This is blue corn we harvested at the end of the growing season in 2013. It came from 7 rows that were approximately 80 feet long. After desgrando el maiz, or shelling the corn, we poured it in front of a high powered fan to separate the grain from the tamo, or corn cob dust, and other cob particles and dirt. Using a high powered fan on the highest setting, we also separate the half formed or bug-eaten kernels from the heaviest, most robust kernels. The separation happened on a tarp so as to save all the corn pieces and half-formed kernels that then go into the chicken coop so that nothing goes to waste. Once the kernels are clean, we toast them on the stove to make sure they are completely dry and to impart some flavor. We were able to acquire over 22 pounds of shelled corn from our small milpa of approximately 560 row feet total. One of the best parts of working with blue corn is to get lost in all the colors of diversity. We could spend a thousand lifetimes developing different colors from the diversity found in one cob of blue corn. The cob above shows variations from purple to all kinds of blues to green! Desirable colors and kernels can be saved and grown separately to select cobs and kernels of the desirable colors in the future generations. Over several years, a relatively consistent strain of maize can be encouraged and developed through this intentional process of selecting desirable traits. Indeed we find maize to be one of the most diverse and beautiful crops exhibiting a multitude of forms and colors worldwide.
Once the corn is shelled it can be milled in a grinder on a fine setting to make flour. This flour can be used for all things that require flour, but we will be using it to mostly make atole, as seen below. Atole is a blue corn porridge, very traditional for breakfast in northern New Mexico. Before there was coffee, there was atole.
Atole is simply made by putting approximately one heaping tablespoon of blue corn flour to one cup of cold water. The atole flour is then mixed vigorously in the cold water and then brought to a boil. If you try to add atole flour to hot water, it will make lumps and not mix in very well. The atole will thicken a little bit with the boiling and then it can be removed from the heat and prepared according to taste. We have had atole with some or all of the following additions: milk, sugar, salt, and butter. Usually we use agave syrup or honey instead of sugar but everyone who likes atole has their own way of making it just right!