheat. Whole wheat flour has lot more taste and nutrition.

    Popcorn makes pretty good cornmeal. Old fashion open pollinated Indian corn makes good cornmeal also. Both these are flint type corn. The field corn is dent. For some reason, it seems to have a bit of an off taste although I've ground it and made polenta. Dont know if all dent corn tastes like this or just modern hybrids. Not horribly bad but an aquired taste. Oh, if you let sweet corn go to hard seed stage, it makes interesting sweetish tasting corn meal.

    I've never done it, but believe they use lye to make hominy. Traditionally people even made their own lye from wood ashes.

     

  3. heelpin

    heelpin Well-Known Member

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    The fresh ground meal is definitely better tasting, I like mine coarse and with the bran. If you buy a grinder its best to get a good one to start with because the mickey mouse stuff will not hold up to grind corn. I have a very old varity of white soft corn that I grow just for meal.
     
  4. My daughter and I read one of the Little House books...an early chapter book called "Laura's Ma" over Christmas break and I think it described Ma soaking and scrubbing? the corn to remove the hulls, changing the water etc. Not sure if I can find the book, but I'll look around.
     
  5. diane

    diane Well-Known Member

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    We think fresh ground is way better. The best is from dried sweet corn, IMO. A "little" grinder is rather difficult to grind decent corn meal though. We have a Country Living mill that we have electrified and I really do love it. As I got older the grinding was just way to hard on my shoulders.
     
  6. A.T. Hagan

    A.T. Hagan Guest

    I mill my own corn - all yellow dent. We use a Grainmaster Whispermill so it's a fairly fine textured meal.

    As far as I'm concerned the flavor of home ground corn cannot be beat. Store bought cornmeal has been degerminated and dehulled unless it was stone ground or something. Home ground corn meal will have both the hull and germ so it acts just slightly different than store bought meal. When making corn bread you may want to not put all of the liquid in right away until you can see the consistency of the batter.

    Dry field corn - generally a dent type - is what is used to make corn meal and hominy though there are some who'll mill dry sweet corn for meal. Popcorn works well for meal as well.

    I'm curious about your question "Field corn or hickory?" Do you mean Hickory King corn? That's a dent type field corn, but it does have a long history of being preferred for making hominy since the hulls slip more easily than with other varieties. I'll be growing some for the first time this year. It makes good meal too.

    The old fashioned "cook twenty minutes or longer" style of grits is seldom found any more. Once in a great while I'll come across a bag of Aunt Jemima Old Fashioned. Sometimes when I go to historical recreations or such there'll be someone there who is grinding meal and grits. This type won't be hulled corn, but simply corn ground coarsely and takes much longer to cook. The stuff I have in my freezer right now takes maybe forty five minutes or so and really needs to be washed first before cooking.

    .....Alan.
     
  7. sugarspinner

    sugarspinner Well-Known Member

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    Yes, the flavor is much better and you can make it as coarse or fine as you want. We always think Flint or dent-type corn is best; Reed's Yellow Dent, Hickory King (sometimes called Hickory Cane) or some such. As an experiment, grinding hard sweet corn is interesting, also, and the colored corns make interesting cornbread.

    If you live in Southern Indiana, pm me and I can tell you where to get bulk grits; either yellow or white. They're not perfect but the best I've found without doing the whole hominy thing myself. Also, Carla Emery's book tells how to do hominy, I think. At least I think that's what I used when I made it.
     
  8. Thumper/inOkla.

    Thumper/inOkla. Well-Known Member

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    To make hominy the hulls are soaked off with warm lye water just strong enough to make your hand sting. But now a days we have rubber gloves. The kernals are soaked in the hot liquid until the hulls rub off easy, then rinsed and washed until the water is clear and no odor or taste of lye, this is checked by touching your wet hand to the tip of your tongue and rubbing the tip of your tonuge [just below the tase buds] aganist the upper inside of your lower lip, when there is no tingle and it taste good the kernals are rinsed enough, my grandmother would chew one kernal to be extra sure.

    I much prefer fresh ground corn meal, it smells like summer, earthy rich, corn field on a summer night....

    Store bought smells something like a dusty old hay barn.
    I use a vita mix for coarse grind and a wisper mill for flour.

    A tip for those that have not used fresh ground corn, when making your baked goods mix the the coarse meal with the liquid and let it set 10 or 15 minutes to soak up the moisture or the finished product may be too grainy, because the smaller particals will set up and be cooked with out binding to the larger bits because they are too dry. And some times the recipe will need a little more liquid than with fine meal.
     
  9. All country

    All country Well-Known Member

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    I've got a Golden Grain Grinder. It uses grinding stones and can be worked by hand or electric. I ordered it from Walton Feed out of Idaho. It's a bit pricey, but been worth every penny. I use it almost daily. I don't think a cheaper model could handle the work load. I can grind any where from cracked grains to cake flour consistancy. I like grinding a mix of popcorn, dried sweet corn, and dent corn for cornbread.
    I've never made hominy, but my Mom is trying to get me to. She hasn't had good hominy since Grandma made it when she was a kid. Guess I'll give in and give it a try. She's started the guilt trip thing....sad eyes and "ya know I haven't had any good hominy in nearly 60 years". She's getting mighty good at guilt trips.
    Directions are in Carla Emery's book. Also found some in one of the "Foxfire" books. Sounds easy enough to make.
     
  10. Fla Gal

    Fla Gal Bunny Poo Monger Supporter

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  11. waltseed

    waltseed Member

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    Fresh ground cornmeal is usually better than store-bought.
    The variety makes a big difference though.
    My favorite is Cherokee Blue and White Dent. Seneca Bear Dance is a very close second.
    Pride of Saline is bland. Texas Shoepeg is bland. I forget which others I have eaten.
    A given Variety's flavor may depend on where it was grown. My experience is with corn grown in central Kansas.
    And of couse there are many more corn varieties that I haven't tried, so my favorites might be added to.
    Hopi Blue is suposed to be really special, but here it mostly went to smut. It is addapted to desert and in my semi-arid area, the fungus got most of it.
    Commercial hybrid corn in not much better fresh ground than store-bought, I think.
    Walter
     
  12. Ken Scharabok

    Ken Scharabok In Remembrance

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    Old thread but:

    At Wal-Mart supermarkets or Sam's Club you can likely find Great Value brand Enriched Quick Grits. One size is 24 ounces. Comes in a cardboard can with plastic lid. However, ingredients include: White hominy grits, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin and folic acid. With home ground you don't get the additives.

    Hickory Cane and Hickory King ARE NOT the same corn. Hickory Cane is an old timer which was preferred for fresh, creamed and canned corn, honiny and white corn meal (and for shine due to the higher sugan content than standard field corn) in much of the Upper South. It is also called Eight-row Corn (as it has eight rows of very large kernels on the cob), Horse Corn (as the stalks were cut, dried and used as horse and mule fodder during winter) or White Dent (as in MO White Dent). Hickory King is more of a very large white sweet corn. It has more than eight rows of kernels and I have been told doesn't make very good hominy or white corn meal. Hickory King is readily available as a commerical seed.

    Hickory Cane is an open pollinated variety. I believe, but am not sure, Hickory King is a hybrid.

    Do a search on Hickory Cane for my effort to basically reintroduce Hickory Cane corn. From what was available this year I sent out about 100 packets and have about 125 unfilled requests on hand for additional seed as it becomes available.

    Among the requests I received a newspaper article where the writer said they would have gone awfully hungry during some winters as about all they had to eat was Hickory Cane corn meal bread and milk.
     
  13. A.T. Hagan

    A.T. Hagan Guest

    I've been working on my corn project for several years now, Hickory King being one of them. Because of the similarity of names Hickory KING and Hickory CANE come up pretty regular.

    Are they the same thing? Not now it seems like. May have been the same thing way back when but not now.

    My Hickory King is all eight row though some you can find is ten, even twelve.

    That's the problem with these old time open pollinated varieties, they depend solely on how careful the person doing the conservation is with letting them cross with other corns. In the 2005 SSE Yearbook there's white, yellow, and multi-colored Hickory King. The white's the oldest, the yellow came next many years ago though I've never been able to find out just when, and this more recent multi-colored Hickory King plainly speaks of having been crossed with something.

    When it comes to these old time open pollinated corns there just isn't a lot of good exact physical descriptions for any but the most popular varieties. Without a clear description of what that particular variety is supposed to look like and someone willing to carefully select to maintain that description there will naturally be some drift. That may be the case of the Hickory KING and Hickory CANE varieties. Or maybe they've always been separate varieties. There just doesn't seem to be any reliable records to say.

    Hickory King, btw, makes excellent meal. Haven't tried it yet for hominy though there's plenty of info out there that says it works well for it. Found some info that says it made good 'shine too, but I wouldn't know that from personal experience.

    What's really important is does a given variety of corn work well for you where you're at in your particular circumstances and do you like the way it tastes?

    .....Alan.
     
  14. Ken Scharabok

    Ken Scharabok In Remembrance

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    The old timer I got the Hickory Cane from said it is his understanding Hickory King was initially based on Hickory Cane, but was crossed, modifed or altered to make it sweeter since it was desired as predominately a large white sweet corn. True Hickory Cane will only have eight rows of kernels.

    But then it might have been the moonshiners who did the altering and a sweeter corn for eating just developed as the result.

    Several of the people who requested seed said they had grown Hickory Cane in the past but had lost the seed for one reason or another. When Hickory King became widely available they tried it, but were disappointed in it for hominy or white corn meal. Perhaps it might be a memory problem more than taste.

    Is Hickory King open pollinated?

    As noted, if Hickory King works for you, then use it.

    Ken Scharabok
     
  15. A.T. Hagan

    A.T. Hagan Guest

    Yes, Hickory King is an OP corn. That's why I'm growing it. Supposed to have the largest kernel size of any OP corn historically grown in the U.S., at least so the legend goes, which is why it was so popular for lye peeled hominy.

    It and Truckers Favorite are what I'm working with right now.

    .....Alan.
     
  16. vegascowgirl

    vegascowgirl Try Me

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    Depending on how much you want to process at one time, you may not need a grain grinder. I actually use my coffee grinder and it works great. I only grind enough for what I need at the time, and store the corn, etc. in airtight containers. I'm a firm believer in using utensils for more than their original purpous...and the Coffe grinder is fantastic for grinding grain, spices, sugar, and herbs. Sure you can only do small amounts at a time, but I think the taste is better if something is ground right befor it is used in a recipe (that might just be in my mind however). :)
     
  17. Wow! you people have me all excited again. I haven't yet planted my Hickory Cane that Ken sent me as I am going to bust up new ground to plant it. I have my regular sweet corn planted but I want to plant my Hickory cane well away from it so as to be sure they don't cross. I may not eat any of the hickory cane this year as I might want to save all the corn for next years seed and have a really big patch.
     
  18. Freeholder

    Freeholder Well-Known Member

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    I'm going to try Painted Mountain, a flour corn bred in the higher elevations of Montana from old Mandan varieties, this year. It sounds ideal for our climate, and is supposed to be around 13% protein, as opposed to usual 8% for most similar varieties.

    Kathleen
     
  19. Jenn

    Jenn Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I have a retsel with stone and steel mill 'stones'. Grinding corn with the stone led to the corn greasily filling in the grinding texture of the stone and me having to bake the stone and chip away the corn with a nut pick- v ery slow process and the stone no longer grinds when it is absolutely flat so has to be done.

    Store corn meal tastes so chemical to me. I have the mill for flour; I special ordered corn from the US (couldn't find any corn on England- only grown as sweet corn or silaged for animals before ripe) to have a bit of decent corn meal on hand. Also ground corn meal is terribly sweet what ever varieties (can't recall) I've been using. My dogs used to lick up all the spills for me- guess it's a major dog biscuit ingredient?