Last week Ted Skenandore came to Austin for a visit and brought me a bundle of dehydrated Oneida White Corn that he grew at the Tsyuhehkwa Farm on the Oneida reservation in northeast Wisconsin. Ted and I used to work together at Tsyuhehkwa running the farm and community agriculture program before I moved to Austin.
Ted shows off the Oneida White Corn and the Dehydrated Corn
The Oneidas brought this variety of white corn with them when they resettled in Wisconsin after leaving New York State in the 1820s. It is the same variety of corn that they took to Valley Forge to feed Washington’s starving troops during the American Revolutionary War. Washington paid them back after the war by sending General Sullivan to burn their crops and girdle their apple orchards.
Oneida White Corn does not lend well to machine harvesting or shelling. While planted with a tractor, all of the fields are still hand-picked, hand-husked and hand-shelled. Traditionally, this corn is cooked with hard wood ash in order to remove the hull. Baking soda may also be used. This process is similar to the way that tortilla corn is prepared in Mexico by using lime. Besides removing the hull, cooking with wood ash makes niacin and other nutrients in the corn available to the body.
The dehydrated corn in the bag has already been cooked with either wood ash or another alkaline substance.
After being boiled for about 20 minutes with the wood ash (until the white corn turns a bright yellow), the corn is sifted through a strainer to remove the hull, then the corn is boiled for several more hours. Luckily for me, the Tsyuhehkwa program also has a community cannery that pre-cooks the corn and then dehydrates it, making it much easier for the home cook to enjoy this wonderful soup.
The Oneida Cannery also offers canned corn soup cooked with either salt pork or smoked turkey. The soup is also often made with venison. My version contains no meat and is not traditional.
Soak one package of dehydrated corn soup in water over night
Saute one chopped onion and some garlic
Add the corn and enough water to cover.
Add vegetable broth.
Add cumin and oregano to taste.
Simmer for one hour.
Add cooked beans (kidney, pinto, or whatever you grew in your garden last year, I used Jacob’s Cattle beans in my latest batch.)
Simmer for one more hour.
If you are interested in purchasing raw or dehydrated Oneida White Corn contact the Tsyuhehkwa Retail Center