The history of corn in America is long and very complicated. Formerly known as maize, corn was domesticated in Mexico by indigenous tribes 9,000 years ago. It played an integral part in Native American culture due to its versatility and all parts of the plant were essential. Dried corn turned into hominy, ground corn was made into cornmeal or grits, fermented corn created chicha (maize beer), and husks were sewn into sleeping mats and other useful accessories.
When colonist came to the Americas in the 1490’s, they quickly understood the value of corn and adopted its uses from indigenous cultures in the Americas.
Fast-forward a couple thousand years, corn has completely transformed from the traditional maize grown by Native Americans due to genetic modifications. In fact, 90% of the corn grown in the world today has been genetically modified or altered from its original state, creating monoculture, nutrient-less soil and crops, and pest resistant plants, posing a threat to our health.
With the way corn is being cultivated and grown like it is today, it is refreshing to discover a vendor like Castle Valley Mill. Located in the heart of Bucks County, Castle Valley Mill grinds grains, including wheat, corn, faro, and more, with a buhr-stone mill. All of their grains are whole grain, contain no preservatives or GMOs, and are locally grown whenever possible.
All of Castle Valley Mill’s products are stone ground too. Unlike conventional flour in which nutrients are essentially burned off in the production process, stone milling ensures that all of the nutrients are kept within the grains. Mark Fischer, the owner and operator of Castle Valley Mill, tells WHYY,
“There are two things we do that keeps all the nutrition in the food. One is that we are using the whole grain so that when we grind it we are grinding the outside bran along with the inside seed part called the germ and the endosperm which is the inside chalky part. So we are keeping the whole grain together in one piece and all the vitamins and nutrition associated with it. The other thing we are doing is stone grinding it. When you grind commercially using a roller mill, the grains are exposed to an extremely hot temperature which literally cooks out all the vitamins. Because of this, all flour has to say enriched or fortified so you know they have to squirt synthetic vitamins back in to give it nutritional value. When you grind it on stones it’s a very slow process and it keeps the product cool so all the vitamins and nutrition stay in.”
Castle Valley Mill cornmeal is the newest item in the Back To Basics program as they are literally going back to the basics by preserving a dying tradition. In an effort to keep costs low, cornmeal will not be packaged in a cloth bag but should still be kept in the freezer to prevent spoilage. We are very excited to work with Mark and Castle Valley Mill at a deeper level. The Co-op truly stands behind this wonderful product, which will be available at a lower cost to everyone beginning April 1st!
MEGAN’S CASTLE VALLEY MILL
Start by positioning a rack in the center of your oven. Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Grease a 9×9 inch pan.
In a large bowl thoroughly whisk together:
3/4 cups all purpose flour
11/4 cups Castle Valley Mill cornmeal
1 to 4 tablespoons of sugar (base on personal preference)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Whisk together in a separate bowl:
2 large eggs
2/3 cup milk
2/3 cup buttermilk
Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until moistened. Fold in:
2 to 3 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
Pour batter into pan making sure to spread it into the corners. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.
Test by inserting a toothpick in the center. The corn bread is finished when the toothpick comes out clean. Best if served warm.
The texture of this cornbread will be a littler than traditional southern corn bread. The batter can be baked in a loaf pan or as muffins. It is a very forgiving recipce and works well with substitutions. This recipe also lends itself for add in’s such as raisins, nuts, hot peppers, and a varity of diferent spices.