If you dried your corn while still on the cob then you will need to shell the corn first, of course. You can do this by hand or use a hand crank corn sheller. The hand operated corn shellers do most of the work for you, the cob goes in and the dried kernels are stripped off and the cob is kicked out. Save the dried cobs for fire starting and for those hearty individuals that may need one or two in the outhouse in the early morning hours.
If you had dried the kernels after taking them off the cob then it is just a matter of grinding the corn into meal when you want. If you are lucky enough to live close to a gristmill, you can take your corn there and possibly have it stone ground for a small fee.
You can, of course, grind your corn by hand using a mortar and pestle, but this is labor-intensive and time-consuming. You can make your own or buy one. A heavy rock with a depression and a smaller rock used as a grinding tool can act as a mortar and pestle, and in years past, corn and other grains were ground into flour and paste in just this manner.
A coffee grinder works as well as anything to grind your dried corn into meal. Make sure, however, that if you use one that has ground coffee or spices in the past that you clean it well, unless you would like a bit of coffee or spice flavor in your meal. Wondermill also makes an excellent hand grain mill that make the job a lot easier.
Now That Your Corn Is Ground into Meal
Combine cornmeal with water and salt and slowly heat until thick to make mush. Mush is a hearty breakfast meal that can be eaten like oatmeal or allowed to cool and harden in a loaf pan, for example, and then slice and fry in a pan with a little butter or lard. Maple syrup, honey, diced fruits, sugar, and/or milk can be added for flavor.
Making Corn Bread
Below is a basic recipe that can be easily adapted to taste. You can add cooked corn, and some people like to add creamed corn, but if you do add creamed corn, you may have to adjust the amount of liquid and reduce or eliminate the sugar. You can add Jalapenos, or some other hot peppers to spice up your cornbread, as well as grated cheese, and cooked bacon or bacon bits.
- 1 cup milk
- 1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
- 1 egg
- 1 1/4 cups cornmeal
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
Preheat your oven to 400° F, or if making in a cast iron skillet with a lid warm the skillet, lid and oil before adding the batter.
Beat the milk, butter, and egg in large bowl and then stir in remaining ingredients until flour is moistened. You want your batter to be lumpy. Pour batter into your greased pan or skillet. After 20 minutes or so check by inserting a toothpick, if the toothpick is dry when pulled out, then your corn bread is done (Betty Crocker, n.d.).
Ground cornmeal can be used as a coating for fried foods or made into a batter for batter-dipped fish, vegetables, and other foods that can be deep-fried. In years past, cornmeal was routinely added as a thickener to boiled vegetable dishes, stews, and soups.