Home Malting Corn

>> Friday, August 03, 2018

Malting Maiz Morado
I mentioned a while back in my post about my grain tumbler that I was toying with doing some home malting. I've always wanted to try brewing a beer inspired by fermented corn beverages that are native to the Americas, like Chicha and Tiswin. I haven't settled on a final recipe yet, but I'm happy to say I seem to have successfully malted some Peruvian purple corn.

To be honest, I was kind of shocked this worked on the first attempt. I went to a local market after spotting maiz morado on their website (http://www.lapequenitamarket.com). The corn comes in a gallon-ish-sized bag, dried, and still on the cob. My initial concern was maybe it was somehow treated/kilned so that it was sterile and wouldn't germinate. The second concern is I've never tried malting anything, so I figured there was as good or better of a chance of me ending up with a soggy mess of moldy rotting corn, as there was of being successful at actually germinating the corn.

I started out by removing the kernels from the cobs. I then sifted the corn over a desk fan in a stainless colander. The purpose here was to remove as much debris as possible, hopefully reducing chances of mold. Next, I transferred it to my stainless bucket and filled it with tap water until it was about an inch above the kernels. I let this sit for about 5 hours, then transferred them to a colander for a couple hours. Then they went back in the bucket with fresh water for an overnight soak.  The next morning I changed the water again and left it to soak for a grand total of about 24-28 hours. Then I drained them in a colander and transferred them to a large stainless chafing pan. I placed moist paper towels in the bottom of the pan before adding the corn and covered them with most paper towels as well. Then I stuck it in my warm garage (just in case it started smelling like hot garbage) and headed off to work. I checked it when I got home from filling Chardonnay barrels with sour beer at SaltFire Brewing (shameless plug, I'm running the sour beer program) and was super happy to see that the corn was germinating. Most resources indicate it can take up to 5 days to germinate, but in my case, it was closer to 16 hours.

Once the shoots were about 2x the length of the kernel, I transferred the corn malt to my food dehydrator to halt the germination process. Spreading the grain out on a towel, or in the sun to dry should work too, but I have access to a good dehydrator so that's what I used.

Next, I lightly kilned the corn malt in our oven at 176F for about four hours. The last step was to transfer the corn malt to a pillow case and put it in the clothes dryer (no heat) for about 10 minutes. This knocks off the shoots; they're bitter, and you don't want them in your beer.

That's about it as far as the process goes. You'll notice i didn't use my malt tumbler this time. The main reason was I wasn't sure this was even going to work, and I didn't have time to pick up a bucket to be dedicated for malting. I'll probably give it a try on the next batch now uhh far I have a little more confidence that the process works. Stay tuned for an experimental beer.