Abenaki Corn

At the farm we have trialled dry field corn over the past two years. This is corn that is grown like sweet corn but then is left to dry in the field normally for a couple of frosts before it is picked, however in our area with the typically very wet falls I prefer to pick just before the wet season starts. Last year we grew Nothstine Dent corn from Johnny's Selected Seeds, it was not high yielding with single stalk 7' high plants. A late summer last year ensured that the corn dried well on the plants and no further drying was necessary. We shucked and shelled the corn by hand and stored it in half gallon jars in the pantry. Shelling by hand is quite laborious and hard on the hands too. To grind the corn I first tried our Juniper Family Grain mill. We mostly use this mill for rolling oats but it also has a grain attachment that we use for grinding wheat berries. I found that the grain mill attachment clogged frequently so I turned to the coffee grinder which worked really well for a short while but then the hard kernels started destroying the plastic cover. A coffer grinder with a metal lid probably would have worked well. But back to the grain mill, this time I used to two passes, a coarse grind to crack the corn and a second pass with the mill set to a fine grind (this tip is actually in the instructions as I found out afterwards). Dent corn is a cross between flint corn and flour corn with a signature 'dent' in the top of the kernel. Nothstine Dent makes great yellow cornmeal, we used it in pancakes using a recipe that I found online that called for 1/2 wheat flour and 1/2 corn meal. Grinding the cornmeal fresh for each batch of pancakes filled the house with a delightful smell and the pancakes were really good too. I tried the cornmeal in corn bread too using Carol Deppe's method, however the intense flavor of the cornmeal was a bit overpowering and the bread didn't hold together too well. This year we tried Abenaki flint corn from Adapative Seeds. The growing conditions were less than optimal as we had a wet May and then a very wet end of August and beginning of September. October was drier than normal though. Fortunately the corn still dried fairly well in the field with a couple of weeks in the greenhouse to finish it off. This year we also purchased a new manual corn sheller, a heavy cast iron knockoff of an ages old design. It works really well, the kids loved trying it out! I built a box to mount the sheller on and to contain the kernels (some of which still flew out of the top). For this year's pancakes we have been using all corn flour, no wheat. The pancakes have been outrageously good. The Abenaki variety is multicolored with a mix of red, orange and yellow kernels, we have found that the red kernels have the most flavor while the yellow kernels are the most sweet and creamy. Interestingly the Abenaki corn doesn't have the intense aroma of the Nothstine Dent corn. We've also tried the Abenaki corn in corn bread which was really good too, but our families favorite has been the pancakes (they are also quicker to prepare). I have also tried substituting 1/4 Abenaki corn flour for wheat in traditional bread recipes. This loaf reminded us of a traditional stone burr bread. Here is the pancake recipe. 3 cups of Abenaki flint corn flour. 1/2 teaspoon salt 2 tablespoons baking powder 4 tablespoons sugar Mix dry ingredients together in a bowl. 2 large eggs 2 1/4 cups whole milk Mix eggs and milk in a separate bowl. Pour into the dry ingredients, stirring gently. Start pre-heating a cast iron skillet with a little butter on medium heat. Melt 4 tablespoons butter in a separate pan. Stir melted butter into batter. Drop 1/4 cup batter per pancake. Cook until golden brown both sides.