Appalachian Food

Parched Corn

dried corn

Parching corn was yet another way folks made use of the dried corn they had gathered from their fields to feed themselves and their animals through the winter months.

Granny and her Mother Gazzie and baby

The little girl in the photo is Granny standing by her Mother, Gazzie, who is holding Winston one of her grandchildren. Gazzie had 11 children (9 lived to adulthood). Granny is the 3rd youngest and was born in 1940. To say times were hard for a family that size I’m sure is an understatement.

All my ‘corn talking’ brought back parched corn memories for Granny, Pap, and even for me.

Granny told me a story I’d never heard. She said her mother Gazzie told her while she was pregnant with her, she practically lived on parched corn. She said Gazzie would parch the corn and then place it in a little white cloth, sit on the steps, crush it with a hammer, and eat it.

Pap with his father, Wade, and mother, Marie

Pap with his Mother and Father

My one memory about parched corn: Pap’s Mother, my Mamaw, kept me when I was little. Unfortunately she died when I was in 5th grade. Many of the memories I have of her center around her tiny kitchen where she’d cook me something to eat, usually grits because I loved them. I recall her standing at the stove. I asked her what she was cooking. She said “Parched corn you’d like it too if you’d try it.” I don’t remember trying it or anything else, just her standing at the stove saying the words.

How to get the chaff off of dried corn

A couple of days ago, Pap showed me how to parch corn. First I took the dried corn outside and shook it from bowl to bowl to get the chaff off.

parching corn

Next Pap melted some butter in a cast iron frying pan and added the corn. He kept stirring it around to make sure it didn’t burn, but browned evenly. You could hear it popping around and a few kernels even popped half way open like a kernel of popcorn sometimes will. After it had browned evenly Pap salted the corn.

Parched corn

You can see the finished product. It was pretty good, tasted like popcorn kernels to me. Some kernels were easy to chew and some where impossible. Pap said the corn they grew when he was a child made better parched corn than what we had to work with. I can see why folks would like it and even crave it. Think of a world where there were no potato chips, cheetos or cornchips. Parched corn would fill the slot for a salty crunchy snack.

In fact snacking on parched corn was what Pap remembered about it. He said families would sit around at night and parch corn over the fire and then eat it as a snack, kinda like we do popcorn. He also said folks would parch corn, dry it off good and carry it around in their pocket as snack on the go. He said it wasn’t unusual to be standing around talking and see someone pull out a little bag of parched corn to eat.

Tipper

 

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23 Comments

  • Reply
    Hockey Anne
    March 19, 2012 at 6:07 pm

    Thanks for the info – I was looking for a site for parching corn. My dad used to make it for us in the early 70’s he is gone now, and I have been trying to get some parching corn or learn to make it.
    Fun to read all the comments.

  • Reply
    Keith Prescott
    October 6, 2010 at 2:16 pm

    Tripper …
    I read a book called “The Adventures of Katty Woodlawn” when I was in the fifth grade. They (Katy and her brother) traded turkey sandwitches for parched corn with the Indian kids in school. I had no idea what “parched corn” was so I asked Dad. He taught me how to make it from dried sweet corn, but I now make it from decorative “Indian Corn”. Loved it as a kid — love it as an adult, and all of my kids, and grand-kids love it !!! Keep up the great blog !!!
    Grumpy Granpa

  • Reply
    BransonBob
    April 21, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    A “modern” snack I often enjoy is simply draining off a can of sweet corn and shaking it in seasoned flour, parching it in a little butter in the skillet, and adding a shake or two of garlic powder and salt. A good snack, naturally sweet and inexpensive, supurb when browned to perfection. Using the soft canned sweet corn keeps the old choppers from getting broke, too! It’s delicious! Most vegitables, like squash sliced thinner than normal, green beans and carrots, can be parched and made crunchy-tasty in this same “parched corn” fashion. And, try using sweet potato hash browns and other potato peeler shredded vegitables with the parching method. Again, it’s delicious!

  • Reply
    Susan Rentzell
    February 21, 2010 at 4:01 pm

    I remember my grandfather making parched corn when I was a child. I absolutely love it!!! The biggest challenge is drying the corn without it’s rotting first. You need a really warm, dry place. Old fashioned attics were great, but attics today aren’t like they were then. By the way, parched corn and corn nuts are different, similar, but different.

  • Reply
    warren
    December 1, 2009 at 2:39 pm

    Pretty cool! I have never seen or heard of parched corn…I would have to take my first bite with my eyes closed I think

  • Reply
    CheE
    December 1, 2009 at 11:55 am

    Wonder if this is where the idea for corn nuts came from, I love them because they are dried and crunchy? I would like to try this…I am in such amazement that I found you, thanks to Sam of course!

  • Reply
    Karen
    November 28, 2009 at 5:24 am

    I made parched corn last year from some dried silver queen sweet corn it puffed up very nicely and was very good. Same as “corn nuts” they sell in small bags but the store bought kind is even much bigger, I tried to find out what the name of the seed is for such large kernals but no luck. How many yummy taste treats are slowly fading from memories?

  • Reply
    Paul
    November 27, 2009 at 11:28 pm

    Another interesting post. Looks kinds like the corn nuts they sell these days. Definitely looks crunchy!

  • Reply
    annie
    November 27, 2009 at 7:46 am

    We called it snacking corn. My boys used to play at being Indians or pioneers in our woods and no expedition was complete without each having a small bag of snacking corn tied to their belts. Happy memories.

  • Reply
    Carolyn A.
    November 26, 2009 at 7:45 pm

    Never heard of nor tried parched corn. Would have been something I would liked to have tried. Can’t now, too many dental surgeries. Used to be able to crack jawbreakers way back when. 🙂 Thanks for sharing this wonderful tradition though. Love the pictures. xxoo

  • Reply
    thewelldigger
    November 26, 2009 at 5:26 pm

    CORN: Fried-baked-on the cob-corn bread-corn pudding-grits-popcorn-
    parched corn-animal feed-and,don’t
    forger—corn likker!!!! That’s what I would call”SOUTHERN MANNA”

  • Reply
    John Dilbeck
    November 26, 2009 at 4:37 pm

    Good afternoon, Tipper.
    I enjoyed the photos and reading about parched corn.
    I had completely forgotten how much Pop loved parched corn when we didn’t have any popcorn.
    He usually had some dried field corn stored away and loved parched corn on a cold winter night.
    It takes strong teeth to enjoy it!
    Thanks for the reminder.
    All the best,
    JD

  • Reply
    Holly Spencer
    November 26, 2009 at 8:34 am

    I have never heard of parched corn. I believe the closest I have gotten is to eat corn nuts out of the bag! Perhaps that is where they got the idea from.
    Happy Thanksgiving!

  • Reply
    Becky
    November 25, 2009 at 9:12 pm

    I’ve heard of, but never eaten parched corn. But I have eaten fried corn. It’s okay if you like “sticky”.
    Love the Grannyism page and the comments! Brings back memories for me.

  • Reply
    Glenda Beall
    November 25, 2009 at 9:03 pm

    Tipper, I’ve heard of parched corn but never had any. You are such a fount of knowledge about the old times. I wish my brother, Max, used a computer so he could read all your posts. You do have an excellent blog. I love to visit here.

  • Reply
    SandyCarlson
    November 25, 2009 at 8:53 pm

    It’s nice to learn about your family history as well as the local history. And to learn about parched corn.
    Happy Thanksgiving.

  • Reply
    My Carolina Kitchen
    November 25, 2009 at 8:25 pm

    Tipper, love your parched corn and family pictures. I’m not familiar with parched corn. There’s so much to learn with food, which makes it fun for me. Many good memories here; they make for a good life. Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.
    Sam

  • Reply
    Vicki Lane
    November 25, 2009 at 7:48 pm

    Very interesting post, Tipper — I’ve heard of parched corn but never had any — will have to try it.

  • Reply
    Fishing Guy
    November 25, 2009 at 7:19 pm

    Tipper: I would have to omit that I like the popcorn that is half popped. I think I would have enjoyed this as a treat.

  • Reply
    Mary Libby
    November 25, 2009 at 6:51 pm

    Hi Tipper,
    Yes I remember my Papa making parched corn many, many, years ago.
    I love your blog as it sure takes me down memory lane.
    Happy Thanksgiving to you and your love ones.
    Mary

  • Reply
    Tipper
    November 25, 2009 at 4:35 pm

    Miss Cindy-Pap remembers the bread. He said the ear of corn had to be just right-slightly dry-but not too dry. They grated the ear of corn into a bowl and mixed it with an egg-some lard/butter, and salt and either baked it or fried it. Pap says it was very good.
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Music, Giveaways, Mountain Folk
    All at http://www.blindpigandtheacorn.com

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    November 25, 2009 at 2:06 pm

    Tipper, I’ve never heard of parched corn nor eaten it. Looks like it would be mighty hard on your teeth.
    Ask Pap and Granny if they have ever heard of Gritter Bread.
    The Deer Hunter Papaw used to tell me about how good Gritter Bread was. I was not able to get enough information from him to make it, though I talked to him about it several times.
    He said the corn was grated from the cob and it was wonderful. He couldn’t tell me if it was dried or cooked but I’ve always hoped to find someone who knew about Gritter Bread.
    I’m happy to learn about Parched Corn but in all likely hood it’s one I’ll never try for fear of my teeth! LOL

  • Reply
    Terry
    November 25, 2009 at 12:10 pm

    Good morning Tipper.
    I love parched corn. I used to buy it in the store. It was called Crazy Corn. Thanks for the recipe, now I need to find some dried corn. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday.
    PS, Have I told you lately how much I enjoy your blog? Well I do, and thank you for taking time to make me smile everyday.
    Terry

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