The Native People’s of New Hampshire had been growing corn long before the European settlers arrived (it is native to the Americas).
Archeology studies show that the first “Indian corn” was being grown at least 5000-7000 years ago. The plant’s genealogy itself may have come from an ancient “cross between teosinte and gamagrass” (two grasses).
Corn does not grow “in the wild” (and is found only under cultivation). Possibly it originated in Mexico as the world’s most ancient preserved corn, at least 3,600 years old, was excavated from the dust of a cave near Tehuacan, Mexico. During the time of Christopher Columbus’ expeditions to America, samples of corn were taken back to Europe (and other parts of the world) and varieties developed that thrived in the English climate.
One of the earliest dishes made by European settlers in the New World was a “samp porridge” which was similar to the Native American dish (corn and bean) but added root vegetables and preserved meat. Some credit the success of the European settlements on the easy availability of corn to eat, and as food for their animals.
*EARLY NEW HAMPSHIRE RECIPES USING CORN*
From “The Farmer’s Cabinet,” of Amherst, New Hampshire: 5 April 1849.
A GOOD AND CHEAP DESSERT DISH.–Wash a pint of small homminy very clean, and boil it tender, add an equal quantity of sifted meal, make it into a batter with milk, and two table-spoonfuls of butter and four eggs. Beat it well, grease your griddle or frying pan with a little butter or lard. Then pour in your batter, allowing enough to make each cake the size of a dessert plate. Eat them with cream and sugar, or with butter and molasses.
FRITTERS.–Scald a quart of sifted Indian meal; when it is cold add a gill of milk, three beaten eggs and 2 table spoonsful of flour. Make the batter thick, and drop it by large spoonful into a frying pan containing enough boiling fat to prevent the cakes from sticking. Fry them brown, and send them to table hot. To be eaten with butter and sugar. If you cannot procure eggs substitute a gill of yeast, and let them stand till night. —–
From “The Farmer’s Cabinet,” of Amherst, New Hampshire: 8 November 1861
[Originally from the American Agriculturist]
CORN BREAD.–The following (not before published) we formerly copied from the MS. of a good housewife in Georgia: Beat two eggs very light, mix with them, alternately, one pint of sour milk, or buttermilk, and one pint of meal. Add one tablespoon of melted butter. Dissolve one tablespoonful of soda in a little of the milk and add to the mixture. Last, but not least, beat hard together and bake quick.
SOUR MILK CORN CAKE.–Take one quart of sour milk, or buttermilk, a large teaspoonful of pearlash, a teaspoonful of salt. Stir the milk and meal together to make a stiff batter over night. In the morning, dissolve the pearlash in warm water. Stir up quickly; bake in shallow pans.
VIRGINIA CORN DODGERS.–Take three pints of unsifted yellow corn meal, one tablespoon of lard and one pint of milk. Work all well together, and bake in cakes the size of the hand, and an inch thick. We have eaten this in Dixie’s Land, and know it to be palatable–to a hungry man highly so.
RYE AND INDIAN LOAVES.–(First-rate–the real Yankee loaf.) Scald 2 quarts Indian meal, and when cold add 1 quart of unbolted rye flour, 3-4 pint of molasses, 1 tablespoonful salt, and water enough to make a stiff sponge or batter. Pour into deep iron pots or kettles, and bake in a slow oven for three or four hours. If in a brick oven, leave it over night. A standard bread in New England, eaten both hot and cold.
APPLE CORN BREAD.–Mix 1 pint of Indian meal with 1 point of sweet milk, and add 1 quart of chopped sweet apples, and a small teaspoonful of salt. Bake in shallow pans in a quick oven. To be eaten hot.
SAMP.–This is a good method of using corn, and a popular one when well tried–made not of the white hominy of various grades of coarseness; but yellow corn fresh plucked from the field, or well preserved, and but recently crushed (not ground) at the village mill. Boiled well, as directed above for pudding, no dish is more popular than this with children, and many grown people, particularly in Autumn and Winter.