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zoe b

Chef Sean Brock's Sour Corn Recipe

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I'm watching season 2 of Mind of a Chef on Netflix right now. Brock does eight or so episodes, and they are great. In the Appalachia episode he mentions making sour corn, a fermented process by the sound of it. I want to try this. Only found one mention of it online with a recipe, and wonder if it is correct, and safe!

 

I've done lots of traditional canning, and some fermentation, but nothing quite like this, so advice is welcome.

 

I'm mostly unsure about what to do after the 6-8 weeks--do I drain the corn and add a new water/vinegar mix, or just water, which doesn't seem safe?

 

posted on Qorum

 

  • 20 ears of white hickory king corn on the cob
  • 1 gallon of heinz white vinegar
  • 1 cup canning salt/pickling salt
  • Directions:
    1. 1). Cook your White Hickory King Corn until done.
    2. 2). In another large pot mix 2 cups of vinegar to 1 gallon of spring water to a rolling boil. This is a step you estimate how much liquid you will need and you can always make another pot to finish up what amount of corn you have.
    3. 3). Sterilize pint jars and lids per Ball jar directions.
    4. 4.) Cool the corn until you can handle it, cut it off the cob and fill jars to 1 inch from the top.
    5. 5). Put 1/2 tsp of canning salt in the jar on top of the corn.
    6. 6). Fill with boiling liquid leaving 1/2 inch headspace.
    7. 7). Wipe rim of jars, place on sterilized lid and band, tighten snuggly by hand.
    8. 8). Place in a cool dark place to work, approximately 6 - 8 weeks.
    9. 9). When done working, you can take the jars of pickled corn, remove caps, fill with spring water again leaving 1/2 inch headspace, replace lid with clean lid and place in a water bath canner to seal for about 15

Edited by zoe b (log)

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Try googling "appalachia sour corn". The corn is not vinegar-fermented. It's lacto-fermented like sauerkraut.

 

Google shd bring up recipes, commentary, and pix. Some fascinating material about other Appalachian foods also. Apparently sour corn is a classic food of Appalachia.

 

One recipe from the google search:
http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2004-05-19/news/0405180027_1_pickled-corn-recipe-requests-distilled-water

 

Another good recipe from the same search, see second paragraph:
http://books.google.com/books?id=TjXEAgAAQBAJ&pg=PA215&lpg=PA215&dq=appalachia+sour+corn&source=bl&ots=DYemp8T11t&sig=XPwXg5cRzgNfEe1PaCDUQHA1Vcs&hl=en&sa=X&ei=IPrvU4y9Acj9oASniIEo&ved=0CEMQ6AEwBg#v=onepage&q=appalachia%20sour%20corn&f=false

 

Some of those traditional dishes from Appalachia were making my mouth water, especially the pix from the Appalachian Food Summit. Yes, you read that right. Here:
http://www.appalachianhistory.net/2014/05/love-beans-pie-luck-appalachia.html

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I shd have also included the Cherokee origins of this pickle. (From a different Google search.)

 

 

 

This book Cherokee Cooking is the only cookbook I've found that is written by a full-blooded Cherokee about their  cooking in North Georgia. It's written by the Clemmons family; he just passed away last year and his wife Nancy is  a widow. [The book] is just wonderful and it's broken up into all the clans of the Cherokee and their general ways of  approaching their food. So whether it's coarse corn, green corn versus aged corn, all these different corn recipes.  50% of their diet was foraged, so this book leads me now to being able to identify things the way a Cherokee  would with their diet. These different wild herbs, there's one, it's good with beans, but it's not really good eaten raw.  It actually kind of tastes like English leather. [Laughs.] But with beans it becomes something substantial and  wonderful. And there's a language in there on how to evaluate foraged ingredients, which is very important to me.  It's a how-to, it's a real guidebook.

 

There's this one recipe, it's for sour corn and they would age corn like whiskey, but it's captured at a different  stage of evolution. Like one day old or two days old, it happens very fast because of all the sugar. And it's amazing,  it tastes like a fresh corn salad. It's a sour corn dish, we served it with shaved smoked fatback. It really has this  amazing natural sour dramatic flavor.
http://eater.com/archives/2012/09/10/linton-hopkins-on-how-to-read-cookbooks-literary-criticism-and-mayonnaise.php

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The recipe isn't really clear whether you simply add water to the head (to compensate for any evaporation, which I am guessing is what was meant), or you drain to remove salt and replace with water. It doesn't make sense to me to pressure can something in water. Anyway, you have a pickle. I would freeze rather than can.

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As a native Appalachian, I can tell you this...it's not that complicated, really.

 

Take your measure of corn, however much, or little. Salt it liberally, until it gives up its juice, and tastes a bit salty. You want to taste the salt more than the corn, just slightly, as this will change over time. Add some vinegar, about a tablespoon at a time, until it becomes just slightly sour, and stop. Pack fairly tightly into crocks of some sort, and cover with muslin, or canvas. Store for 6-8 weeks before freezing, or canning. Pick the coolest, darkest place you can find, and don't be afraid to adjust the time until its ready. You'll know.

 

On the cob will take longer to "get good" than cut corn will, but either way, its delightful!

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I'm a lifelong professional chef. If that doesn't explain some of my mental and emotional quirks, maybe you should see a doctor, and have some of yours examined...

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Thanks so much, you guys.

The links are truly fascinating, djyee--will send me off exploring for a few hours or days.

I got kind of stymied in my googling as I was getting sites telling you how to make sour corn to use as bait for wild pigs--scared me a little.

One of the reasons I was confused was because the recipe seems to be half fermentation, half pickle!

I'm more interested in fermenting, so will go that way.

And, David, thank you for making it simple--just what I needed.

Will report back!

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20140817_112244.jpg

OK, 20 ears of corn, all smooshed up and mixed with salt. I know, it shouldn't be plastic, but of my two crocks, one is too small and one way too large.


Edited by zoe b (log)

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