My goal is to help people grow their food and get it all the way to the table using the least fossil fuel. When they sit at that table to share a meal I don’t want them to be so worn out that they are too tired to eat. Or have too many blisters on their hands to hold a spoon. If you shell out dried corn by hand, blisters are sure to appear. If you are growing corn for cornmeal and grits, it is nice to have a corn sheller for the job and, once you have one, you need a box to mount it on.
There are as many designs and dimension of corn sheller boxes as there are people who make them. I made mine from plywood and other wood scraps we had on hand. The framing on the short sides stabilized the box and proved helpful as handles on the top edges. It is comfortable to grasp that edge on each side when I carry the box. The longer sides do not have that framing. My box is 12” high and I think that is a good height.
Hindsight tells me that I could have made my box a little smaller. I scooped out the corn until I realized that it would be easier to put a pan in there to catch the kernels and just lift the full pan out. The pan you see in the photo is a turkey roasting pan. If I was to make a new box I would make it to match whatever pan I was using to hold the corn, taking care that it didn't fit so tight that it would be hard to remove when full of corn. Instead of the pan, or in addition to it, you could put a sheet in there, draping it over the sides. That would catch all the kernels and you could pull it out and dump them in a bucket. You will find more information about corn shellers and their boxes at Homeplace Earth.
There are new corn shellers on the market that I haven’t personally seen, but I have had good luck with the old ones I’ve found. Price will vary, but often they are available for no more than $35 if you are willing to hunt for them at antique malls. For those of you who prefer to shop with your computer, you will find them on ebay. There are enough old corn shellers out there that you don’t have to settle for one with a broken handle.
If you don’t already grow corn for cornmeal, maybe you would if you had a corn sheller and a homemade box to put it on. In that case, keep your eyes out for a corn sheller now and put flour corn in your garden plan for next year. If you find a corn sheller and you don’t yet have corn to use it with, go ahead and make the box anyway. Your homestead will be ready when the harvest comes.
Cindy Conner is the author of Seed Libraries and Grow a Sustainable Diet and has produced DVDs about garden planning and managing cover crops with hand tools. Learn more about what she is up to at Homeplace Earth.
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