Sunday, November 13, 2011

Winnowing the corn, with some grinding too!

I've noticed that its very difficult for me to start projects when I've never done them before. If I don't have a very clear picture of how things will go, I tend to put things off. But my "just one thing" this week was to deal with the corn I grew and so it must be dealt with.

I "threshed" (a term I'm not sure is correct in this case because I've only heard it used for wheat, but which Wikipedia says "is the step in grain preparation after harvesting and before winnowing" and that's what I was doing, so I'm using the term.) the corn easily enough. It had been drying on the table for a few weeks, and I simply grabbed a bowl and the corn and season 1 of the television show Heroes et voila! Done after only watching two episodes.

Winnowing was another matter. I had seen the concept: fan, stool, bowls etc. and had all the supplies. I had even watched some winnowing videos on YouTube. (Nerd!) But it took a lot to get out there and winnow. I also wasn't sure how long it would take, and this was a block. It reminds me of Wendy McClure's churning butter project in "The Wilder Life." She had read all about how to churn, but wasn't sure how long it would take, so she saved the task for a company holiday when she didn't have to go into work and started early in the morning to ensure she had enough time. As someone who has made butter from cream, this was rather amusing because the process takes minutes rather than hours. But how was she to know? And I was in the same boat with my winnowing.

Here is my bag of corn.

Corn that has been winnowed, safe in their safekeeping jars. I used two large Nancy's Yogurt containers to pass the corn back and forth in front of the fan.

Here's the winnowing setup, complete will spilled corn from when I accidentally knocked the fan off the stool and managed to fling corn about while trying to right it. If you google "winnow" you will be presented with a goodly number of pictures of brown-skinned people standing on a square of material covered in grain, holding a basket and flinging grain into the air.
That setup is because back in the day, people who wanted to winnow had to wait for a windy (and sunny) day. They would then throw their grain in the air, catching it in the basket and the wind would take the chaff away. Now that we have box fans and electricty, one can just set up a box fan and drop the grain back and forth between two "baskets" (or Nancy's Yogurt containers, in my case) and the fan blows away the chaff. Aside from the corn spilling incident, it went well and quickly. I think the whole process took 45 minutes with setup and break down. That gave me about 22 cups of grain. Not bad, not bad.

On to the grinding!
My mother brought over my Grandma Collins' old meat grinder. It has three settings of grind. It easily went together, attached to the table and a tiny drop of oil dealt with the squeaking.

An early pass through.


Even later!

My final product and supplies:
The polenta made was good, but not ground quite enough. I'll put it through more often the next time I grind.


Sara K. said...

Way to go Little Red Hen!!!! I'm so impressed. The qauestion is, did you share it with Matty Catty?

Patricia said...

I don't know if he likes polenta or not. But no, I did not share.