Oaxacan Wholegrain Corn Muffins

Reader Contribution by Valerie Boese
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Looking for something unique to grow in your garden? Next spring try this amazing heirloom, plant Oaxacan Green Dent Corn. Oaxacan is an easy corn to grow and will grow wherever you can grow sweet corn. It is a very old unique heirloom that was grown by the Zapotec Indians of southern Mexico. They used it to make green flour tamales and cornbread. Green dent was grown along with squash, chocolate, chilies and beans. The corn will grow about 7 feet tall and matures out in 75 to 100 days.

You can harvest it in the fall, after the husks have dried and turned yellow. Remove husks from the ears of the harvested corn and store ears in a dry place for a few weeks. I stored mine in a spare bedroom where it was cool and dry. Removing the corn kernels is called shelling the corn. It is time to shell the corn when the kernels can be flaked easily off the cob. When the corn is easy to shell, it is then dry enough to be ground into corn flour.

You can grind green dent corn with an electric coffee bean grinder and use the ground cornmeal any way you would use regular store-bought cornmeal. Grinding the kernels into cornmeal is pretty easy to do with an electric coffee bean grinder. It only took me about 10 minutes to grind up about 2 cups. It is simple: Add the corn kernels to your grinder, like you would add coffee beans, and grind them until they turn in to cornmeal.

Interestingly, as I picked the green dent corn last fall, many thoughts came to my mind. For my family, growing the green dent corn was just a fun little garden project, but what was it like for the Zapotec Indians? Would a poor harvest of Oaxacan corn have been detrimental to their livelihood? Where did they store it, in their temples? Did they have harvest celebrations, what did growing the corn really mean to the Zapotec people? How could it have lasted for so many years? It almost felt like a privilege to pick the green dent. It all kind of gave me goose bumps thinking about the history behind the green dent corn.

We are so fortunate that Oaxacan green dent corn has survived hundreds of years and was not lost by the test of time. Unlike other heirloom varieties that have been lost through hybridization that developed our modern-day hybrids or simply lost because no one wanted to plant them anymore. We are surely thankful for our modern-day hybrids, but how unique it is that Oaxacan green dent has not been lost, and we can still grow it today, just as it was grown hundreds of years ago by the Zapotec Indians.

Today, I husked my green dent corn, shelled it and ground it into corn flour. How exciting, making my first corn muffins from my own ground Oaxacan green dent corn. I made the corn flour into corn muffins, and they turned out absolutely delicious. The corn has a really good fresh ground corn taste. No, it is not GMO – “genetically modified organism” – or fed with chemicals to make it grow and keep pests away, it just grew by itself, as it has been growing for hundreds of years.

Try my recipe. By the way you can substitute cornmeal from your local grocery store and, maybe next spring, you will consider growing Oaxacan Green Dent Corn in your garden.

Scroll down for the recipe.

Oaxacan Wholegrain Corn Muffins

3/4 cup cornmeal – Oaxacan or substitute regular cornmeal from your grocer
1 cup white whole wheat flour or white flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk or substitute regular milk
1 large egg
2 tablespoons melted butter
4 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons molasses

Preheat oven to 425 F. Oil cupcake pan or muffin tin, or use cupcake liners for easy removal; set aside.

In large mixing bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, baking powder and salt.

In separate medium-sized bowl, combine buttermilk, egg, butter, honey and molasses.

Pour wet mixture into dry mixture bowl and mix well.

Pour mixture into prepared pan, dividing evenly to make 12 muffins.

Bake for 15 to 18 minutes until golden brown. Check for doneness with a small knife or toothpick; insert into muffin and when the knife or toothpick comes out clean with no batter sticking to it, they are done. Serve warm with butter and/or honey.

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