Thursday, May 5, 2011


Two years ago, while looking for extra grain to feed our chickens, we found an 80 year old farmer nearby that was growing about an acre of 'hickory king' white field corn. Even though he was growing this very special heirloom without any herbicides or other pesticides, he was selling it to the local feed mill for commodity prices. We arranged to buy his whole crop and paid him double what he asked for it, knowing how much it was worth since we were growing a half acre of a very similar heirloom ourselves (the only difference being we avoid the use of conventional fertilizer.) This past year we grew a much smaller section of field corn since we were expecting a baby right about the time we'd need to be hoeing the corn, so we were very pleased to again be able to buy this 'hickory king' corn from our neighbor. We stored the corn in our little corn crib (pictured here) until about January when it was thoroughly dry and then began the process of sorting and shelling. We used a hand sheller to remove the less perfect kernels from the end of each ear, setting aside that corn for chicken feed along with the whole cobs that weren't as nice, inspecting each cob underneath to make sure it was free of any mold before shelling the remaining corn for grinding. We winnowed the corn in front of a fan and froze it one bucket at a time to eliminate any insect pests. Now we're grinding it fresh as needed with the small granite grist mill (made in Wilkes County) that we bought when we first started growing corn. Unlike almost all the other field corn grown in our area (and nationwide), heirloom corn varieties are not genetically modified with non-corn genes. We believe it's important to preserve these heirlooms not just to maintain non-genetically modified options, but also because these varieties weren't bred to depend on high rates of conventional fertilizer, on chemical control of weeds, diseases, and insects, and on combine harvesting. That means they're all around suitable to local use on small farms and to communities deciding how to grow their own food. We normally grind our cornmeal coarser than what you'd find in supermarkets. It's the texture we mostly prefer for our favorites: corn muffins, corn mush, hush puppies, hoe cakes... If you prefer a different grind, we're happy to grind to custom requests. We also grind and sift grits. Our grits still contain some of the hulls of the corn kernel. These will float to the surface when you add the water to your grits. Skim these off. Once ground, cornmeal or grits like we're offering are best used promptly or stored in the freezer. Enjoy!

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