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Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sweet Success?

I'm doing a fairly large scale test today to produce a sweetener from corn.

The test will involve all natural processes.  Currently, when you buy a commercially-made corn syrup, they use a process where they add acid to corn starch.  Definately not something I want to get into.

I'm going to be following an old corn mash or moonshine recipe where malted grains (barley in this case) are added to ground corn.

Malting is the process where you wet your grains, and allow them to sprout to a certain extent.  This sprouting starts a natural process of converting the starches stored in the grain into sugars (that the plant would use to feed itself while it grows).  It also naturally produces enzymes which can be used to help un-malted grains (corn, in this case) to convert their starches into sugar.

I know the correct corn-to-barley ratio.  The problem I'm having is finding the correct ratio of water-to-grains.  From my all-grain brewing experience, I know that malted barley absorbs about 0.13 gallons of water per pound of grain.  I'll start with the assumption that corn is the same.

Also, from my beer brewing experience, I know that corn has to be gelatinized - pre-cooked - so that their starches are available to be converted to sugars.  A lot of the old moonshine recipes talk about boiling the corn.  That will gelatinze the corn just fine.  If that is done with the malted barley, the beneficial enzymes needed for starch-to-sugar conversion will be killed (above 170F). 

We homebrewers actually do a step called the Mash Out where we raise the temperature of our mash to that temperature to stop the further conversion of starches so that we can meet the (eventual) alcohol levels of a particular style of beer.  So the timing of the addition for malt will be important.

If this test is even moderately successful, I'm going to try doing this by malting my own corn.

I'll try and keep detailed notes on how to produce the sweet corn liquid, then how the liquid is turned into syrup, and do posts on the whole process.

Accept The Challenge

Skill building is an important part of prepping.  It behooves us to learn these skills BEFORE we need to use them in a real-life situation or emergency.

Use your weekends or other free time to practice skills - foraging, long-term food preservation, brewing - whatever things or skills you will need that might not be readily available during an emergency situation.

Many of these skills also teach you how to make things that are much better or more healthy than things you can buy in the store.  I rarely buy beer any more - in fact, I only buy it when I'm giving it to someone else!

Home baked bread is so much better than the stuff you can get from the store, and it is much less expensive per loaf.  It just takes a bit of time and planning.

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Anonymous said...

This is pretty interesting. I never made beer but am learning the whole enzyme, probiotic thing with kefir grains. I thought making yogurt for a lot of years was a good thing and it is. What is fun is to keep learning new ideas and more healthy ways of living. Am looking forward to seeing how your experiment goes-good luck.

Chief Instructor said...

It was a long day, but me and a friend got it done. I've got two gallons of sweet corn "water" that I'm going to boil down into the syrup. Probably not until tomorrow, though.

I'll do a post on the whole process sometime later this week.