In this valley…. maize stalks grow larger and thicker than I have ever seen in any other province through which I have traveled and I have never seen any yield as well as in this valley, because in the other provinces each stalk yields two or three ears, and here four or five. It is very good maize. (Jerónimo de Vivar, 1558)
[The native Chileans] had ….in many parts of the country, aqueducts for watering their fields, which were constructed with great skill. Among these, the canal which, for the space of many miles, borders the rough skirts of the mountains in the vicinity of the Capital, and waters the land to the northward of the city, is particularly remarkable for its extent and solidity.
Planting began in September or October and after two to four irrigations, harvest proceeded as needed from the arrival of the first green corn in December though April or May. Further south, where there is adequate summer rain but a shorter growing season, maize was planted in October and was harvested in January and February, before frosts began in April. Molina, the Jesuit quoted above, provides the best early discussion of Mapuche maize:
The Chileans call [maize] hua and believe that they have had it since before their arrival in the country. Their primitive cultivation has produced many varieties, among which they especially distinguish: cujumpe-hua or black maize, quely-hua, or red maize; pijima, or variegated maize; callquintu or black and white maize; gylil or flour maize; and mallehua or little white maize. All these varieties have great success in
, commonly producing three or four large, perfectly filled ears. Chile
The Chileans use a great deal of this maize, making various foods among which they are especially fond of one which they call Huminta . These are made with fresh tender maize kernels, ground between two smooth stones, as cacao is prepared by chocolate makers. The resulting milky paste, seasoned with lard, salt or sugar, according to individual taste, is divided into small pieces each of which is wrapped in two of the tender shucks of the maize ear, and tied into a small packet, are cooked in boiling water. With this same dough they make crust for pies and various kinds of cookies.
When the maize is ripe, they prepare it for winter in two ways: they give it a light cooking then calling it chuchoca or cunarquen, or they leave it uncooked. With the first, after crushing it, they make soups and with the other a type of very tasty beer [chicha]. They also make it into flour, but before milling it they toast it in a sand bath. For this they use another species or variety of maize, called curahua, “rock maize,” whose grains are smaller. Upon cracking in the sand bath the flour doubles in volume, yielding a whiter and more digestible flour. This flour dissolved in cool or hot water with and sugar or honey, becomes the ulpo, and chedcan that rural Araucanians [Mapuche] drink regularly, in place of coffee.
This last variety of corn, curahua or cuaragua, an ancient popcorn variety originating in
The preparation methods Molina discussed also continue to be popular. Humitas are in great demand throughout the summer [see “Humitas, Chilean Tamales”], and the same dough is used for today’s pastel de choclo, corn pie. The corn used for humitas, called choclo humero, is very large, with 20 or more rows of kernels and, according to “Races of Maize in Chile” is probably descended from a cross between native maize and dent corn introduced from the United States in the 19th century.
Some ears of green corn are harvested for eating. They are prepared in a great variety of ways. Sometimes they remove the husks from the ear—the ear separated from the plant they call the choclo. They put them on the fire to roast and when cooked on one side they turn them. Completely roasted they are eaten and called roasted choclo. Other times they bury the ear, covered with its husks, in the ashes. When it is well cooked they take them out, remove the husk and eat them. These are called buried chocols. They also boil the husked ears in a pot and eat them as-is; these are called boiled choclos. Finally they boil them in the husks and dry them afterwards. In this state they are called chuchoca. Dry they are shelled and ground on the stone. The ground dough, called locro, is added to various stewed dishes.
Pan de chuchoca
2 tasas chuchoca
1 cucharadita bicarbonato de soda
1 cucharadita sal
1 envase yogurt natural (170 gm)
230 cc leche
1-2 cucharadas mantiquilla o grasa de tocino
Calentar el horno a 210°C/425° F. Echar la mantequilla o grasa en una fuente de horno de 1 lt para calentar. Mezclar los ingredientes secos en un bowl y echar los ingredientes líquidos. Mezclar bien y colocar en la fuente caliente. Hornear unos 20 minutes hasta que el pan este firme. Servir con mantiquilla y miel.
2 cups chuchoca
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon SALT
1 container plain yogurt (170 gm/6 oz.)
1 cup milk
1-2 T butter or bacon fat
Heat oven to 210°C/425° F. Put butter or fat in 1 qt. oven proof Pyrex dish or cast iron skillet and place in oven to heat. Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl and add liquid ingredients. Mix well and pour into hot dish or skillet. Bake about 20 minutes or until the bread is firm. Serve with butter and honey.
Sweet Corn 
One of the classic first courses in Chilean cuisine is a tomato stuffed with a corn salad.