Laura recalls Ma making hulled corn and describes it in great detail in the chapter twelve The Wonderful Machine in the book Little House in the Big Woods.
For supper, now, they often had hulled corn and milk. That was good, too. It was so good that Laura could hardly wait for the corn to be ready, after Ma started to hull it. It took two or three days to make hulled corn.
Chapter 12, Little House in the Big Woods
Hulled corn is also sometimes called hominy, and it describes corn that has the harder outer layer of each corn removed. While traditionally the outer layer is removed by using lye, there are ways to make it today which are less dangerous (lye can be dangerous for those who don’t know how to use it properly).
This is a very long and detailed process, so you need a day to make it.
1 cup dried corn kernels
2 cups water
1 tbsp baking soda
Rinse the dried corn kernels well using a strainer. Remove any loose pieces that have fallen off the corn while rinsing.
Add corn to a large saucepan and add 2 cups of water and 1 tablespoon of baking soda. Stir well to combine, again skimming off any loose pieces.
Bring the water to a boil, stirring frequently, then reduce to a simmer. Cover allow to simmer for 3 hours, checking regularly to skim off any loose pieces again as well and adding more water as needed.
Remove from heat and strain the corn. Add cold water to the pot and return the corn to the pot. Once the corn has cooled slightly, remove corn a handful at a time, rubbing the corn between your hands to gently remove the outer layer (the hull) of corn. As each handful is done, add the handful of hulled corn (without the outside hull) to the strainer.
Once all the corn has been hulled, rinse the corn in the colander very well until the water turns clear, then return to the now empty pot. Add enough water to cover the corn and simmer.
Check the corn every 15-20 minutes. If the water appears milky or cloudy, strain and add fresh water. The water will need to be continually changed for the next 2-3 hours until the corn is tender. Drain a final time and serve.
Laura loved hulled corn and they served it several ways, including with maple syrup for breakfast and fried with salt pork drippings. Laura’s favorite way to enjoy hulled corn was with milk.