Cornmeal is a meal (coarse flour) ground from dried maize (corn). It is a common staple food, and is ground to fine, medium, and coarse consistencies, but not as fine as wheat flour. In the United States, very finely ground cornmeal is also referred to as corn flour. However, the word cornflour denotes cornstarch in the United Kingdom, where cornmeal is known as polenta and finely ground corn flour (for making bread or tortillas) is known as maize flour.
There are various types of cornmeal:
- Blue cornmeal is light blue or violet in color. It is ground from whole blue corn and has a sweet flavor. The cornmeal consists of dried corn kernels that have been ground into a fine or medium texture.
- Steel-ground yellow cornmeal, which is common mostly in the United States, has the husk and germ of the maize kernel almost completely removed. It is conserved for about a year if stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.
- Stone-ground cornmeal retains some of the hull and germ, lending a little more flavor and nutrition to recipes. It is more perishable, but will store longer if refrigerated. However, it too can have a shelf life of many months if kept in a reasonably cool place.
- Tie Bing (貼餅 sticking bread) - This product can either be fluffy like a mantou or more flatbread-like. It is traditionally stuck around the outer rim of a large wok while meat or fish is being cooked. Generally, an alkalizing agent such as baking soda is added to increase the nutrient value. It is also found in northern China.
- Corn congee (棒子麵粥) - A porridge made from plain cornmeal. It is normally thinner than grits or polenta and is often eaten with Chinese pickles.
- Wo tou (窩頭 nest head) - Shaped like a hollow cone, this cornbread looks like a bird's nest, after which it is named. It is commonly eaten in northern China, and may contain dried jujubes and other flavoring agents.
- Arapash or harapash - Albania (similar to the Romanian style but often combined with lamb organs, or/and goat cheese)
- Farina di granturco - Italy (not the same as farina, which is made from wheat)
- G'omi ( Georgian: გომი), mchadi (Georgian: მჭადი), tchvishtari - Georgia (g'omi is similar to polenta, mchadi - cornbread, tshvishtari - cheese cornbread). Known by different names in local languages (Abkhaz: абысҭа abysta, Adyghe: мамрыс mamrys, Ingush: журан-худар juran-hudar, Nogai: мамырза mamyrza, Ossetian: дзыкка dzykka or сера sera), it is also widespread in other Caucasian cuisines.
- Kachamak (качамак) - Macedonia, Bulgaria and Serbia
- Mălai - Romania (the cornmeal itself; prepared as mămăligă)
- Polenta - southern Europe, especially Italy
Horn of Africa
Mesoamerica and South America
Grindstones inside Mingus Mill, in the Great Smoky Mountains
of North Carolina
. Corn is placed in a hopper (top right) which slowly feeds it into the grindstone (center). The grindstone grinds the corn into cornmeal, and empties it into a bucket (lower left). The grindstones are turned by the mill's water-powered turbine.
- Fubá - Brazil
- Masa - nixtamalized corn used for making arepas, tamales, and tortillas, in Central America, Mexico, and South America
- Polenta - a typical dish in many Latin American countries, including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Paraguay, Venezuela and Uruguay.
- As a batter for a fried food, such as corndogs
- Made into bread, as in corn fritters, cornbread, hushpuppies, jonnycakes, or spoonbread
- As breading for fried or baked foods, such as fried fish
- As a breakfast cereal ingredient
- Cheese curl-type snack foods, such as Cheetos and Cheezies
- In corn chips such as Fritos, but not tortilla chips or corn tortillas, which are made from nixtamalized maize flour
- As a release agent to prevent breads and pizza from sticking to their pans when baking
- As grits
- As a porridge, such as cornmeal mush, which is often then sliced and grilled
- Known as "samp", it was used in colonial times as a kind of porridge.
- ^ a b Herbst, Sharon, Food Lover's Companion, Third Edition, Pg. 165, Barrons Educational Series Inc, 2001
- ^ a b c Kilbride, Philip; Goodale, Jane; Ameisen, Elizabeth, eds. (1990). Encounters With American Ethnic Cultures. Tuscaloosa, Alabama: University of Alabama. p. 82. ISBN 0-8173-0471-1. Retrieved July 24, 2010.
- ^ "Section II: Food Commodity Fact Sheets". Commodities Reference Guide (USAID).