This variety is "boarded on" the US Slow Food Ark of Taste, which identifies and promotes exceptional, traditional foods that are at risk for extinction. Numerous varieties of Indian corn -- vital to particularly tribes' spiritual and food ways -- are close to or already have fallen below sustainable numbers of seeds. The only way to keep these varieties -- high in nutrition and tradition -- going is to grow and eat them. And then save and replant the seed.
I had originally planned to grow this corn in the Thoreau Farm's kitchen garden, but I mixed up the seedlings (which were well-marked, but not correctly read by me until after they had been transplanted). Given Thoreau's concerns about native American rights, I thought this only fitting. Also, this corn was the only variety in New England that survived "The Year Without a Summer" (1816, also known as "The Year of Poverty"), so it was vital to New Englanders in 1817 when Henry was born.
I purchased the seeds from Fedco, which has tested the nutrition and taste of this variety, and found them both to be superior (read more about this variety here: http://www.slowfoodusa.org/index.php/programs/ark_product_detail/roys_calais_flint_corn/). The photo at right shows about one-third of our harvest. I'd like to grind this into cornmeall.
I would also love to nixtamalize this corn (that is, soak it in water and wood ashes or lye and make hominy, when ground known also as masa) as it is the traditional method of processing this corn -- it greatly increases the availability of certain vital nutrients. But how long do I let it dry? How do I best remove the kernels from the cob? What do I do with the parts that were eaten by insects -- do I remove them now or later? Flint corn is hard and a cheap, hand-cranked grinder would be tough going; it doesn't make sense for me to buy a good one for several hundred dollars for so little use. Where can I find a grain grinder I can use for less than a half-hour? (email if you can help, please!)
These are skills that adults taught children for millennia, skills that were simply part of common knowledge and practice. But in 2010 they are lost to almost everyone of us in Concord. Even Google can't tell me what to do next with the harvest -- so I'm hanging the ears to dry, hoping to find out more soon.