Corn is Ripening in the Fields!

Alan Zuchowski checks this year’s crop of Mandan corn. This variety mills into a very fine, lavender colored flour.

The recently harvested heritage wheats are drying in the barns at Alan Zuchowski’s Lazy Acres Farm in Hadley, MA. Meanwhile, varieties of milling corn like Flint, Mandan, Nothstine, and Hopi Blue are ripening in the fields alongside this year’s new crop of popcorn. Alan worked with the Agriculture Departments at U Mass, Waltham and Plimouth Plantation to reintroduce varieties of grains almost lost to this area. Many of these varieties have a history in the Pioneer Valley predating the settlement of the Plimouth Colony, and are, in fact, what the Pilgrims would have encountered Native American Indians growing.

A close up showing the multi-colored kernels of Mandan corn.

Cultivating these varieties is important not only for preserving our heritage and because they are well-adapted to our region’s climate but because they also taste great! Mandan, for example, has a very fine pericarp or outer skin, and a soft, plump kernel so it mills into a very fine, delicious flour that is slightly lavender in color. Nothstine Dent makes one of the sweetest corn meals you’ll ever taste, making it perfect for cornbreads, muffins, and pancakes. We look forward to including these milling corns in this year’s share and can’t wait to start using them ourselves!

Popping corn ripening in the field.

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