Tuesday, May 26, 2015

When Corn Was Not Yellow

As another Lame Cherry exclusive in matter anti matter.

This is an examination of the historic corn varieties of the Northern Great Plains. This is a unique niche in the farming Aboriginals. The Mandans prevailed in known varieties as Nuetta and Mandan Bride, but in most cases the corns which appeared as bases for varieties still in genetic use come from the Hidatsa, via the outstanding work of Oscar Will of Bismark North Dakota.

We raised nine well marked varieties of com in our village, following are the names of the varieties: At^TdtsoTd

Fol- (White hard)

(White) Ta'di tsoTd

(Yellow hard) Tsi'di tapa'

(Yellow soft) Ma^ikadicakS

(Gummy) Do'ohi

(Blue) Hi'ci cS'pi

(Red dark) Hi'tsiica .

(light-red) At^'ki aku^

hi'tsiica (White, kind of light red)

Hard white Soft white Hard yellow Soft yellow Gummy Blue

Dark red Light red Pink top

Of the nine varieties, the at^ld, or soft white, was the kind most raised in our village. The ma'ikadicakg, or giunmy, was least raised, as almost its only use was in making com balls. In my father's family, we raised two kinds of com, tsi'di tsold, or hard yellow; and at^ld, or soft white.

Hard white used in boiling dishes. Soft white used in flour and most every use.

The yellow corn was pounded to form a mush. The hard yellow and soft yellow were the "sweet" corns and were roasted to bring out the sweetness.

The corn ball varieties were made into flour and then boiled in water for one hour.

The blue, dark and light red corns were soft, were all prepared the same way and their flavor was the same and could not be told apart.

The gummy corns were of light red, flaked yellow with red, and white. These corns resembled sweet corns, in when dried, they shriveled up as modern sweet corns do.
This was the main corn ball variety. It had a unique property in when green boiled, the kernels would form a gum in the mouth when chewed.
These gummy balls were started by partially parching the corn, and some of this corn variety would pop open. Animal fats were rendered and added to the parched corn and pounded into an oily meal, which was formed into balls and boiled in water.

These corn balls were given by a mother in law, to her daughter, and then presented to her husband for him to eat.

The whites and yellow corns were prepared as hominy. Only cottonwood and elm ash, about one quart, was used as a lye for the corn.
A pot of water was boiled, the ash added, and as boiling was complete, the lye was strained off, and returned to the fire, where the corn was added and boiled until the kernels were white.
This corn was then washed twice and various dishes were made from it.

These 5 principle corns all had different flavors in soft and hard white and yellow and the gummy type.

The soft white was the earliest to ripen.

There were corn mutant varieties, some having 18 rows of kernels, some having double rows with empty spaces in between, sometimes double ears appeared, in good years double ears appeared on the stalks.

These were the Great Plains varieties which were quite different and diverse from the eastern and southwestern varieties of corn, which were interesting in having qualities more unique than the blue or red corns which formed the basis of those civilization's corns.

From the work of Oscar Will, there are some of these varieties still available. Gurney's of South Dakota assisted in propigating numbers of these corns too, which the fine work of Glenn Drowns of Iowa still offer glimpses of these squaw corns for growers today.

The reality is most people have absolutely no comprehension as to what to do with these flint are semi sweet varieties. They are more diverse in use than meal, hominy or flour. One does though from the Hidatsa recollections find the reality as to why yellow corn is prevalent in modern cultures. It simply was a sweeter corn in flavor, and having eye appeal, it is what humans grew.
Unfortunately modern golden corn meal is not sweet in the least, and it is wearing in eating it too often.