Appalachia Appalachian Food

How to make Gritted Bread from Fresh Corn

Growing field corn

A few years ago Pap taught me to make gritted bread. He remembered his mother making two types of gritted bread. One used fresh corn and one used dried corn. Today I’m going to share the fresh version with you.

Pap said if the corn was picked when it was still fresh and full it was allowed to dry out slightly. If the bread was made at the end of the season, corn which had began to dry on the stalk was used.

A grater, usually a homemade one was used to remove the corn from the cob. Pap made one from a tin can and we used it, but he said the ones they made when he was a boy were better because they were longer and more sturdy than the one we made.

Once the corn was mixed into a batter it was either baked or fried before eating. Pap said the fresh version was most often made at the end of the growing season when the corn began to harden but wasn’t completely dry.

How to make gritted bread

Pap’s Gritted Bread

  • 1 1/2 cup grated corn (if using really fresh corn allow some of the milk to drain out)
  • 2/3 cup plain flour (all purpose)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sodie (baking soda)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1 cup of sweet milk or buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons of bacon grease (optional-especially if using buttermilk)

Mix all ingredients together. Pap said the batter should resemble pancake batter. If needed additional flour or milk can be added to thicken or thin.

Cook in hot greased frying pan as you would pancakes or pour into hot well greased frying pan and bake at 450 degrees till done.

Gritted Bread

Pap said he should have fried it like potato cakes but since we were talking he forgot and poured the whole pan full. Once it browned on one side he cut down the middle and flipped both pieces so the other side could cook.

I thought the bread was fantastic! When we made the other version of gritted bread with dried corn I could only imagine eating it if I had to. The fresh corn version is very good.

Pap liked to eat his with a smear of honey.


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  • Reply
    Marceda Burger
    August 25, 2021 at 9:02 am

    My grandma would bake a lot of pones of gritted cornbread in the fall. He would use a white dent corn. I helped him make the gritter out of tin and wood. I still have his gritter. I helped him make it 60 years ago. It was the best cornbread ever. The corn kernels were almost dry. It was hard work to grit corn.

  • Reply
    Joycelyn May
    August 12, 2021 at 7:35 pm

    Tipper, I’m a city girl. So, I have to ask, do you need to keep the fresh corn refrigerated while it’s drying out? I love any kinds of breads, so look forward to trying this. Thanks for your work.

    • Reply
      August 13, 2021 at 6:38 am

      Joycelyn-I leave it out of the frig. I lay mine in the floor in a cool part of the kitchen. I hope you like the bread!

  • Reply
    Auther Ray
    November 22, 2019 at 3:25 pm

    The home made gritters were called Poor – do boards and were made from a peace of tin with nail holes driven through to make a gritter surface. The rough meal was called Poor – Do. The bread was called corn Flitters if cooked like a pancake with sorghum. My Grandpa ask me if I knew what Poor – Do was ? I told him I didn’t know, then he said “Poor – Do is what you made when you were to poor to do anything else”. It only cost a dime to take a sack of corn to the mill and have it ground, but they didn’t have the dime, so they made Poor – Do.

  • Reply
    Beverly Bailey
    September 17, 2018 at 5:52 pm

    My family just gritted it…put in some salt and fried in thinish (don’t know maybe 1/2 or 3/4″ thick skillet sized ‘pancakes” in hot oil. Then put butter on it (lots) and I smashed mine up/Dad didn’t. Some of the best eatin ever! We’d be waiting with our plates taking turns as they came out of the skillet…with a big glass of cold sweet milk! Still make it when family can grow or find the right corn. YUM!

  • Reply
    November 7, 2016 at 11:51 am

    Daddy would make this when i was little. It was a treat for us! We always called it Roastnear Bread. He would make his own grater.. nailing the metal on wood. A big tin can worked great. He would use a hammer & a nail to make the marks. I loved daddy’s roastnear bread. It was cooked in a cast iron skillet in oven just like a cake of cornbread. cut it open and add some butter while its steaming hot. Eat it just like that! I have made it but it will never be like his 🙂
    Field corn was used then.. I don’t think its as good with the sweet corn.
    Thank you for taking me back to such happy times..precious memories!

    • Reply
      September 16, 2018 at 10:54 am

      You need an old heirloom corn just beginning to form dents. Something like Tennessee Red Cobb, Neals Paymaster, Hickory Cane, or for a yellow corn try Pencil Cob. I am sure other heirlooms would fine. I never tried any colored corn but maybe Bloody Butcher or McCormics Blue Giant would be good they are good cornbread corns.

  • Reply
    jane childers
    September 20, 2016 at 11:30 pm

    That picture of your pap going through the cornfield took me back to the days when my mama and Daddy grew corn. Remember going through the cornfield and brushing up against the corn blades. We used to play hide and seek in the corn. Say, have you ever smoked rabbit tobacco? It used to grow all over the place in Ala but I never see it anymore. Did you ever make a doll cradle or a little basket out of a maypop? I had a maypop vine growing on my back porch this summer. I didn’t remember how good the blooms smell. I don’t remember catepillars eating the leaves up either. Mine got covered. I could hardly stand to go by it but I learned that it is the only food for a certain butterfly so I let them stay. Thankfully they are all gone now. I found one cocoon and later it was empty laying on the porch. There were a lot of butterflies around this year.

  • Reply
    Sally Hastings
    September 20, 2016 at 5:37 am

    We’ve had a good year for corn by our standards, got a couple of them left on the stalks I’ll give this recipe a try, thank you Tipper.

  • Reply
    Dean Mullis
    September 19, 2016 at 11:59 pm

    Tipper, I am going to have to try this. I planted some Snowbird Mtn. corn I got from Natahala Farm this year. The stalks still have a little green in them so I will see how it goes.
    On a side note, our son and his church youth group did some misson work up in Hayesville this summer and on the last night at the Hinton Center, they got to hear a duo called the Pressley Girls. We were in the car and my son was raving about well they played and Jenifer just threw out that I know their mamma… His head snapped up from staring at his phone and said “whaaaaat???” It is hard to be “cool” in the eyes of a teenager but just the fact that I read the blog of the Pressley Girls mother added a tiny bit of “wow” factor.
    Take care,
    Dean Mullis
    Laughing Owl Farm

  • Reply
    Rev. RB
    September 19, 2016 at 11:32 pm

    I believe I’ve heard of this before in one of your blogs. It reminds me a bit of the corn cakes we make from time to time, generally preferring them to regular pancakes. Yum!!!
    After about a week, we finally got some rain – a full 1-1/3″ of it. Praise God!!!
    Prayers everyone has a GREAT week, and a SAFE one too.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    September 19, 2016 at 6:45 pm

    Hi Tipper.Been eating them all my 76 years.We called them corn pattys.The recipe is about the same except I drain a can of corn and add chopped onion.Great with a little bacon grease on top and a little salt and pepper. God Bless.Jean

  • Reply
    September 19, 2016 at 2:11 pm

    Pap sure knowed what tasted good. I’m more partial to the gritted bread you show, but I like mine fixed like tater biscuits. And when I fix cream style corn by itself, I like to brown the bottom that sticks to my cast iron pans. Some folks call it “scorched” just a little bit. Daddy just clipped the tops off with his pocket knife when he made gritted bread, and it looked just like a cake of cornbread. …Ken

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    September 19, 2016 at 1:22 pm

    My folks sometimes made gritted corn flapjacks from sweet corn that had gone by and from field corn that was beginning to dry (roastnear stage). I don’t remember how it tasted.
    Roastnears had a popcorn taste but were chewy. They were roasted in the oven ’til they just started to char on the ends. Man that was good. Just plain. No salt, no nothing.
    My Aunt Muriel made what she called sawmill gravy using cornmeal when she didn’t have enough flour. It tasted like regular gravy but had a texture like it had sand in it. Uncle Wayne said that the reason they called it sawmill gravy is because they used to put sawdust in it when they didn’t even have cornmeal.
    Aunt Muriel had a stove I had never seen before nor since. It would burn wood or coal and had 4 eyes for that. It also had 4 electric eyes. The oven could use the heat from the fire or could be heated by an element when there was no fire.
    PS: The roastnears weren’t roasted in the shuck like people do nowdays. They were shucked and trimmed and put on a sheet pan. They had to be rolled over every few minutes to keep them from burning. I guess the baking caramelized the sugar in the corn. You could eat it like corn on the cob or pull off the individual kernels and eat them like little candies.

  • Reply
    September 19, 2016 at 12:08 pm

    The ingenuity of Appalachian folks is always so interesting. Nothing wastes, and they have figured out so many delicious ways to prepare food. I still fry bread occasionally in a small cast iron pan, but have never heard of gritted bread. I bet it sure would be good with those collards I cooked. Many times I have let corn get a little too dry to boil, and this recipe would have been a great one. Usually I just had to let it finish drying and save for seed or feed wildlife. Sounds delicious!

  • Reply
    Sue Crane
    September 19, 2016 at 11:26 am

    Sounds good! But, then I haven’t met a bread I didn’t like!

  • Reply
    Paula Rhodarmer
    September 19, 2016 at 11:21 am

    Tipper, I do love gritted bread with corn that is just getting hard. I also love your picture of Pap going in to the corn patch. We called my father “Pap” also and every time I see that word my mind goes quickly to the gentle good man that I loved with all my heart. I miss him so much, but I look forward to seeing him again.

  • Reply
    Sallie swor
    September 19, 2016 at 10:13 am

    I’ve never had it but learned what the gritters were that were homemade by curving a piece of tin over a board and nailing along the edges. I have seen these gritters in local museums and antique stores. It was my understanding they were used to make bread when the corn was partially dried on the cob. I might have to try your recipe.

  • Reply
    September 19, 2016 at 10:10 am

    I never heard the term “gritted bread”. Mama made fresh cornbread much the same way but she just called it fried cornbread. She was raised in south Georgia though, so maybe it’s just local terminology. Her cornbread was really good and a favorite of everyone. I’ve tried and tried but mine never tastes quite as good!

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    September 19, 2016 at 9:59 am

    Yes, but have only eaten the fresh fried gritted bread. My Dad also made it only after he had a few ears of dryer tough corn, usually that we had purchased to put in the freezer. Our small garden back then didn’t allow to grow that much corn. He always said he never liked dry gritted bread, corn that his Mom would use, sometimes straight from the crib. He especially love gritted bread with fried streak meat. My Dad kept a big piece in the refrigerator all the time. We seasoned with it, but when times were tight he would fry up streak meat. It was cheap .29 cents back then at the most. Of course that would insure us kids would eat our beans, fried cornbread and taters. We weren’t fond of the meat.
    I can just see him now; drinking a blown sip of “saucered” coffee, then a bite of streak meat, followed by a big bite of fried cornbread drug thru sorghum or honey!
    Just thinking he would have been 105 Dec. 6th. He still had a long life even eating fried cornbread and fatty streak meat!
    I found a vintage homemade “gritter” one time. I walked around the counter to look at one other thing, walked back to pick it up and it was already gone. “You snooze, you lose!”
    Thanks Tipper,
    Thanks for the memories and your “Pap’s recipe, I’m keeping this one, for I didn’t remember what my Dad put in his batter of fried gritted bread.
    Haven’t thought of gritted bread or that lost gritter in a while!
    I do make plain fried cornbread sometimes. Sometimes, it’s quicker just for two folks!

  • Reply
    Ann Applegarth
    September 19, 2016 at 9:39 am

    Nope, never. But corn fritters or even corn dodgers with some fresh corn in them are delicious, so I bet the gritted bread is, too. I have a grater exactly like Granny’s!

  • Reply
    Lonnie Baker
    September 19, 2016 at 9:00 am

    Corn pone, hoe cakes, Johnny cakes, corn fritters, corn flitters, grit cakes, corn cakes, corn dodgers, corn bread, spoon bread and Indian bread. We make a lot of bread with corn and from corn here in the south and I love em all.

  • Reply
    September 19, 2016 at 8:35 am

    Corn tastes great but when eaten in the whole kernel version has little or no nutritional value. It passes through the body and exits in the same form. Just like raisins for a baby – they look the same coming out as they did going in.

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    September 19, 2016 at 8:26 am

    I have never had nor heard of gritted bread but it looks good. I might have to give that one a try. I remember my mother making cornmeal mush when I was very young. I think she made it for my grandfather who lived with us because he liked it. He said that was something you ate when you didn’t have anything else.

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    September 19, 2016 at 8:12 am

    Here are a couple of photos of a corn gritter found at the home place of Ernest and Elizabeth Rose Hall place on Cable Branch of Hazel Creek.
    It looked to me like it was made from some galvanized sheet roofing with a bunch of nail piercings, more or less in rows.
    Making do with what was available – a fundamental characteristic of our forebears.

    • Reply
      Auther Ray
      February 5, 2020 at 6:46 pm

      It was nailed to about a 1inch x 10/12 inch board about 2 ft. long so you could set one end in a pan to catch the grit.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    September 19, 2016 at 8:01 am

    I had gritted bread once. As you say, the fresh kind is very good. I would like to have some again. It is very different from cornbread. Our Grandma told us about it.
    My brother and I made our Grandma a gritter. We made a wooden box and tacked a piece of perforated tin over the top. It probably wasn’t a very good one and I don’t think it was ever used.

  • Reply
    Keith Jones
    September 19, 2016 at 7:58 am

    Haven’t eaten this but it sounds like a good use for corn that is just past eating stage.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    September 19, 2016 at 6:53 am

    I’ve heard of it but never made it. The Deer Hunter’s granddaddy talked about Gritter Bread. I was never able to get sufficient directions from him to make it. I’m guessing the Gritter Bread was the in-between bread. The corn meal form the previous year being gone and the new corn crop not yet dried enough to take to the mill fir grinding.
    The bread in the picture looks very tasty with a little crust on it. It’s another one of the old ways almost gone.
    Thanks for sharing this and for the pictured!

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