Kenneth DUBARD, Congaree Milling Company: “We use the nixtamalization process in milling in the Southern U.S. I don’t know of any other mill that’s making hominy grits. Primarily, I am focused on producing grits, cornmeal, and polenta. I do some oats. And there’s the hominy production, also. I am in the process of getting certified for organic production. All of the grains I mill are certified organic.”
As Miller Magazine, in this issue we have come together with Congaree Miling Company which produces organic corn flour, hominy and grits in Columbia, capital of South Carolina, USA. The company which services in milling industry for 4 years processes the grain at 68 kilograms an hour, due to the cleaning process.
Saying that he processes grains such as corn, oat via small-burr mill, Kenneth Dubard, owner of Congaree Miling Company emphasized that they use the nixtamalization process in the Southern U.S. at the mill. We talked with Kenneth Dubard about production capacity of the company, methods of milling grains and its export. We take the details from Kenneth Dubard…
Mr. Kenneth DuBard, first of all, could you please introduce us The Congaree Milling Company? What is the company’s history and role in the industry?
You could refer to The Congaree Milling Company as a micro mill. I started the business at the end of 2013 as a partnership, but I bought out my partner in early 2017. He is continuing work in the industry.
Most of the work is done by me, but I have one miller who is assisting me. The Congaree Milling Company is about as small a mill can get, but I think this is advantage, quality-wise.
Could you give us some information about your facility, production capacity and technologies you use? Are there any other fields you give service besides flour production?
We share our facility with a restaurant. This approach is a novel one that is allowed by the South Carolina Department of Agriculture. From a technological point of view, my mill is a throwback to earlier times. I have a small stone-burr mill. We clean our grits by hand using screens and catch-bowls for the finer particles. A vacuum is used to assist removing pericarp. I’m maxed out at 68 kilograms an hour, due to the cleaning process.
One accomplishment I am very proud of is reviving the nixtamalization process which is common in milling in the Southern U.S. I don’t know of any other mill that’s making hominy grits. Primarily, I am focused on producing grits, cornmeal, and polenta. I do some oats. And there’s the hominy production, also. I am in the process of getting certified for organic production. All of the grains I mill are certified organic.
Could you tell us production and consumption of grain, milling industry in Columbia? How many are there mills in Columbia, South Carolina? Which grains do people process in your country? Also, could you give us some information about flour consumption in Columbia?
Columbia, South Carolina is probably the grits capital of the world. Of the mills in the region, the largest is probably the pasta plant where my former business partner, Lawrence Burwell, works. Another large mill is Adluh Flour, a grist mill in the middle of downtown Columbia, and a landmark to say the least. Anson Mills is where Lawrence and I worked before we started Congaree Milling Company. Then you’ve got Joe Trapp out in Blythewood, Keisler’s mill in Lexington. There are some others I’m sure I’m missing.
South Carolina was once a large producer of rice, remarkably. I have milled many kinds of grains such as maize, rice, wheat, buckwheat, emmer, eincorn, spelt, even sorghum.
Could you give us some information about your role and place both in Columbian, in global industry and your share in the market? How many countries have you reached?
Well, we are a fairly new mill, small for even Columbia, but I did recently ship grits to China. We have few shipments overseas. The majority of the work we do is with local restaurants. The sky is the limit, though, and I have definite plans. I will act according to my plans.
Could you tell us which issues you focus on for R&D studies?
All of the work in starting The Congaree Milling Company was dedicated to satisfying the bureaucracy, honestly. I had complete confidence in my ability to produce a superior product from my experience at Anson Mills. Once I found a grain source, I knew I could do it. I spent about $10,000 for opening the mill.
What do you think about the reasons why people choose The Congaree Milling Company?
We have a novel product line, most notably the hominy grits. Online, devotees of Southern cuisine are attracted to coarse grits and cornmeal, which can be hard to find. My prices for the products are very competitive. The restaurants we service like the freshly milled, whole-grain flavors of my products.