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Parched Corn

Copyright November 3, 2015 and December 5, 2015 by Robert Wayne Atkins, P.E.
All Rights Reserved.


The History of Parched Grain

The Holy Bible (English Standard Version) mentions parched grain in the following scripture verses (somewhere between approximately 1400 B.C. to 1100 B.C.):

  1. Joshua 5:11 - And the day after the Passover, on that very day, they ate of the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and parched grain.

  2. Ruth 2:14 - And at mealtime Boaz said to her, "Come here and eat some bread and dip your morsel in the wine." So she sat beside the reapers, and he passed to her roasted grain. And she ate until she was satisfied, and she had some left over.

  3. 1 Samuel 17:17 - And Jesse said to David his son, "Take for your brothers an ephah of this parched grain, and these ten loaves, and carry them quickly to the camp to your brothers."

  4. 1 Samuel 25:18 - Then Abigail made haste and took two hundred loaves and two skins of wine and five sheep already prepared and five seahs of parched grain and a hundred clusters of raisins and two hundred cakes of figs, and laid them on donkeys.

  5. 2 Samuel 17:27-29 - When David came to Mahanaim, Shobi the son of Nahash from Rabbah of the Ammonites, and Machir the son of Ammiel from Lo-debar, and Barzillai the Gileadite from Rogelim, brought beds, basins, and earthen vessels, wheat, barley, flour, parched grain, beans and lentils, honey and curds and sheep and cheese from the herd, for David and the people with him to eat, for they said, "The people are hungry and weary and thirsty in the wilderness."
There are also a wide variety of stories about the American Indians teaching the first European settlers how to grow and harvest corn, and how to preserve it, and how to cook it and eat it in a wide variety of ways, including how to parch corn.


How to Parch Corn

The best corn to use is dent corn (field corn) if you intend to grind the parched corn into cornmeal. However, sweet corn is the best corn to use if you intend to eat the parched corn without grinding it into cornmeal. Never try to parch popcorn because popcorn will pop and puff up and it will not parch. Dry the corn indoors on the cobs. When dry, wrap your fist around the corn and twist your closed fist around the outside of the cob. The kernels should easily separate from the cob if the corn is dry enough.

Grease a skillet with a very light coating of olive oil (or vegetable oil, or bacon grease, or lard). Heat skillet over medium-low heat. Pour just enough dry corn into the hot skillet to barely cover the bottom of the skillet in one layer of corn, with a little space between the kernels. Each kernel needs to touch the bottom of the skillet. Continuously stir the corn (or shake the skillet ) to prevent scorching. Depending on the heat, after 5 to 8 minutes the corn will swell into round kernels. If the parched corn kernel is hard to bite then it has not been cooked long enough.

Dry Corn Kernels Cooked Over
Medium-Low Heat For 7 Minutes
Yellow Dent Corn White Sweet Corn
Yellow Dent Corn
2 Before Cooking - 2 After Cooking
White Sweet Corn
2 Before Cooking - 2 After Cooking

Yellow corn should turn brown and white corn should turn a dark tan. It is better to cook just a little longer than not long enough. A few kernels may pop loudly but they will not puff up because you are not using popcorn. If a lot of kernels pop then the heat is too high.

Pour the hot round kernels onto a paper towel. Sprinkle with a little salt. Flip the kernels over on the paper towel to help remove the oil.

When cool, store at room temperature in a plastic bag or in a plastic container with a lid. The parched corn will stay fresh a long time.

Some uses of parched corn are:
1. Quick Snack: It is crunchy and easy to digest. If it is hard to bite then it was not cooked long enough.
2. Granola Trail Mix: Combine it with your favorite nuts, dried fruits, raisins, and/or pretzel pieces.
3. Sweet Treat: Mix it with a little brown sugar. (Caution: This can become an addictive sweet treat.)
4. Complete Meal: Mix it with cooked diced sweet peppers, onions, tomatoes, etc.
5. Cornmeal: Grind it into cornmeal.


Cornmeal Made from Parched Corn
(Called Rockahominy or Pinole)

Grind parched corn in a grain grinder that is designed to grind corn kernels. If the texture of the ground cornmeal is not uniform, then sift it and grind the larger pieces of parched corn a second time.

1. Parched cornmeal can be used in almost any recipe in place of regular cornmeal.
2. It can be made into a healthy beverage by mixing a small amount of it with water and drinking it.
3. It has a lower moisture content than regular cornmeal and therefore it will remain fresh longer.
4. It digests and releases its energy slowly over a long period of time. Therefore you will not get hungry as quickly when compared to eating the same food item made with regular cornmeal.


Using Frozen Corn to Make Parched Corn

The above instructions explain how to take fresh corn on the cob, dry it, and then later cook it into parched corn. In my opinion, making parched corn from dry corn kernels is a nice alternative use for dry corn kernels.

However, most of the instructions on the internet explain how to use "frozen sweet corn" to make parched corn. In my opinion, if you already have sweet corn that has been properly prepared and correctly frozen then you should just cook and eat that frozen corn. Adding extra steps to thaw the frozen corn, and then dry it slowly inside a warm oven, and then parch it in a skillet, is just adding more time, more labor, and using more fuel than would be appropriate during hard times.


Two Recipes Using Parched Cornmeal

Johnny Cakes:

Ingredients:
1 cup parched cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 level teaspoon sugar (optional)
1-1/3 cup boiling water
1 teaspoon oil for the griddle or skillet
2 teaspoons oil for the Johnny Cakes
Option 1: Use 2/3 cup hot milk and 2/3 cup boiling water.
Option 2: Use 1-1/3 cup hot milk and no water.
Cooking Directions: Combine the parched cornmeal, salt, and sugar (optional) in a medium size bowl and mix well. Pour the boiling water (or hot milk) over the dry mixture and stir until the batter is thick (similar to mashed potatoes). Put a little olive oil, vegetable oil, lard, or bacon grease onto a hot griddle or skillet. Drop some batter onto the griddle (or skillet), press it down, and fry for 5 or 6 minutes until the edges of the Johnny Cake turns brown. Drizzle 1/2 teaspoon oil over the top of the Johnny Cake and then flip it over and cook 5 minutes on the other side. Be sure it is done and that the Johnny Cake is cooked in the middle. Serve hot.

Parched Cornmeal Pancakes:

Ingredients:
2/3 cup flour (not self-rising)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup parched cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 level tablespoon sugar
1 egg
2/3 cup milk
2 tablespoons oil
pancake syrup or maple syrup
Option: If you wish to use self-rising flour then you should omit the baking powder.
Cooking Directions: Combine the flour, baking powder, parched cornmeal, salt, and sugar in a medium size bowl and mix well. In a different bowl mix the egg, milk, and oil, and then pour the wet mixture into the first bowl with the dry ingredients, and mix well. Put a little olive oil, vegetable oil, lard, or bacon grease onto a hot griddle or skillet. Drop some pancake batter onto the griddle (or skillet) and fry for 5 or 6 minutes or until the bubbles stop appearing on the top side of the pancake. Flip the pancake over and cook the other side until it is golden brown. Serve hot with syrup.



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