My understanding that chicha is traditionally consumed within as little as a day after pitching. For my tastes, chicha is much too sweet at this stage. After about 3 days, chicha becomes much more to my liking. At this point, the chicha will still be actively fermenting, but will have become fairly dry. I suspect that there are very few big sugars to slow things down, and the chicha is probably almost fermented out at this point.
I highly recommend making some frutillada from the young chicha. Use your favorite method to obtain some strawberries. Pop a dozen or so 'berries in the blender, add just a little chicha, and whip it into spooge. To about 16oz of young chicha add about 1/2 cup of the 'berry mush and stir it in. I'm here to tell ya that frutillada is heaven! The fresh berries add a little body and sweetness and are a perfect complement to the corn. It was very difficult not to gulp this treat.
The verdict is that chicha is mighty fine stuff! I admit I enjoyed my initial schooner of chicha much more than I thought I would. Frankly, my expectations were low. While chicha is thin-bodied, it does retain some sweetness, and the spices should provide even more flavor and interest. The piloncillo (sugar) appears to contribute surprisingly little taste-wise. Obviously, the predominant taste and aroma will be that of corn. Also, the giggle-factor derived from witnessing active fermentation in the glass is not to be understated. Perhaps my impressions are colored by how much fun I think the culmination of several months of preparation is, but then, chicha appears to be fun stuff.
Making chicha was one of the most educational, enlightening, and just downright entertaining brewing-related activities I've ever undertaken. In my opinion, this is worth doing if only because you get to participate from planting to drinking. If nothing else, that is a very satisfying feeling. However, if you throw in the fact that you get a damn tasty beverage out of the deal, then there's no reason not to plant some corn next Spring.
Traditionally, chicha is consumed shortly after pitching. Chicha ferments out in as little as four days. It seems to be at its best on days 2 and/or 3 when it still had some sweetness and body. The fermented-out version is a rather uninspiring beverage that you will need to add something to to jazz it up a little. As mentioned, a lactic acid infection works well for this, as does strawberry puree added in the glass. One might also try other fruits and/or the addition of brown sugar, also in the glass rather than during fermentation.
As far as souring goes...I like Cantillon as much as the next Lambophile, and my Wits have been called "puckeringly sour" by SoB judges, but my experiments with additions of 88% lactic acid to the young chicha did not thrill me. The active carbonation and the corn itself provided plenty of tang for my tastes, but you'll want to try this for yourself. However, once the chicha fermented out, sourness was quite appropriate. In fact, I preferred the dry, sour chicha to the sweet young chicha. I dare say that sour chicha is a very Lambic-like beverage (in spirit, if nothing else).
Chicha is a fairly delicate beverage; not big on flavor. I think one should be careful not to overdo the spicing. On the other hand, the spices have a real tendency to fade. Certainly it should be spiced to taste, but it is very easy to overpower the corn flavor. Their subtle flavor, I think, is the reason that strawberries work so well. Also, it is apparently traditional to sprinkle some cinammon and cilantro on top at the time of drinking.
5 pounds of corn (dry weight) is as much as I want to malt at one time. Anything larger than that becomes difficult to rinse, turn, and dry.
Don't worry if all the kernels don't sprout. If what acrospires there are begin to show signs of turning into leaves, it's time to dry the whole batch.
An oven is not the best way to dry malted corn. It works OK for 2-3 pounds, but there isn't enough ventilation for much more than that. At least not in mine. Disregarding the birds for a moment, spreading the sprouted corn out in the sun works very well and the jora will be completely dry in a couple of days.
A standard homebrew mill (Phil Mill, Valley Mill, Glatt Mill, MaltMill, etc.) will not crush jora. A Corona mill will. Lacking a Corona, you might try improvising a big mortar and pestle. Go ahead and crush it to flour.
I really should try "yellow grocery store corn" sometime...
Please try this at home. And please let me know how it goes.