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Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Finishing up odd tasks

Yesterday and today were spent just tying up the loose ends after the butchering. I got the lard re-melted and put into hot clean canning jars and it is all sealed up and ready for storage. Easy to do, just get lard melted and really hot and pout into hot jars and put on the 2 piece lids. As the lard cools it will seal and can then be stored in the pantry. It will keep fresh without refrigeration for a year or more. Not sure how long as I havent had a chance to keep it longer.
  The lard is golden colored when it is fresh and still hot but changes to white when cool.
Now off to the cellar with the fresh lard. After I got this all done I started on making my hominy. Jason had about 2 or so gallons of dry shelled corn left from feeding Petunia and it was perfect for what I wanted. It was the same corn we shell for corn meal and is also used for stock feed. The open pollinated Boone County White. So I washed it really good and picked out all the bad grains and red and blue ones. Then let the corn set over night in the kettle with water to cover.

The corn was allowed to soak in the water, no lye, till the next morning. I knew this corn was very dry and hard and I soaked it to hopefully lessen the cooking time. It did help some but still took a few hours.

 The next morning I added about 1/4 cup of Red Devil lye to the cold water in the stainless steel kettle with the corn. You must always use stainless or an enamel cooker for the first step as the lye will eat thru any other metals. Also use wood or stainless steel utensils to stir with as well. Ideally this step should be done outside as to not have all the fumes from the lye in the house but I am in the summer kitchen with good ventilation. But if you do cook the lye/corn inside and have a range hood, as soon as the corn is taken off the burner it is a good time to take a damp cloth and wipe off any greasy residue that has built up. Just a plus to cooking hominy inside. The fumes are strong enough to dissolve the film on your range hood.  Anyway back to the corn, you must have several inches of water above the corn level in order to be able to stir and keep the corn from sticking to the bottom of your cooker. It does need to cook at a gentle boil for a couple hours. You can test to see if it is done by taking a few grains to the sink and running them under water for a minute and then squeeze them,. If the corn can be mashed with your 2 fingers it is done enough to rinse the first time. Check it the first time after about an hour of cooking, then every 15 minutes or so as you dont want it too too soft. After its tender its time to get rid of the lye and clean your drains. I usually put the kettle in the sink and tilt the cooker a lil bit. Turn on the tap and let water run into the kettle till it over flows. The tilting will help you direct the over flow into the sink and not out on another surface. As you notice the water is a golden color when you add lye and are cooking the corn. Keep running water and stirring the corn around till the water is almost clear. At this point it is not likely the lye solution is strong enough to burn the skin but if you want to be absolutely sure you can turn off the tap and stir in about 1 pint of any kind of vinegar. This will neutralize any lye that is left in your corn but with the rinsing there wont be any vinegar taste either. Stir the corn well and if you have run cold water in the kettle it should be cool enough to be able to get your hands in there. Now the fun part. Stick your hands in the corn and gently squeeze hands full of the corn working all around the kettle. The goal is to remove the husk and dislodge the lil dark tips on each grain. But most of the husk part of the corn will have dissolved in the lye solution. The lil dark tips are perfectly fine to leave in there if you want. And trust me I never get all of them out of my hominy as you can see below. The lil tips are actually the heart of the corn and have nutrients too, so no problem, right?
 As you work thru the corn, pick up hands full and rub your hand together with the corn in there like you were trying to warm up the corn. Rinse the corn and put into another cooker. Keep working the corn and rinsing till all the corn is out of the first cooking water. Now cover your cleaned hominy with fresh water and put back on the fire and bring to a boil. From time to time check a grain or 3 by tasting it till it is quite tender, some what soft but not really soft as to go to mush. Remember it has to be processed in the pressure canner for at least an hour after this cooking. You will notice the water may not be totally clear with this cooking. If not drain and rinse and add more fresh water and heat it up again. The hominy should have been through at least 3 changes of water. This is adequate to get out all the lye and vinegar that is in there. Once the corn is pretty tender and the water has cleared its time to put the hominy in jars. I can mine in pints as that is how much I can eat at one time. You can do quarts if your family like hominy. Ladle or drain your corn out of the cooking water and into clean jars leaving about 2 good inches of head space. This allows for any expansion your corn will do in the jar and helps keep it all under water after its processed. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt to each pint and cover with fresh water. Put the lids on and hand tighten and put them in your prepared pressure canner.  Process at 10 lb pressure 60 minutes for pints and 70 minutes for quarts. Let pressure drop and remove from the canner. For each gallon of dried corn you use you should end up with about 20 pints of hominy. 

I started with about 2 gallon of dried corn and ended up with 41 pints canned and had enough to fix me a good bit for supper tonight. It is good stuff I don't care what anybody says. Now you might say, well it ain't all perty and white like the store bought stuff. Well you are right but see we didn't bleach all the good stuff outta the corn either with other chemicals. Now you can enjoy ya hominy.

I need a dam hobby!!! I do love canning though. The weather was nice and I got some things done that needed doing and it is relaxing for me. While I was letting the hominy cook in the summer kitchen I had to take a picture of my poor lil late cabbages that got snowed on. I had tole my friend Deb on the phone that it looked like they had took a leaf and tried to cover their lil heads. Don't ya agree with me?

But ya know the leaves don't look like they are froze either, even thought it snowed on them. The heads are not hard enough to harvest so I am gonna just leave em alone and see what they do. They would be fine to cut and chop for cooked cabbage but I don't think they would make slaw, or maybe they would. If we had had a normal December they would have make some nice heads before the weather got too bad but with snow starting for us on December 1 they didn't quite make it. But better luck next time.
While I was pressure canning my hominy I thought of my 6 gallon pail in the house that had wine in it. So I toted it to the summer kitchen to strain out the berries and put it back to settle for the second racking.
Talk about smellin good. A total of about 5 gallon of blackberry wine that is back in the tank to settle out. It will get racked a few more times before it is sweetened and bottled and left to age. Now if only I could find my recipe and instructions so far I would post them for ya. As soon as I locate all that I will put up a recipe for the wine.
Gosh it has been a long day for me. Not to mention my babysitter. My girl Luna is always with me where ever I wonder to here on the place. She makes me feel safer as she is always on guard. I think she was posing here.
Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.



Hope, Joy and Faith Farm said...

Once again, your hard work leaves me speechless! What a good feeling you must have whenever you look into your pantry... Who needs a hobby when you can create masterpieces in canning jars!

The Apple Pie Gal said...

WOW! You are flippin' amazing. See, this is why I call you "My Canning Queen".

I absolutely LOVE hominy. But I am not sure that didn't just scare the bajeepers out of me. That was one of the coolest posts ever! I kept thinking, ohmigosh ohmigosh!

I have seeds for corn picked out for meal and such. And I have a bag of dry hominy in the pantry. Good thing I read this first!

Gosh, if I were you...I'd be drinking that wine NOW!

You ROCK Stella!

Jen said...

What a great and productive day. Woulda loved to have spent the day wif ya to learn me sumthin'. Next year gonna be pickin' some grapes from the parks I work at n' make some wine. There is an over abundance of 'em. Have not identified em yet but me thinks they're wine making grapes because they taste different when eaten. Took mental notes of all the hidden lil spots they grew. PS..I luv lil ol' Luna. She's beautiful. ~ 'Jenny'

stella said...

hey yall, lol my work like hot only comes in flashes these days lol I dont work hard ever day. kinda like when i work i work hard, when i sit i sit hard lol I think I might get to clean my house tomorrow lol woo hoo!!!! ewwww is a nassy place