Appalachian Food

How to Make Gritted Bread from Dried corn

How to make Gritted Bread
Two weeks ago I showed you how Pap taught me to make gritted bread from fresh corn and last week I showed you how Pap taught me to parch corn. Today I’m going to show you how Pap taught me to make gritted bread from parched corn.

As you can imagine parched corn would be hard to eat if you had bad teeth or were lacking a few. Pap said folks would grind or pound parched corn into a very coarse cornmeal and make gritted bread or cornmeal mush with it.

How to make cornmeal at home

Since we didn’t have a grinder Pap told me to put some of the corn we parched in an old flour sack and beat it with a hammer. I’m telling you beating that parched corn was hard work. Even after repeated hammering the cornmeal was still very coarse.

Making bread out of coarse ground cornmeal

On the day Pap was showing me how to make gritted bread from parched corn, 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. He heated the pan on the stove and then after the batter was poured in it we baked it in a hot oven.

Old timey bread recipes

Did I like it? Not really. It tasted a little like hominy which I do 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 it might take awhile.

As I knelt outside in the cold, pounding the corn with dark coming on fast the old 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 took so much time for folks to make sure they had enough food, water, and wood that they didn’t have time to be mean.”

Granny said “Yes you’re right, that is true, that is the way it was. It took all our time to keep food on the table, water in the buckets, and wood in the stoves. And it makes me wonder if the ease at which we live life today is for the better.” Granny may have a point.


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  • Reply
    October 4, 2016 at 2:34 pm

    Ed-thank you for the comments! You know I think a real spider pan does have legs-but Paps didn’t : ) I guess he just called it that even though it wasn’t a real one LOL : )

  • Reply
    October 4, 2016 at 11:10 am

    Marshall-thank you for the comment! Sorry for the glitch try opening this link:

  • Reply
    October 3, 2016 at 7:08 pm

    I have eaten parched corn but not gritted bread made out of it. the article you done on gritted bread with fresh corn would not open for me.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    October 3, 2016 at 6:44 pm

    I thought spiders had legs. Like a real Dutch oven does. Does Pap’s have legs? I can’t see in the picture?
    I think I see why you didn’t like the parched cornbread. The buttermilk says “Whole Milk!” The butter is still in it. I’ll bet you a nickel the buttermilk Pap remembered from his youth was hand churned, the butter was in the spring house and the buttermilk was non-fat.

  • Reply
    October 3, 2016 at 4:51 pm

    Tamela-thank you for the comments! I know the Native Americans used hand held grinding stones in this area and Im betting other folks did too. Maybe someone with more information will chime in with more details. 

  • Reply
    October 3, 2016 at 1:51 pm

    While Donna Lynn was playing a song by Ray and Pap, I called and requested a song by Chitter and Chatter. Paul joined in “Rock of Ages” and I just love the way they do it. She also played The Original Chuch Wagon Gang that me and Harold use to sing in Churches all over the place: “As I travel thru the Pilgrim Land.” …Ken

  • Reply
    October 3, 2016 at 1:19 pm

    I’m going to have Silver Queen Cream Style Corn and throw away (canned biscuits) after while. The corn is last year’s but it’s still good just like it came from the field fresh.
    My Aunt Toots (daddy’s youngest sister) use to send me half of her Gritted Bread. I really never cared much for it, but I figured it’d clean out my intestines real good. She was always fixin’ homeade pies and sharing them with me. I always thought she liked me better than my five brothers, but it might be that I lived closer than the others. Anyway, we talked about every day, and her husband came by shop alot. They’ve both gone on now but I think of them often…Ken

  • Reply
    Sallie Swor
    October 3, 2016 at 1:10 pm

    There were querns used in some places, a hand-mill using two heavy grindstones. Corn was placed in the hole in the center of the top stone. The end of a stick which fit into a small indention in the top
    stone was held with downward pressure and turned by hand. There is one at the TN Agricultural Museum in Nashville used by visitors. I suppose hunger supplied the power.

  • Reply
    October 3, 2016 at 11:05 am

    I’m guessing that if you had a metate and mano or mortar and pestle you could grind the corn finer after pounding. Did you ever hear of anyone in Appalachia using some kind of hand grinding stones?

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    October 3, 2016 at 10:56 am

    I believe that hammered corn would be better fitted for mush! Mother said she got so tired of eating mush when she was a child. We never ate mush as a child, and when we griped about having to eat another bowl of oatmeal, cream of wheat, barley etc. She would say, “What if you had to eat mush every single day for breakfast and sometimes lunch!”
    We really loved Oatmeal if we had cinnamon toast too! Not every time Mom had time to fix us cinnamon toast.
    One day a few years later, I was visiting Mom and she was carrying a bowl around. I asked what it was I the bowl, “Oatmeal”? She said, “Nope, I got to thinking about that mush my mother made us when we were kids and I just had to make me some, so I could remember what it tastes like! She went on to say hers was a lot better than the course cornmeal mush she ate as a child! Every once in a while after that when I went over to help her out I found signs she had been making Mush!
    Thanks for the memories, Tipper

  • Reply
    October 3, 2016 at 10:22 am

    Love cornbread, but not certain I would like that– bacon grease and salt can make almost any dish tasty. Back in the day folks had to learn to make do with what they had. While many families were able to take their corn to be ground, some were not. One lady told me the story of her little hands grinding corn with a small grinder for their cornbread each day. I have difficulty finding good cornmeal, and may have to try other measures.
    One of my earliest memories was a gadget to make juice from oranges. There was one in most households. With no fear of additives, the food juice was tasty and wholesome.
    I once told my Dad I was bored. He, of course, had to explain to me that children in other countries were not bored because they were too busy trying to survive. I never forgot many of the lessons taught.

  • Reply
    October 3, 2016 at 9:01 am

    Tipper, I’ve often had similar thoughts about the amount of time and labor that went into day to day staying alive. Less time and less energy for getting into trouble, more time for being grateful for every little thing that helps keep body and soul together.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    October 3, 2016 at 8:30 am

    I expect one of the lessons from parched corn cornbread is that things were lean from time to time and there were hard times measures. When times get tough enough, taste becomes a luxury. The meal probably made a good base for a soup or stew if there was anything else to go in it.
    Crushing the corn with a hammer reminds me of the not-uncommon Pounding Mill Creeks in the mountains. Pounding mills were basically a mortar and pestle with water used to weigh down one end of a beam to raise the pestle (?) for each falli nto the mortar. They were small quantity and slow but did not need much volume of water and were of simple construction.
    I admit though that Ihad never heard of cornbread made from parched corn. I realize my own life has been far removed from pioneer times, even though there were parts of the county without electricity when I was a boy.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    October 3, 2016 at 6:44 am

    Tip it doesn’t look very savory either but if it was all I had to eat I bet I’d dive in and eat it all. Now if you could put that hammered corn in a food processor and ran it to the consistency of current day corn meal, then make the cornbread….well I bet it would be fine and it would have a fine roasted corn flavor.
    My mother had one of those spider skillets. We used it to make pancakes. My folks called it a spider pan but I’ve never heard anyone else call it that.

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