Saturday, March 2, 2013

Grow your own polenta

Last summer, for reasons that I cannot entirely comprehend, I became gripped (gripped, I tell you!) by the idea of manufacturing my own polenta. I went so far as to track down and procure a corn seed designed specifically for this purpose, from a faraway source that I am not at liberty to disclose. (For real. The stuff has been determined to be illegal in the United States.)

Being the patient, do-things-the-right-way type, and knowing not a thing about growing corn or making polenta, I searched the mighty interweb seeking guidance but found none. And so, kernels in hand, I decided on a strategy not the least bit unfamiliar to me: I'd just wing it!

Thrilled doesn't quite describe my reaction to the outcome. The fourteen ears of corn that I had designated for use in this experiment yielded five cups of the sweetest, best-tasting polenta that I've ever had. No kidding. It was terrific! I'm already planning this summer's corn crop, and it's going to be bigger than last year's. Just don't tell the Feds about it, okay.

So here's how it went down. When the corn was ready last July I peeled back the husks to expose the ears, then tied the ears together with string and hung them from a curtain rod in the dining room so that they could dry out.

Around November I decided that I had had enough of the waiting game and so I cut the ears down and got to work.

I suppose there are tools that one could use to extricate the kernels but I was in an impatient mood and so I just used my fingers. For the most part simply rubbing the kernels with some force did the trick.

Like so.

In small batches I then started working the kernels in the Vitamix. This is not the best tool for milling polenta, as it's powerful and can turn the kernels to powder pretty quickly if you're not careful. But I was careful, pulsing as slowly as I could get away with.

And in the end I had this pretty nice mountain of gold.

The consistency wasn't terribly uniform, but I've got time to come up with another method for this coming summer's crop.

The most important thing was the taste. I've had a lot of polenta in my life, plenty of it very good quality and from all over the world. This stuff was the best. Because it tasted like sweet corn. Everybody who tried it agreed. And everybody wanted more.

Which is reason enough to seriously up production this summer.

I can't wait.


James said...


Anonymous said...

Wow. I'm impressed. I've only had polenta a few times and I like it but not sure what to do with it. :)


Gio said...

Bravo indeed! I've tried growing corn in my suburban garden, a little south of you actually, and the racoons had a fine meal so it was a complete failure. The color of your corn is wonderful.. I can just imagine how the polenta tasted.

Arlene said...

Awesome. But your "associate" must be a saint to have corn hanging in the dining room!! I don't know her but I love her!

Mister Meatball said...

You have no idea what I get away with around here.

diary of a tomato said...

Perfect timing! I was just contemplating the bunch of Indian corn sitting on my mantle, and wondering if I could use it to make polenta out of...

Mister Meatball said...

All's I know is that the feds confiscated the stuff.

Anonymous said...

I also started growing polenta corn last year but I live in calif. so I just let the corn dry out on the stalk in the field. Kitchen aid makes a mill attachment for grinding corn that makes the job easy. Also Southern Exposure Seed Exchange has some great varieties of flint and dent corns for polenta.

Mister Meatball said...

Thanks for the tip on the seeds.