fermentation trouble

ClareBroommaker's picture

I learned from the internet of a southern US dish called sour corn. I come from the south and was raised with at least some southern cooking, yet I had never even heard of sour corn! So I decided to try this lacto-fermented food.

Fifteen days ago I immersed the kernels from two large ears of fresh sweet corn (one of those super sugar enhanced varieties) in a 2% brine. That is less salt than I usually use, so it was probably going to be prone to the "wrong" microbes growing. I did not have it in an oxygen excluding container, but the corn was deep under the surface. I sampled the corn once and found that it was getting sour, but decided to let it continue fermenting to develop enough acidity to help it keep better, longer. I wanted to see if this was not just a means to produce an alternative fresh corn dish, but to store corn that would be ready-to-use without soaking to re-hydrate.

I typically visually check ferments every day until I consider them "finished." This one I forgot about for about three days. I found it with the surface covered with white, velvety, hydrophobic growth. Yeast? Mold? Not the famous kahm yeast I'm familiar with. It smelled off and definitely alcoholic. I tasted a single kernel and it was nice and sour, so had lacto-fermented quite a bit. In addition, I tasted alcohol. I tasted some of the brine and could taste alcohol there. I spat out my taste due to my fear of unknown, unfriendly alcohols. It is not good tasting as a drink due to all the salt, anyway.

I always fear producing methanol or other weird alcohols. Otherwise, I'd probably go ahead and eat the corn!

What do you think? Comments? Anyone familiar with "sour corn"?

Sweet Tatorman's picture

Like you I had not heard of it. A quick google search does turn up plenty of mentions as well as recipes. I look forward to your report of eating the finished product.

ClareBroommaker's picture

Maybe I will take some of it and heat it up in fresh water to drive off the alcohol, try it that way.

Wish my mom were alive so I could ask her about this.

I'm all for making drinkable alcohol deliberately, but would want a bit of assurance that I have safe stuff.

ClareBroommaker's picture

I guess I should tell what happened.

I soaked my alcohol-salty corn for a about and hour and a half in fresh water. That did remove a lot of the saltiness, but I was surprised I could still taste the alcohol. So I changed the water and soaked it four hours. After four hours, I did not taste the alcohol, the salt, or any sourness. I was surprised that it just tasted like sweet corn again. The corn flavor was still there underneath all that salt and alcohol. So I cooked and ate it. No apparent harm done to my health.

Apparently, this could be used as a long term storage of corn, but it does seem like a lot of trouble to return it to "plainness".

Oh, I also have fermented a very small amount in a mix of little whole cabbages (secondary growth cabbages), carrots, garlic, sweet peppers, and radishes. That corn is much better and I'm happy to eat it in small amounts alongside a meal.