Thursday, September 25, 2008

Parched corn and corn nuts

When this country was still young, parched corn was used as a staple trail food by natives and settlers alike. It is said that one can live for months, if necessary, on a diet of parched corn and water.
Nowadays, a similar food called "corn nuts" is a popular snack food. The two are not the same, but they're close.
The best part is that both can be cheaply made from feed corn purchased at an animal feed store. Flour corn is generally recommended, but I have used the feed corn, and it works fine. It comes in a 50 lb bag, so if you don't have livestock that eat it you should either plan on using a lot of it, or pack most of it in 5 gallon pails with nitrogen or co2. If you have a grain mill, you can make fresh cornmeal from this corn as well. I have done this, using my Corona mill.

Parched corn can be made by simply stirring a handful of this corn in a hot, ungreased cast iron skillet until the kernels "puff up" (but don't pop) and turn golden brown. Add salt if you like, and perhaps even some ground cayenne chile; and enjoy; or store in a plastic bag and stash it in your pack for use on the trail. Parched corn can be added to soups and stews too, to augment whatever wild foods you are able to forage.

Corn nuts are a little different, and more involved. To make them you soak the corn in water, one part corn/two parts water, overnight in the fridge. Then deep fry a little at a time in oil or shortening heated just short of smoking; add salt, cayenne and/or whatever your heart desires, and enjoy!


Phil said...

They must have had some pretty good chompers back then, I can't eat 'em even though I loved 'em.
I shattered a molar trying to crunch down on one of the little lovelies a few years back. Part of getting old I guess.

Tracy said...

Ouch! Yeah, it's probably better to soak them first, from a dental standpoint. I've read that a big part of the short life expectancy in traditional native American culture was a result of teeth wearing out, and the resultant health problems.