More on Corn Slitting

By Kinsey, Sue | The Chronicle of the Early American Industries Association, Inc., June 2003 | Go to article overview

More on Corn Slitting


Kinsey, Sue, The Chronicle of the Early American Industries Association, Inc.


A special interest of mine is nineteenth-century food preparation, so I was intrigued by Bob Roger's article on patented green corn shredders ("Hand-Held Green Corn Shredders," The Chronicle 56, no. 1). Here was a kitchen gadget I had never heard of, and one with a nineteenth-century origin! In my collection of nineteenth-century cookbooks there are many recipes which call for green corn, but none of them mention using any kind of slitter to break open the kernels. The usual directions are to grate the corn. An occasional recipe says to split the kernels with a sharp knife and then scrape the corn from the cob.

At an antique show a week after reading the article in The Chronicle, the object in the photograph (Figure 1) caught my eye. It was obviously homemade. The body is a piece of hickory with minimal shaping. The edges were whittled down a little to make a smooth handle, and the ends were chamfered. It is 6 1/4 inches long. The ten tiny blades are set into a slot in an iron block and held in place with lead (Figure 2). The iron block is perfectly fitted into a recess in the handle. The tool fits my hand very comfortably. It is impossible to date, but it has the look and feel of an early piece. The dealer offering it had no idea what it was, and neither did I, until I remembered Mr. Roger's article. This thing had to be a homemade green corn slitter.

A trip to the grocery yielded an ear of very mature, very tired Florida sweet corn. …

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