Osmak White Corn

Cereals and Flours - Serbia

Bela rana, Beli domaći kukuruz, Krivak

 

Osmak White corn is well adapted to harsh mountainous conditions. The stem is thin but resistant to drought and weather conditions. It produces one cob, about 30 centimeters long and slightly curved - giving the name "Krivak." The cob has eight irregular rows of grain - giving the name "Osmak." They can be also 10 to 12. The grain is big and hard, white, yellow and orange. The most famous is white one - hence the name meaning "white forward" and "white domestic corn."  It has a distinctive flavor and are therefore held to this day, despite the onslaught of many hybrids, which are much more fertile and profitable. In 1576, Greek traders brought maize to Serbia. Corn then became the main bread cereal in Serbia during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. An increased population meant an increased demand for bread cereals in the late 19th century, which saw further expansion of corn cultivation. A greater share of maize in the diet of the population continued until the 1960s, especially in central Serbia.


Osmak white corn is harvested in October, mostly by hand and together with the husks, which are removed later. After that, the corn-cobs are kept in barns to dry on air. Dry corn is shelled, mostly by hand. The grains are poured into jute sacks and later milled into flour. Often, both varieties of the group "eight-row soft Zuban" can be found under the local names: White Osmak, Wide White Osmak, Noktas or White Osmak Poluzuban. They have a big, white and soft grain. Soft corn is producing soft meal, which is tastier then flower from hybrids. For that reason rural population prefer this variety for their traditional dishes such as polenta (kačamak/mamaljuga, proja). Domestic Osmak is increasingly grown for private household use only, mostly for grinding. It is also sought after among the fishermen because carp like it very mach.
White corn is popular among tourists for its appearance and specific aroma. It is flavorful and sweet, and dishes made of this flour have more tender structure compared to flour from other hybrid varieties.

 

This variety is grown in mountain areas where wild pigs and boars often destroy maize fields. It is also at risk of disappearing due to an aging population and land abandonment in the region. Already in the majority of Serbia traditional varieties are being replaced by hybrids. However, the introduction of thse hybrid corn varieties have generated a need to preserve local varieties that have high genetic diversity and can be used as a natural source of important characteristics for crop improvement.