Thursday, October 27, 2011

Harvest Ingredient 24: Maize (Corn)



As far as harvest ingredients go, this really is THE BIG ONE!!  It is the Mother Grain.  It was probably under some type of cultivation 12,000 years ago!  It was the backbone of a the great Mother Culture:  the Olmeca.  I don't think there is a plant that is used for food more revered or more sacred than corn!  I also cannot think of one that had such a wide regional distribution in pre-contact times than this strange form of grass.  Forms of corn were farmed as far north as Canada, and in pre-Incan Andes the use of maize was ancient.



The term "corn" comes from the English word for grain of European, Middle Eastern and African origin, most notably wheat.  It is a sort of generic term for "grain."  The word Maize has been applied to the cobbed grass that most Americans call corn; it is a Spanish corruption of the Taino world "Mahiz," which is the Arawak word for "corn."  


The whole history of corn is so varied and such a sacred and widespread story in the Americas that a history of it in the confines of these "harvest" post would be at least twice and long as the longest of them so far.  That is a post for another time, when there is enough "mental space" to do it justice.  Here are some worlds of corn across the Americas and some interesting varieties:

Abenaki Red Corn

Ancient Anasazi cultivar, actually grown from a source found in New Mexican cave
Modern Anasazi Red Sweet Corm, dried 


Aztec Black Corn

Modern Aztec Corn

Modern Caribbean Sweet Corn



Cherokee Long Ear Popcorn


Cherokee Squaw Corn

Cherokee White Eagle Corn

Chippewa Flint Corn

Dakota Dried Corn

Dakota Blue/Black Popcorn

Golden Bantam Corn introduced formally in 1902, the stock had bee around for at least 50 years.  It's bi-color give away it's native ancestry
Hopi Blue Corn

The four varieties of Hopi corn, one for each sacred direction.  The white corn is used ceremonially for a harvest corn roast with King and Queen cobs every fall.
Isleta Pueblo Blue Corn Kernels
Iroquoise Strawberry Corn

Various type of Plains or Lakota corns, including pod corn, second from the bottom

Lenni Lenape (aka Delaware) Blue Corn

Bloody Butcher, probably from a Lenape cultivar, 1800 West Virginia

Various types of Maya corn and popcorn

Native Mexican popcorn

Different types of Mexican Corn and Popcorn

Miami 8-Row White Flint Corn



Narragansett Flint Corn

Navajo Dineh Blue Corn

Oaxacan Green Dent Corn

Ojibwe Flint Corn, dried and treated

Onieda White Corn (I know it looks yellow)

Osage Silver Queen White Sweet Corn

Pawnee Long Corn



Several varieties of corn grown at the Pueblos in New Mexico

Peruvian Black Corn, from a Quechua (Inca) crop

Seminole Corn drying
Original Tohono O'odham cultivar, called Papago Corn

60 Day Corn Tohono O'odham (Papago) cultivar

Zuni Black Corn
Zuni multicolor corn

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