What is cornmeal? Cornmeal also called Corn meal is a common staple food ground from dried corn.
Cornmeal can either be processed through a stone-ground, which produces a coarser texture and more artisanal product, or steel rollers that produce fine ground cornmeal, removes the germ and bran, and make it shelf-stable.
Most times, people mistake cornmeal for cornflour and start asking questions like corn flour vs cornmeal – What’s the difference?
Well, the primary difference between cornmeal and cornflour is the texture (as you can see on the image below). Cornmeal is coarse and gritty with yellowish color, while corn flour is a fine powder that is usually white.
In essence, they are both ground forms of milled, dried corn, and the texture difference comes from how coarsely or finely corns are ground.
In a simpler explanation from above, I’m saying that the major difference between cornmeal and corn flour (corn flour vs cornmeal) is that cornmeal is ground into coarse, medium, and fine consistencies but not as fine as cornflour.
What this means is that corn flour is grounded to be smoother than cornmeal (corn meal), that’s why in Mexico for instance, very finely ground cornmeal is referred to as corn flour.
However, the confusion regarding the difference between cornmeal and corn flour also goes down to understanding the difference between grits vs cornmeal.
Grits are yellow or white cornmeal in varying grinds, always made from dent corn and always coarser than coarse cornmeal.
However, instant grits are par-cooked and just need boiling water although some say they lack the texture and flavor of regular grits.
Still, some manufacturers don’t distinguish between grits and polenta, labeling them the same.
Polenta vs cornmeal: cornmeal polenta is a dish, not an ingredient but at most grocery stores, what is labeled polenta is essentially medium-grind cornmeal.
In Italy for instance, a polenta dish can be any milled grain or starch like buckwheat, chestnut, or yes, corn which is cooked into a porridge…. And when cornmeal is used to make the porridge, it can also be called cornmeal porridge.
Now is cornmeal gluten free? Well, since cornmeal is only made with dried maize, it is gluten-free. However, there’s always a chance that the cornmeal was processed in the same facility as gluten products, so be sure to read your labels.
Also, traditional cornmeal-based recipes like corn muffins, corn bread, and southern hoe cakes do contain gluten.
Types of Cornmeal (corn meal)
There are various types of cornmeal and they include:
Yellow cornmeal: This is made from yellow corn, which is common mostly in the United States, has the husk and germ of the maize kernel almost completely removed.
Then it is conserved for about a year if stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.
White cornmeal: This is made from white corn, is more common in parts of Africa. It is also popular in the Southern United States for making cornbread.
Blue cornmeal: This is a corn meal that is ground from whole blue corn and has a sweet flavor. It is also a staple of New Mexican cuisine used commonly to make tortillas.
How to make cornmeal
Cornmeal is very simple to make as it doesn’t require much expertise or stress to make cornmeal.
All you need do is take some corn (field corn, that is, not the sweet corn ate all summer), dry it, grind it, and bam! You’ve got cornmeal.
Read Also: How to Plant Maize – Complete Guide
Cornmeal recipes (What is cornmeal used for)
There are many cornmeal recipes available as cornmeal can be used in making or producing many food products like cornmeal cookies, cornmeal porridge, cornmeal pancakes, cornmeal mush, cornmeal cake, cornmeal pizza crust, cornbread, cornmeal waffles, cornmeal rolls, and many more.
However, where there is no cornmeal, some other ingredients can make for a good cornmeal substitute like polenta, corn grits, and corn flour.
Now let us discuss some recipes to make some of the cornmeal food products above:
(1) Cornmeal pancakes
Cornmeal pancakes are a tasty twist on classic pancakes. | One Bowl Recipe. No buttermilk. No need to whip egg whites!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4 people
- 1 cup finely ground cornmeal (5 ounces cornmeal; 142 grams)
- 1 cup all-purpose flour (4 ½ ounces; 127 grams)
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar (1 ⅓ ounce 38 grams)
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs (out of the shell: about 4 ounces; 113 grams)
- 1 cup milk (8 ounces; 226 grams)
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- Nonstick cooking spray or vegetable oil for greasing the griddle
- Maple syrup
- Make the Batter: Whisk cornmeal, flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt together in a medium mixing bowl. Add the eggs, milk, and vegetable oil. Whisk until smooth.
- Heat the Griddle: Lightly oil a nonstick griddle. Heat griddle over medium-high heat.
- Cook the Pancakes: Pour batter, approximately ¼ cup, onto the griddle. The batter should sizzle when it hits the pan. Cook for approximately 3 minutes. Flip pancakes when bubbles appear all over the surface of the pancake and begin to pop. The pancake should begin to look almost dry. Flip and cook another 1 to 1 ½ minute.
- Serve: Serve with butter and syrup, if desired.
- Keep Pancakes Warm: To keep warm, preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. Place cooked pancakes on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
(2) Cornmeal porridge
Prep Time: 2 mins
Cook Time: 10 mins
- 1 cup fine cornmeal
- 1 cup coconut milk in a carton – not canned. Or soy milk
- 2 cups water
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cinnamon stalk
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 3 tablespoons cane sugar or coconut condensed milk or molasses or honey (optional)
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1. In a medium pot, add the cornmeal along with the milk, water, salt, and cinnamon stalk.
2. Turn on the heat to medium, and keep stirring (I use a whisk).
3. Cook the cornmeal until it thickens and has a porridge consistency (for around 10 minutes). Add the sugar, nutmeg, and vanilla extract and cook for 30 seconds more.
4. Remove from heat, and serve in bowls topped with fruit and a sprinkle of ground cinnamon.
- The calculated nutritional facts are a rough estimate per unsweetened portion of cornmeal porridge.
- If you’re watching your calories, then substitute coconut milk with soy milk.
Calories: 181kcal, Carbohydrates: 31g, Protein: 6g, Fat: 4g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 328mg, Potassium: 211mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 232IU, Vitamin C: 4mg, Calcium: 86mg, Iron: 1mg
(3) Cornmeal mush
Makes: 15-18 Servings
Prep. Time: 5-10 Minutes
Cooking Time: 4-6 Hours
Ideal Slow Cooker Size: 4-Quart
- 2 cups cornmeal
- 2 tsp.salt
- 2 cups cold water
- 6 cups hot water
1. Combine cornmeal, salt, and cold water.
2. Stir in hot water. Pour into greased slow cooker.
3.Cover. Cook on High for 1 hour, then stir again and cook on Low for 3-4 hours. Or cook on Low 5-6 hours, stirring once every hour during the first 2 hours.
4. Serve hot with butter as a side dish.
Note: When we lived on the farm, Mother would prepare boiled mush for the evening meal. The rest she poured into pans and fried for supper the next evening. I adapted this recipe for the slow cooker several years ago when Mother was living with us and I needed to go to work.
1. Serve warm with milk, butter, and syrup or chili.
2. Serve slices for breakfast with maple syrup, bacon, sausage, or ham and eggs.
Variation: Pour cooked cornmeal mush into loaf pans.
Chill until set.
Cut into ½-inch slices.
Coat with flour and fry in butter.
Read Also: Complete Guide on How to Cook Pasta
(4) Cornmeal cookies
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for shaping
- 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, and salt; set aside.
Step 2: In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla; beat until smooth. With the mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture, mixing just until combined.
Step 3: Drop dough by heaping tablespoons, about 2 inches apart, onto two large baking sheets; flatten slightly with floured fingertips.
Step 4: Bake until edges are golden, 14 to 16 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Transfer cookies immediately to a wire rack; let cool completely.
Read Also: 13 Amazing Health Benefits of Cucumbers
(5) Cornmeal pizza crust
- 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- Pinch of sugar
- 2/3 cups warm water
- 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
- 1/4 cup cornmeal, plus more for pizza peel or baking sheet
- 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for the bowl
- Roasted tomatoes, optional topping
- Easy butternut squash puree, optional topping
- Toasted pumpkin seeds, optional topping
- Caramelized onions, optional topping
Step 1: In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast and sugar over the warm water. Let stand until yeast is dissolved and mixture is foamy about 10 minutes.
Step 2: Combine flour, cornmeal, and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the center, and add the yeast mixture and oil.
Step 3: Slowly stir ingredients with a wooden spoon just until the dough starts to come together.
Step 4: Turn out dough on a lightly floured work surface, and knead until smooth and elastic, 7 to 10 minutes.
Step 5: Divide dough into four 4-ounce balls. Place balls in a shallow oiled bowl, turning to coat with oil; cover with plastic wrap, and let rise 1 hour at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator.
Step 6: Preheat the oven to 500 degrees with a pizza stone on the lowest rack. Stretch dough into 6- or 7-inch rounds. Sprinkle cornmeal on a pizza peel or inverted baking sheet.
Step 7: Place dough rounds on top, and cover with toppings, as desired.
Step 8: Slide rounds onto the pizza stone, and bake until crust is crisp and golden and toppings are bubbling, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from oven; serve immediately.
Read Also: Complete Guide on How to Make Meat Pie
(6) Cornmeal waffles
Yield: about 4 dozen
- 5 cups self-rising cornmeal
- 1 cup self-rising flour
- 5 cups boiling water
- 1 ¾ cups milk
- 4 eggs
- ⅓ cup bacon drippings
Step 1: Combine cornmeal and flour; add boiling water, and let stand 10 minutes.
Step 2: Add milk, eggs, and bacon drippings mixing well.
Step 3: Pour about 1 1/3 cups batter onto a hot, lightly oiled 9-inch waffle iron.
Step 4: Cook 5 minutes or until golden brown.
Step 5: Repeat the procedure until all batter is used.
Step 6: Break waffles into fourths; cut each in half.
How to store cornmeal at home
You can store your cornmeal properly in airtight and cold as most cornmeal will keep for up to two years if properly stored and for the specialty stuff, it’s more like six months.
If you go the pantry storage route, cornmeal should be fine at room temperature for between nine months and a year and even for shelf-stable, it’s better to keep it cold.
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