It boils down to hominy

October 27, 2003|BRENDA S. EDWARDS

LIBERTY - When Bill and Louise Coffman decided to make hominy, they called in the experts.

The experts are 92-year-old Millard Scott, who learned to make hominy from his parents and continued to make hominy until a few years ago, and his youngest and oldest daughters, Comella Hafley and Marie Buck.

The Coffmans have made hominy at their Steeles Knob home in Northern Casey County for the past three years and have decided to make it an annual outing on the second Saturday in October. It's not just cooking and washing the corn. It's a time for friends to gather and sample the vegetable dish that goes back to the Native Americans, who introduced maize to the pioneers.

While the corn boild in one black kettle, pinto beans cook in another one. At noon, the beans, hominy and other home-cooked food are served picnic-style under a shelter especially built for the hominy making.


The day begins at 6 a.m. Fires are built for three large kettles - one to cook hominy, another filled with hot water to rinse the corn, and a third for pinto beans.

Making hominy is simple, but cooking, washing, rinsing and cooking again is an all-day job.

To prepare, place 6 gallons of white hickory corn, a large cloth bag of hickory and oak ashes, and 1 1/2 boxes of soda into the kettle of hot water. Cook two hours or until the water starts to get thick and the husks (skin) begin to come off the corn. Take the hominy kettle to a clean tub, pour off the water and rinse in clean, cold water. Put the hominy in the kettle again, cook, then cool and rinse until the water stays clear. Make sure the hominy is soft, but still firm, before it is canned.

When the process is finished, fill glass jars with hominy. Put in pressure cooker. Get the pressure to 10 pounds, then cook 5 minutes. The batch makes about 15 gallons.

To prepare a skillet of hominy: Use bacon grease and salt to flavor, fry the hominy until the water has cooked out. Then eat.

Hafley learned how to make hominy from her parents at their homeplace on Ky. 1615.

"The younger generation don't make it anymore," she said, adding that she likes making hominy almost as much as she does eating it.

"We really enjoyed making it last year," she said.

"This is the most we've ever made at one time," Hafley said of the 12- to 15-gallon batch. They started with 6 gallons of dry white corn, but the corn kernels get larger as they cook.

Hafley said their reward for helping is a few jars of hominy.

"He (Coffman) is going to learn the trade (making hominy) and won't let us help," said Hafley.

"I doubt that," he said, as he sweated over the steaming kettle.

When people found out the Coffmans were in the hominy business, they wanted to buy it.

"Everybody wants to buy it, but I'd have to charge $10 a quart to cover for making it," said Coffman. However, he invites 25 to 30 friends to sample the finished product free of charge.

Bending over a large zinc tub to rinse the hominy for the last time, Hafley wonders aloud if the black eyes, or hearts of the corn, all will come out.

"Yes," said Coffman. The corn is washed until all the black spots come out freely.

"We've done washed it three times, this time it's your turn," Coffman said to Joy Tarter, who was elbow deep as she splashed the water and corn.

"Tell me when to stop, I don't know what to do next," Tarter replied.

"It doesn't need to cook anymore, it will get too soft, said Buck. "It will get too mushy."

"I like making hominy," said Scott, as he stirred the boiling water and corn. His job was to stir bean and hominy pots, and watch the fire.

"He couldn't wait to get here," said Hafley. "He made (wooden) paddles Friday to stir each pot."

Carroll Wethington and his wife also came to help.

"We enjoy it. It's something different," he said. "I never saw hominy made like this before." Wethington's wife and mother cooked hominy on a wood stove in the kitchen, a much smaller operation.

After making hominy in the rain twice, Coffman built a shelter especially for the hominy cook-off.

"We had folks coming by and no place to go when it rained." Now, the fires burn under the shelter on one end, and picnic tables are on the other end.

"We will can the hominy here this evening," said Louise Coffman. "We put lights out here. One night we were here until after 10 o'clock canning."

She remembers when the older people used lye to make hominy.

"Mommy used to use lye, but I'm afraid of it," Louise Coffman said.

She uses ashes and soda to take the hulls and black eyes out of the corn.

"It's a lot better than bought hominy," Louise Coffman said.

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