Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Peace, Love & Hominy

    I had no idea what Hominy was before today ... what an adventure! It was an all day experience, but we were able to enjoy it with our good Amish friends. 
   Hominy, for all those who are as naive as I was, is corn that expands through a rigorous boiling and soaking process. Our friends eat it warm with beef gravy. 

    First we had to take all the kernels off of the corn cobs. The corn we used was not sweet corn, it was a variety of field corn. I thought field corn was just for horses, but today I guess I learned differently didn't I?  

     We used this nifty contraption that we sat over a galvanized tub. It spun the corn and used spikes to strip the cob. It took some muscle to turn the wheel, but we had a lot of willing hands.

     We had to blow away all the chaff before butting the corn in the kettle.We tried lots of different tactics and the one that worked the best was pouring it slowly from one pail to another while one of the Amish girls flapped her apron next to it. 

    This is what it looked like at the bottom of the boiler. The burner is gas powered and gets really hot, but it's hard to see the flame because a gas flame is colorless.

   This is the gas line that feeds the burner through a little door on the side..

Mother & Daughter
     We all took turns stirring the corn with this enormous paddle thing ... in future pictures you'll be able to see what it looks like in the end.

    We added lye to the water part way through. The lye was to crack the corn's hard outer shell. The black speck in the water are the ends of the kernels which were stripped off by the lye. 

     This is what the contents of the kettle looks like after it's boiled for the allotted time. The liquid that the corn is swimming in has turned thick like maple syrup, but it smells like burn cornmeal.

Don't Burn Yourself!

     Now we wash and wash and WASH the corn until all the lye is gone. The average number of washes is six. but it's really until the water remains clear.
    Recognize these tubs? Yes, these are the same tubs we washed the clothes in.

     Then it's boiled again, longer this time. This time without lye.


    See how the corn has swelled to nearly three times it's size? 

    Now it soaks for two days. The water has to be changed every two hours, which can get tedious I'm sure. After it's done soaking it's canned or frozen and stored for the winter.

 Here are some close ups of how it looks.

    It has a gummy/chewy texture and tastes like cornmeal. I'm eager to try it with gravy.

     Mom is going to use it to make matsza out of it and try making our own corn tortillas. That is going to be yet another adventure! I Love My Life!