The soaked corn with germ and husk
9/10/10 Update on the search for Pickling Lime (calcium hydroxide, lye, cal)
Oy. The saga. Thank you for your suggestions, and here so far, is the feedback:
Not at Fairway (which is two 'hoods over, so reachable), though I had a couple of helpful Mexicans running up and down the aisles looking for 'cal', as it is known down south. They asked me patiently why I didn't just buy the prepared, canned hominy, and it was rather difficult explaining that I had this heirloom corn specially grown in a project exploring loss, that was going to be cooked from scratch to make hominy for pozole, for a Brooklyn harvest festival, though their eyes lit up at the mention of pozole...
Black covering (turns black after soaking in bicarb) of germ removed, germ still in there.
Calcium hydroxide was not at the pharmacy, either, my mother's suggestion. But at first, the petite bespectacled, helpful pharmacist at the CVS on Court at First Place said she could order it and have it here by the next day. Then she saw the price on her screen. $100 for a small packet. So she called the supplier's hotline and we waited with her on hold for ten minutes and listened to muzak. Finally she was told that they No Longer Supply It, Ever.
Is calcium hydroxide used for making bombs?
All the recipes say caution, steam, smoke, corrosive, mind your eyes, that kind of thing, so have we simply become afraid of chemicals in the kitchen? Kitchens are laboratories.
I resorted to the back-up method: Sodium bicarbonate, or baking soda, or bicarb...
I have cross-referenced about six online sources - non of which reliably reports on the results of using bicarb, with one interesting exception. The long, long, tedious, but interesting and rewarding process on (the Food).
Whether anyone will actually taste any of this at the Farm City Fair now is doubtful: eleventh hour instructions from a co-curator of the event suddenly insist on food permits and correct, USDA-approved canning procedures. Initially we 'd been told that if Christina registered as a farm we would be covered. We were going to be handing out hot tastes in little cups while the pozole simmered on my fondue burner. Unfortunately I don't think that is going to happen, as I cannot obtain a food permit overnight, so I am rather grumpy. I understand the logic, but deplore the lack of information in a timely manner, given how long this has been planned.
But it is a very worthwhile endeavour. After picking out every kernel in the corn for hours last night I can attest that there is an advantage in community. A group of us should be sitting in a circle in the September light, discussing life and the drawbacks of people with more ego than sense, as we flick the hard kernels from the centre of each corn seed with our thumb nails.
As it was I watched three soporific episodes of A Touch of Frost, circa 1989, got a crick in my already cricked neck, a craving for hot cups of tea and bacon sandwiches, and a potful of soft corn, ready to be hominy.
And while well known, it bears mentioning again that corn prepared with lime (and I do not know if this is true of bicarb, though I imagine so, since it is also alkaline) or wood ash (in the old days) makes available to the body, niacin, without which corn has very little nutritional value, and whose deficiency, in societies reliant upon corn as major food component, causes the disease pellagra.