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Answer to August 7 2010 riddle

Benton, KY(Zone 7a)

I am corn, Zea mays. Along with beans and squash, we were known as the 'Three Sisters' to the ancient peoples of the Americas. Together, we were nutritionally complete and easily stored. My sisters and I were vital to their survival.

Thumbnail by melody
Halifax, MA(Zone 6a)

Here is a trivia fact. When cooking corn the Native peoples would add to the pot, a small portion of wood ash. The reason is Culinary Lye (aka Potash), a mixture of water and wood ash to which corn is cooked in, removes the clear outer coating of each corn kernel (pericarp). Mixing wood ash and water together form potassium hydroxide, a natural caustic chemical, which makes hard proteins in the corn pericarp soluble. this process makes niacin and other micro-nutrients in corn digestible, which simmering dried corn in plain water does not.

Today, in place of the water-and-wood-ash brew is Culinary Lime, a white powder from purified, natural calcium deposits. It is mixed with water to make lime water. Hominy is dried corn simmered in lime water. I can also be called posole or nixtamal. Nixtamal is also the name of the cooking process.


This message was edited Aug 9, 2010 9:03 AM

East Bridgewater, MA

Thanks to both of you.

I hope it "stirs" interest (sorry about the pun) in our pre-Columbus cultures, because they lived in harmony with their environments across the continent.

Good point about the niacin; the European explorers returned to the Old World with many of the food stuffs, but not all the cooking techniques to access the foods' nutritional value.

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