Thursday, September 29, 2011

Painted Mountain Corn

Especially take note of the cob five from the left. The mixture of colors in just one kernel is amazing.

I had only put in a very small patch of this Painted Mountain Corn to try it out. It is reported to be very hardy and will grow where other corns won't in places around the world in differing climates. I was most interested in it's cold hardiness but alas, I got it in after the sweet corn because of the need to clear an area of weeds before planting.

I also failed to try eating it when it was young for it is also suppose to be good to at that stage too but a family emergency meant that I was gone helping during this critical time. This also meant my sweet corn was picked rather old but family comes first so I just added a bit of sugar when I froze it and we'll make due.
From the time this corn was a foot high it has won my artistic heart. Painted Mountain corn not only has beautiful cobs but the tassels are even painted.

Far more colorful that this sweet corn's tassels.
The husks were more lively than sweet corn's too as some were the same pale yellow color as sweet corn and others this rich dark burgundy. It made me think of how gorgeous these would be on corn dolls. Not something I'm likely to make because of so many other projects.
The size of the cobs was varied as some were very large such as this one and some quite small.

If it weren't for the fact that the sweet corn and the Painted Mountain corn pollinated at the same time them I would love to save seed from the colored corn cobs I favored the color of most and from those that were extra large. But you can see from the above photo of the Painted Mountain corn in the background and the sweet corn in the fore ground that they bred to each other because of the dark kernels on some of the sweet corn. Both kinds being heirloom breeds and open pollinated.
I've never grown corn meal type corn before and so I also am fascinated about the fact that the sweet corn when dry is all shriveled but the corn meal type is not.

For lack of room in the basement to lay out the Painted Mountain corn to complete its drying, I'm going to shell the corn and put it in the dehydrator on low to hurry things along. It is almost done already.

I can't wait to grind the corn and see just how it tastes. So far the tiny patch is a winner as the corn is especially high in antioxidants, the darker kernels are much higher even than blueberries.

Dave Christensen from Big Timber, Montana has been growing this corn and developing it for our high altitude and low nitrogen soils here in the West.

Dave says on his home page that this is the corn that the Indians and the homesteaders relied on. It is much higher in micro nutrients, minerals, and protein than today's commercial sweet corn. Commercial hybrids are bred for high yields, not nutrition.

That's why I'm most interested in heirloom breeds. After all isn't nutrition one of the major reason why we eat. Most Americans have forgotten that fact. The other reason why I'm interested in heirloom breeds is the potential for self-sufficiency. Self-sufficiency that is when I figure out what I'm doing. Oh how I wish it was so simple as just keeping the seeds and putting them in the ground once more.

If this breed proves to be yummy in corn bread, then I'll try it once more by planting it a few weeks earlier than the sweet corn in hopes it will pollinate at a different time as the sweet corn. Otherwise, I'll have to grow sweet corn one year and this corn the next. Meanwhile, I think I'll put some on the table with a Rouge... pumpkin. Fall colors always gives me feel warm, cozy, and content feeling.

For those who have e-mailed but I haven't responded to. I will get it done tomorrow or this weekend. Life is especially difficult right now but please don't quit writing, I love to hear from you. We will be hopefully hauling hay all weekend.


  1. I bet that Painted Mountain corn makes some cool-looking tortillas and cornbread! Let us know how it tastes! My sweetie and I were looking at planting some of it, last year (or was it the year before?), but we never did.

  2. Another reason the supersweet corns are so prevalent now is that old fashioned sweet corn like golden bantam are only in the prime eating stage for a week or so - they also do not keep well on grocery shelves. However, older varieties of sweet corn taste vastly superior to the newer hybrids. They actually taste like corn!

  3. Hi, I just found your blog. My family and I started growing Painted Mountain in 2010 for seed, when we realized how valuable Dave Christensen's work is for small farmers in the Northern Rockies. Especially now that more and more people and discovering a gluten intolerance and becoming more educated on the horrors of GMO. We've been developing our strain of Painted Mountain and have achieved much longer ears, typically 11-15 inches long, bigger kernels, and very few anomalous or strange-looking ears. We're getting as high as 400:1 return on lbs of seed planted. We've kept our strain GMO-free and after careful testing, we can confirm that our 2013 crop is Fukushima-free as well.
    Disclaimer: We run a little seed business based somewhere int the wild mountains of Montana. Check out our little family endeavor: