Indian Corn, a kernel by any other name should be so colorful. . .

“Colors burst in wild explosions
Fiery, flaming shades of fall
All in accord with my pounding heart
Is not this a true autumn day?
Just the still melancholy that I love — that makes life and nature harmonize.
The birds are consulting about their migrations, the trees are putting on the hectic or the pallid hues of decay, and begin to strew the ground, that one’s very footsteps may not disturb the repose of earth and air, while they give us a scent that is a perfect anodyne to the restless spirit.
Delicious autumn!
My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.

George Eliot

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(Indian corn / Julie Cook / 2014)

Images of Indian or Calico Corn, otherwise known as Flint Corn.
Did you know that Flint corn is one of the original species of corn grown by most tribes of North American Native Indians? The yellow and white sweet corns, that ubiquitous staple found at most back yard BBQs, that humble buttery and salty corn on the cob, was developed many years later, long after corn was introduced to the first European settlers.

Indian corn is also known as Flint corn because of its very hard exterior–as in, it is as hard as flint. This variety of corn consists of less water molecules and less starch then what is known as “sweet” corn, so when it dries, its kernels remain uniformed and compact unlike more traditional corns whose kernels pull away from one another leaving the familiar “dent” around the kernels— therefore earning the more familiar yellow corn the name of “Dent” corn. Because Indian corn does dry compact, leaving the cob appearing full, it is a wonderful little byproduct of Nature suitable for Fall decorating.

And because Flint corn contains less water, it is much less prone to freezing—which in turn allows for the corn to be harvested much later, well into the late months of Fall. It was one of the few, if not the only, crop recorded in Vermont to have survived the harsh harvest season of 1816 when Vermont and her sister New England states recorded the phenomenon known as “the year without Summer.”

The year of 1816 was recorded globally as one of the coldest and harshest on record. Many people were left to starve due to the lack of harvestable produce as snows and frosts were recorded late into the Summer months. Many people in North America and Northern Europe froze to death during the long brutal winter. Climatologist associated the never ending winter with the 1815 volcanic eruption of Mt Tambora in Indonesia. The thick suffocating and wide spreading ash cloud literally dimmed the warming effects of the sun on a massive and global scale— which in turn caused a catastrophic food shortage. Indian corn was one of the few sustainable crops to survive.

Flint corn is most often ground into meal for polenta, posole, or even for animal fodder. It is the preferred corn for the making of hominy and is a popular corn used for “popping” corn—

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5 comments on “Indian Corn, a kernel by any other name should be so colorful. . .

  1. David says:

    Well that’s something new I have learned today! I think we only get the yellow variety here. John would eat it by the bucketload if he could. I don’t know much about Tambora but I sailed past Krakatoa in 1977 and it was smoking at the time! Hope you have a blessed weekend Julie. David

    • I mean really…I took the picture and had no idea what to add so I did a little research…who knew corn was much more than corn…one little tidbit of fact lead to another—I had always heard about the “year without summer” being caused by the eruption of Mt Tambora—but never knew that the humble little indian corn was to be the life sustainer for so many. . .who new?! 🙂
      Your fun facts for the weekend 🙂
      Blessings David–
      Julie

  2. Lynda says:

    I agree with George Eliot about autumn: :My very soul is wedded to it…”. Although I drive down a very busy highway into the city of Toronto to reach the university, the Don Valley has been left relatively untouched and autumn is awe-inspiring as I travel and marvel at the colours that God has given un in the autumn leaves.

    So much interesting information about corn. All that I know is that Peaches and Cream corn dripping with butter and salt is more than delicious!

    Enjoy a wonderful weekend.

    • My heavens—peaches and cream is one of my favorite varieties!!—I planted 4 different types last season, with the Peaches and Cream being my favorite—usually around here Silver queen is the popular grower—but I love trying the heirlooms and less popular choices—
      Your drive into school sounds very peaceful (until you get to the outskirts of Toronto!) Our leaves are still mostly green—it’s going to be a late change this year where as this same time last year, everything was in full glory!!
      I know what you mean about the corn—who knew?! I was wondering what to put with my picture of the corn, I did a little research and one thing lead to another…not the humble little corn on the cob after all 🙂
      A joyous weekend Lynda!!
      Julie

  3. Wow, very interesting post about indian corn! And you quoted my most favorite of all autumn lines by George Eliot AKA Mary Ann Evans. And she’s so right; my very soul is wedded to autumn!!! Hugs, N 🙂 ❤

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