How to Malt Corn

Malting is the process of partially germinating and then drying grain to preserve its enzymes. To malt your own corn, you’ll need to first steep and germinate the kernels, and then dry, kiln, and clean them. By using the right tools and sticking to a schedule, you can turn corn into malt to use for things like baking and brewing.


Part 1 of 4: Steeping the Corn

How to Malt Corn

Use a drill to drill holes in the bottom of a five gallon (20 liter) bucket. Make sure each hole is smaller than the size of a corn kernel.

How to Malt Corn

Place the bucket in an urn of the same size. Remove the lid of the urn so you can set the bucket inside. It’s OK if part of the bucket is sticking up out of the top of the urn.

How to Malt Corn

Fill the bucket with about four pounds (1.8 kilograms) of corn. The corn kernels shouldn’t reach the top of the bucket as they will expand during the steeping process.

How to Malt Corn

Pour water into the bucket until the water is one inch higher than the corn. You want the extra inch of water because a lot of the water will be absorbed into the corn during the steeping process.

How to Malt Corn

Set the urn thermostat to 77 degrees Fahrenheit (25 degrees Celsius). You want the water to remain this temperature during the entire steeping process.

How to Malt Corn

Let the corn steep in the water for nine hours. Check back after nine hours and lift the bucket of corn out of the urn. Let the water in the bucket drain into the urn through the drilled holes.

How to Malt Corn

Let the bucket of corn rest on an elevated surface for three hours. The rest period, called an “air rest,” will help get rid of CO2 and encourage the corn to take up more water during the steeping process. When it’s finished resting, place it back in the urn so it fills up with water.

How to Malt Corn

Alternate between steeping and resting the corn. Your steeping schedule should look like:

  • First steeping: nine hours.
  • First air rest: three hours.
  • Second steeping: nine hours.
  • Second air rest: three hours.
  • Third steeping: nine hours.
  • Third air rest: three hours.
  • Fourth steeping: nine hours.

Part 2 of 4: Germinating the Corn

How to Malt Corn

Remove the bucket of corn from the urn. Let the water drain back into the urn so only the corn is left in the bucket.

How to Malt Corn

Pour the corn into an eight gallon (30 liter) tray. You can make the tray yourself out of wood or buy an aluminum tray at the store. Make sure the sides of the tray are tall enough to keep in all of the corn.

How to Malt Corn

Place a thermometer in the tray to monitor the temperature. You want the temperature to be between 72 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit (22 and 28 degrees Celsius) while the corn is germinating.

  • If the thermometer reads too high of a temperature, move the tray to a darker, cooler place.
  • If the thermometer reads too low of a temperature, place a portable heater or small heat fan that allows you to adjust the temperature near the tray. Check the thermometer regularly to make sure the tray isn’t overheating.

How to Malt Corn

Rinse and stir the corn every 12 hours while it’s germinating. This will keep the grain moist and prevent heat buildup that naturally occurs during germination.

How to Malt Corn

Let the corn germinate until the shoots are twice as long as the kernels. The shoots are the long, root-looking parts of the corn that emerge during germination.

  • You can start the drying process once 70 to 80 percent of the corn has shoots that are twice the length of the kernels.

Part 3 of 4: Drying and Kilning the Corn

How to Malt Corn

Dry the corn in a food dehydrator to stop the germination process. Set the food dehydrator to between 100 and 125 degrees Fahrenheit (38 to 52 degrees Celsius) and leave the corn inside to dry.

How to Malt Corn

Weigh the corn after several hours to check the moisture content. You want the corn to be at 10 percent moisture before you increase the temperature in the food dehydrator. You’ll know the corn is at ten percent moisture when it weighs .5 ounces (14.2 grams) less per pound (.45 kilograms) than it did before you started the malting process.

How to Malt Corn

Increase the temperature when the corn is at ten percent moisture. Raise it to between 140 and 160 degrees Fahrenheit (60 to 71 degrees Celsius). The corn will be finished drying when it’s between three and six percent moisture content, or when it’s lost three ounces (85 grams) per pound (.45 kilograms) of its original weight. The entire drying and process can take between six to eight hours.

How to Malt Corn

Transfer the corn to a baking sheet and put it in the oven for four hours. Set the oven between 176 and 185 degrees Fahrenheit (80 to 85 degrees Celsius). After four hours, the corn will be finished kilning and malting.

Part 4 of 4: Cleaning the Malt

How to Malt Corn

Pour the dried malt into a pillowcase. Tie the pillowcase shut so none of the malt can escape.

How to Malt Corn

Put the pillowcase in the dryer for ten minutes. Run the dryer on the coolest setting so you don’t heat up the malt. Tumbling the malt will help remove the bitter-tasting roots and shoots of the corn.

How to Malt Corn

Separate the malt from the broken off roots and shoots. You can do this by hand, or you can use a sieve to separate them more easily. The malt will look like small, dried-up corn kernels.

How to Malt Corn

Store your malt in a plastic container with an airtight lid. This will prevent oxygen and moisture from damaging the malt over time. Properly stored malt is good for up to a year.

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Things You’ll Need

  • Five-gallon plastic bucket
  • Urn
  • Drill
  • Food dehydrator
  • Tray
  • Scale
  • Pillowcase
  • Sieve
  • Thermometer
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