Appalachia Appalachian Food Heritage

Gritted Bread

How to make Gritted Bread

After Pap showed me how to parch corn-he told me about gritted bread. Pap recalls 2 types of bread being called gritted bread. The first was made by using fresh corn that had been allowed to dry slightly overnight or a little longer. A grater-usually homemade-was used to remove the corn from the cob. After mixing sodie (baking soda), salt, buttermilk, and an egg or 2 with the corn it was fried or baked and eaten as bread.

The other gritted bread Pap remembers was made from parched corn. As you can imagine parched corn was hard to eat if you had bad teeth or were lacking a few. Folks would grind or pound the parched corn into a very coarse cornmeal and make bread with it.

Since we don’t have a grinder-I put some of the corn we parched in an old flour sack and took a hammer to it. Let’s just say I got my work out. You can see from the photo-even after repeated hammering-the cornmeal was still very coarse.

How to make gritted bread

I ran out of daylight and ended up with barely enough meal to make a cake of bread-but Pap mixed it up for me anyway. He added buttermilk, salt, sodie, an egg, and a little oil to make a batter.

Cast iron spider pan

Since we ended up with such a small amount, Pap decided to use his cast iron spider pan. As it turned out we had more than we thought and were afraid the batter would run out of the pan-so we stuck it in the oven to finish cooking.

Gritted Bread

About 10 minutes later we were eating gritted bread. Did I like it? Not really. It tasted a little like hominy which I like-but I just couldn’t get over the texture of it. I suppose if you ate it all the time you’d become accustomed to the taste and texture-but for now I’m sticking with cornbread.

As I knelt outside in the cold, pounding the corn with dark coming on fast, the saying “idle hands are the devil’s workshop” came to mind. When I went back in the warm house, I told Granny, “I can see why there wasn’t as much meaness going on when you and Pap were children-it would have taken so much time for folks to make sure they had enough food, water, and wood that they wouldn’t have had time to be mean.” Granny said “Yes that is true, that is the way it was. And it makes me wonder if the ease at which we live life today is for the better.” Granny may have a point.

Ever heard of gritted bread?

Tipper

 

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28 Comments

  • Reply
    Katy Darlington
    September 17, 2017 at 12:58 pm

    My father (from Harlan, Kentucky) used to make the world’s best gritted bread. Sadly, I never got a chance to write down his recipe, but my brother made up what he believes to be the closest. Dad would take a sheet of tin (I guess) and punch holes using a hammer and nail. He would then grate the corn on that sheet. The corn had to be at just the right stage of wet and dry, or it wouldn’t be good. Since we’re coming to the end of the growing season, I guess now would be a good time to go find some not-too-dry and not-too-wet corn.

  • Reply
    Carol Ice-Foote
    April 9, 2017 at 7:07 pm

    Hello, I am a Civil War Medical Reenactor with a family history that goes back 8 generations on one side of the family an further back on the other side as they met the boats that came here. A corn gritter was basically a shallow tin can that had holes made with a hammer and nail-the closer the holes, the finer the flour . This served a a way to “grind ” the corn when a mill was not possible to get to for grinding. A lady I had met years ago told me that it was her job in the fall to sit in front of the fireplace and slowly turn the ears of corn to parch them. This was done to kill any “bugs” that were living in the corn. It was then gritted while on the cob as it was easier to hold. It could then be stored for a longer period of time in containers. Her mother was known for the BEST TASTIN’ cornbread in the area! The parching /toasting of the corn brought out the flavor of the corn.

  • Reply
    Marion
    February 6, 2010 at 6:33 am

    Hey Tipper, Your story brought back memories.
    I was born in 1946, my mom’s family is Cherokee from the Appalachians. I remember helping my mom and Granny grit corn on the front porch. We had cornbread with every meal,except for breakfast, then my mom would whip up a mess of biscuits. I would help Granny churn our butter, and couldn’t wait until I could pour myself a bowl of buttermilk and crumble cornbread it. It was delicious then and is still delicious. I have it for my evening meal sometimes and sometimes for a snack. Mom, Granny and I would would enjoy it in the evenings as a bedtime snack.

  • Reply
    Lanny
    December 12, 2009 at 11:17 am

    I love the conversation here between you and Granny. Not enough for people to do. It is true. Dirt has said that all the time over the years when we are watching the news about people getting in trouble. Not enough to keep them busy and not thinking of themselves.

  • Reply
    warren
    December 8, 2009 at 9:05 am

    Never heard of that but it looks so cool! Sometimes my regular bread doesn’t rise and it sort of looks like that…hmmm…not quite the same thing!

  • Reply
    CheE
    December 7, 2009 at 6:46 am

    Hmmm, so no amount of butter would help that taste better? 🙂 Maybe some raw honey? I can see my mamaw now breaking it up in buttermilk! Ha, something I still will not even put into my mouth, they all said I was adopted he he Oh and do not get me started about cottage cheese and peaches…

  • Reply
    Janet
    December 5, 2009 at 10:22 am

    I’ve never heard of gritted bread, either. The kindergarten teacher at my kid’s school once told me that a bored child was one that got into trouble. She always tried to see to it that they weren’t bored.:)

  • Reply
    Carolyn A.
    December 4, 2009 at 8:07 pm

    Never had gritted bread before but I like food that fights back when you eat it, so I’d probably enjoy it. It looks good baked that nice brown color too. xxoo

  • Reply
    Fishing Guy
    December 3, 2009 at 10:23 am

    Tipper: The name even sounds like it wouldn’t be that good. Fun times were had in the prep.

  • Reply
    teresa atkinson
    December 3, 2009 at 10:15 am

    I understand the texture thing, it even looks coarse. But one type of bread that I love and wish I knew how to make is what Granny Moore called “setpone” It was a slightly sweet mixed bread that was somewhere between biscuit, hoecake, and cornbread. We ate it buttered with sorghum syrup(still my favorite)and cantaloupe for breakfast.
    Merry Christmas my friend.

  • Reply
    Mary
    December 3, 2009 at 8:18 am

    This is the first that I have heard of gritted bread. In a pinch, back in the old days, I would imagine it might have been something to add to the menu.
    Interesting!

  • Reply
    Becky
    December 2, 2009 at 4:23 pm

    No, I’ve never heard of gritted bread. But I’m with you, I think I’d like cornbread better myself. Back then, the choices were few and you ate what you had available to eat.

  • Reply
    John Dilbeck
    December 2, 2009 at 3:25 pm

    Good afternoon, Tipper.
    I’ve never heard of gritted bread made from parched corn.
    I have eaten what was called “grated bread” made from sweet corn. I’ve also been told that it can be made from canned creamed corn.
    Grate the sweet corn, just like you’re making creamed corn, but then add the other ingredients like you’re making cornbread. I’m sorry that I don’t have the recipe.
    Grated bread tasted just like a slice of creamed corn, to me, and I loved it. Hot out of the oven with butter on a cold day – it was a treat to be remembered.
    A friend, Mary Chiltoskey over in Cherokee, NC, made some for me back in the mid-1970s and I loved it, even more than corn bread.
    I’m not sure I would like gritted bread made from parched corn, though, but I’ve never tried it.
    All the best,
    JD

  • Reply
    Tipper
    December 2, 2009 at 2:17 pm

    Kathleen-using a hand grinder would work much better than a hammer-and I’m sure the bread would have a more even texture too.
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Music, Giveaways, Mountain Folk
    All at http://www.blindpigandtheacorn.com

  • Reply
    Annie
    December 2, 2009 at 1:53 pm

    I have made the first type of gritted bread with fresh corn but the second does sound hard to chew, although I do like somewhat coarser ground cornmeal than that powdery stuff from the store. By the way, tried Granny’s recipe for hominy – it worked great. Also, my grandsons tell me your pumpkin roll was good too – they didn’t leave any so I can’t give a first hand critique.

  • Reply
    Kathleen
    December 2, 2009 at 1:13 pm

    I have never heard of gritted bread! I was just wondering if one might could use a hand grinder? Would it taste better or would it turn out mushy?? Thanks for sharing the recipe. blessings,Kathleen

  • Reply
    Tipper
    December 2, 2009 at 12:43 pm

    Mary-There were mills around to grind corn for folks-Im thinking the gritted bread was just a way to add variety to a menu that consisted mostly of corn.
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Music, Giveaways, Mountain Folk
    All at http://www.blindpigandtheacorn.com

  • Reply
    Rick
    December 2, 2009 at 12:29 pm

    That looks real good. I bet it tastes great with a cold glass of milk or even a hot cup of coffee.

  • Reply
    judi
    December 2, 2009 at 11:20 am

    It’s new to me. I’m with you I’d stick to cornmeal. I like the course grind meal though for cooking grits.. when ya want ta git fancy you can call it pollenta like an Italian.:)

  • Reply
    Vicki Lane
    December 2, 2009 at 10:40 am

    I’ve heard of it — the kind made from roasting ears that weren’t quite totally dry yet. Never tasted it but the feller who described it to me swore it was wonderful.Of course, they had homemade butter to help it down and that would make a difference.

  • Reply
    Randy
    December 2, 2009 at 9:51 am

    Hi Tipper
    I have never had any “gritted bread”, it has always been just plain old cornbread for me. What I really wanted to say was how proud I am of your nephew(Ben) with his acceptance to Yale. Every time I here good things about my former “Creek” kids I feel like a proud father. This has got to be some of the best news I have ever heard.

  • Reply
    olecrowsnestnan
    December 2, 2009 at 9:33 am

    Never heard of gritted bread but enjoyed learning about it! I agree with your Granny about meaness and idle hands. I guess we have to work harder to build positive character in these days and ages.
    I also wanted to say that I really enjoy your posts and find myself taken to a time and place that I was only slightly aware of. Have a great day!

  • Reply
    Mary
    December 2, 2009 at 9:24 am

    I’ve never heard of gritted bread, Tipper. The first recipe sounds a lot like the corn cakes I make with fresh or canned corn, except I don’t dry it at all. But I’ve never heard anything like the second. I can imagine that the texture is really hard to chew!
    Is this the bread they usually ate, or was there a mill close enough to grind the corn? I’m figuring that’s why I’ve never heard of it–there were two grain mills in our area, though I’m sure some couldn’t afford to take their corn there for grinding.
    Thanks for showing this!

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    December 2, 2009 at 8:57 am

    Tipper, unbolted corn meal makes a very coarse cake of cornbread also. It is a little coarser than I like. You know all those adds on TV for fiber, well……….this is the ultimate fiber!!
    Yes, life has come a long way from what it used to be. I know that we cannot go back to those times and I really wouldn’t want to, they were hard. I guess the goal is to live in the time we are in but retain some of the “grit” and “substance” of the past. Pun intended!

  • Reply
    Granny Sue
    December 2, 2009 at 8:51 am

    I have not heard of that, but I expect it was yet another method of making-do with what was on hand. Flour was a rare commodity for many people in the mountains and if you couldn;t get your corn to the mill or couldn’t afford to have it milled, this sounds like an alternative. I think the addition a little flour and honey would improve the flavor!

  • Reply
    mary
    December 2, 2009 at 8:14 am

    No, I haven’t heard of gritted bread until now. I do appreciate the theory that we have too much time on our hands.

  • Reply
    My Carolina Kitchen
    December 2, 2009 at 7:39 am

    Tipper, I’ve never heard of gritted bread, but I do love, love, love grits. I think I’ll stick with cornbread also based on your comment about texture.
    I saw your comment on Chef E’s blog. So glad you two have gotten together. She’s a great gal and I knew the two of you would hit it off.
    Sam

  • Reply
    Jan
    December 2, 2009 at 6:43 am

    Loved this post Tipper and yes, I have eaten gritted bread and my opinion is the same as yours! Hope you and your family are doing well.

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