Stone Ground Cornmeal

cornI didn’t eat much cornbread growing up.  Tragic, I know.  And also quite strange, considering there was definitely no shortage of BBQ or chili in my household.  Aren’t those the standard cornbread counterparts?  C’mon Mom, what was up?  My recent experimentations with Maple Banana Cornbread and Maple Sweet Potato Cornbread must have been attempts to fill that childhood void. 

Well, I may not be a cornbread expert yet, but I do know that every great recipe starts with the same thing.  No, no…not a Jiffy box.  Cornmeal!

Cornmeal is basically dried corn kernels that have been ground.  Today, corn is the most widely grown crop in America, but it was actually first cultivated in Central Mexico thousands upon thousands of years ago.  It spread north and south and the Native Americans quickly learned to grind it into a meal to use in cooking. Cornmeal is now a staple ingredient in many parts of the world.

Important to note – Not all cornmeal is created equal!  And by that, I mean not all cornmeal is whole grain.  If the cornmeal you’re looking at doesn’t say 100% whole grain, check for the label stone ground cornmeal, appropriately named after the method used to produce it.  To make stone ground cornmeal, dried corn is crushed between millstones, leaving the hull and germ – the nutrients! – of the corn in tact.  This grinding process is what gives cornmeal its characteristic gritty texture.  Stone ground cornmeal is also, but less commonly, known as water ground cornmeal because waterpower is most often used to turn the millstone wheels.  Doesn’t that sound so wonderfully old-fashioned? 

Cornmeal can be white, yellow or blue, depending on the type of corn used.  The darker the corn, the sweeter and nuttier the cornmeal.  Darker corn also produces more protein-packed meal.  All varieties are excellent sources of iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and vitamin B-6.  They’re also gluten free, which I know some of you appreciate!

Arrowhead MillsKing Arthur and Hodgson Mill are some good brands that make whole grain cornmeal.  Check ‘em out!

Do you have a favorite baking recipe that uses cornmeal?


17 Responses to “Stone Ground Cornmeal”

  1. 1 Sharon December 2, 2008 at 12:23 am

    Wow, I never knew much about corn meal, so thanks for sharing such a great post.

    And to be honest, I have never had corn bread in my entire life. I definitely should try it. But there are many other things on my list that I haven’t tried, such as larabars, clif bars, egg nog, and the list goes on. Haha!

  2. 2 Jennifer December 2, 2008 at 6:48 am

    Living in the South, there is A LOT of cornbread around!! I make ours homemade with stone ground cornmeal as well.
    So far my fav cornmeal recipe is my maple cornbread muffins (that I serve with pumpkin chili!)

  3. 3 VeggieGirl December 2, 2008 at 7:15 am

    Great information regarding cornmeal!! I love polenta recipes, if that counts 😀

  4. 4 catms916 December 2, 2008 at 1:47 pm

    I actually made some cornbread for Thanksgiving that came out spectacular. I posted the recipe on my blog, but if I remember correctly it consisted of: stone ground cornmeal, pureed white cannellini beans, soured milk (milk & vinegar), salt, baking powder, sugar and stevia. Maybe I’m missing something??

    I also made a rustic plum tart with a cornmeal crust for the boyfriend that came out so delicious! I’m actually digging for that recipe right now…

  5. 5 Tina December 2, 2008 at 2:31 pm

    Mmmmmmm… cornbread! I have had a piece in ages!

  6. 6 Bridget P December 2, 2008 at 5:29 pm

    My last cornbread experience involved a mix from my pantry…boo! I really wanted to make it from scratch but I wanted to get rid of the mix first. When I do make it, I’ll look for stone ground. Thanks for the info 🙂

  7. 7 sweetandnatural December 2, 2008 at 8:03 pm

    Sharon – What?! No cornbread?! Or Larabars?! Get on it my friend!

    Jennifer – Pumpkin chili sounds amazingly delicious.

    VeggieGirl – Polenta is yummy too. 🙂

    catms916 – I love the sound of that tart! Adding rustic to the name adds so much character. I’m such a sucker.

    Tina – I hadn’t either!

    Bridget P – Haha, did that Jiffy comment make me sound like an elitist baker? 😛

  8. 8 Mel December 2, 2008 at 8:31 pm

    Thank you for all this info, ironically I had put cornmeal on my list about five minutes before reading this! Now I know what kind to buy!

  9. 9 Andrea [bella eats] December 2, 2008 at 10:46 pm

    I loved your maple banana cornbread recipe, and so did my hubb and co-workers! I’ve really only made cornbread with cornmeal, and used it to sprinkle on my pizza stone so the dough doesn’t stick…lame, I know. 🙂

  10. 10 FollowMyWeigh December 3, 2008 at 1:32 pm

    i loooove cornbread! sadly, all the cornbread i’ve attempted to make by scratch just didn’t live up to the boxed kinds. i’ll have to check out your recipes! the sweet potato one sounds like i would like that =)

  11. 11 sweetandnatural December 3, 2008 at 9:24 pm

    Mel – Fun! Hope you share what you make with it!

    Andrea [bella eats] – I’m so glad you liked it! And you’re so professional with your cornmeal pizza crust sprinkling. 🙂

    FollowMyWeigh – Don’t give up!

  12. 12 Frieda December 3, 2008 at 9:57 pm

    I love cornmeal! I recently discovered that I can grind popcorn kernels in my wheat grinder on the coarse setting and get the freshest cornmeal around! I use it in cornbread, Mexican cornbread casserole and my husband pours the cornbread batter on a hot griddle for cornbread pancakes. Check my site for recipes!

  13. 13 sweetandnatural December 4, 2008 at 8:11 am

    Frieda – How cool! I don’t have a wheat grinder, but if I did, I’d be in the kitchen experimenting!

  14. 14 Anderson December 21, 2008 at 12:32 pm

    You might want to soak the stone ground corn meal in pickling lime first to increase digestibility and uptake of nutrients … see the cookbook nourishing traditions or google corn meal and pickling lime for more details…

  15. 15 sweetandnatural December 22, 2008 at 12:50 am

    Anderson – Thank you for the tip – I’ll look into it!

  16. 16 Tomm February 2, 2010 at 8:19 pm

    If you have trouble finding Fresh Stone Ground Cornmeal in your area look me up and I send you some! Better yet come see me !
    Readyville Mill since 1812

    • 17 jan January 22, 2013 at 3:52 pm

      Tomm, I’m in Oregon……where are you ? I want to try my hand at Salt rising bread, which calls for fresh stone ground cornmeal…… luck finding it yet……..jan

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