bowl of cornmeal

Cornmeal is a key ingredient in polenta, tortillas, and corn bread.

Cornmeal


What is Cornmeal?

Cornmeal is corn that has been dried and ground into a coarser particle size than wheat flour. When corn is ground finely, it is referred to as corn flour. Cornmeal can be made from any type of corn, so its properties vary depending on the type of corn used. Typically, it is ground from yellow sweet corn, but red corn, blue corn, and white corn are also used in some cases.

Millers use the dry milling of corn in order to obtain cornmeal. In this process, corn is cleaned, dried, and removed of any impurities, as well as dirt. The meal is then typically tempered to a 20% moisture content. This makes it easier to remove the germ and hull from the endosperm. The endosperm is then sent through a series of roller mills in order to grind it to the desired particle size and sifted to remove impurities and separated into different particle sizes.

The miller then has three distinct products: coarse ground cornmeal, medium ground cornmeal, and corn flour. This type of milling is called steel ground cornmeal, which is the most common type in the United States. The product lacks any portion of the hull and germ, making it easier to use in baking, yet less nutritious than the whole grain types of cornmeal. Stone ground cornmeal is another type of cornmeal that leaves part or all of the germ and hull in the cornmeal. This leads to a more flavorful, grainier and more nutritious product than steel milling. This type of cornmeal has a high fiber content.

Function

Cornmeal is gluten-free and used all throughout the world to create different dishes. These traditionally include polenta, porridge, tortillas, fry bread, and corn bread. However, cornmeal is also now used in a large variety of products such as cereal, chips, breading for frying products, and grain alcohol.