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Making Hominy & Preventing Pellagra

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For those of in the south or anywhere where corn will become a main staple in our diets should the SHTF, it is important to know this information.


This post will be long. It is all of the excerpts I have copied from different sites for my binder. You may want to do more research and decide for yourselves.


I will be attempting to make hominy for masa and grits. Hominy can be dehydrated to make masa for totillas or tamales or grits. It can be used fresh and soft in soups etc. There are different methods of making hominy.


Pellagra is a vitamin deficiency disease most commonly caused by a chronic lack of niacin (vitamin B3) in the diet. It can be caused by decreased intake of niacin or tryptophan, and possibly by excessive intake of leucine.It may also result from alterations in protein metabolism in disorders such as carcinoid syndrome. A deficiency of the amino acid lysine can lead to a deficiency of niacin, as well.


The traditional food preparation method of corn (maize), nixtamalization, by native New World cultivators who had domesticated corn required treatment of the grain with lime, an alkali. The lime treatment now has been shown to make niacin nutritionally available and reduce the chance of developing pellagra.


Hominy without Lye


USDA Extension Service used to have home canning directions for lye hominy. This procedure was removed from the publications in the 1980's due to poor availability of food grade lye, concerns over the safety of handling lye in the home, and lack of popular interest. The directions have remained in print in the University of Georgia's So Easy to Preserve book. Food grade lye is not something you purchase over the counter in stores, and it is not easy to locate.


It is also very expensive and extremely hazardous to use. For that reason, we no longer recommend using it in the old USDA/So Easy to Preserve home canning directions for making hominy. After reviewing several sources and talking to someone who has made lye hominy in the past, we are offering a recommendation which removes the hulls from the corn with a baking soda solution instead of lye. Be advised we have not tested the quality of the hominy made this way.


In fact, since this product is still somewhat high risk unless rinses are performed very thoroughly, and this process is so time consuming and involves such a large quantity of heat and water resources, it is more advisable to purchase commercially produced canned hominy.


First, the original procedure, from So Easy to Preserve,4th ed. (Cooperative Extension Service, The University of Georgia, 1999, p. 66):


Original Lye Hominy (about 6 quart jars)


Hot Pack—Prepare lye hominy in a well ventilated room. Place 2 quarts of dry field corn in an enamel pan; add 8 quarts of water and 2 ounces of lye. Boil vigorously for 30 minutes, then allow to stand for 20 minutes. Rinse off lye with several hot water rinses. Follow with cold water rinses to cool for handling. It is very important to rinse the corn thoroughly.


Work hominy with hands until the dark tips of kernels are loosened from the rest of the kernel (about 5 minutes). Separate the tips from the corn by floating them off in water or by placing the corn in a coarse sieve and washing thoroughly.


Add sufficient water to cover the hominy by about 1 inch. Boil 5 minutes and change the water. Repeat four times. Cook until the kernels are soft (30 to 45 minutes) and drain. Pack hot hominy into hot jars, leaving 1 inch head space. Add ½ teaspoon salt to pints; 1 teaspoon to quarts, if desired. Fill jars to 1 inch from top with boiling water. Remove air bubbles. Wipe jar rims. Adjust lids and process.



Hominy without Lye


Preparing Hominy — Prepare hominy in a well ventilated room. Use 2 Tablespoons of baking soda to 2 quarts of water for 1 quart of dry field corn; you can double the recipe if your stainless steel pot is large enough. Add the baking soda to the water; bring to a boil while stirring to dissolve the baking soda. Then add the dry field corn, stirring continuously to prevent sticking. Boil vigorously for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then allow to stand for 20 minutes. Rinse off the baking soda solution with several changes of hot water. Follow with cold water rinses to cool for handling. It is very important to rinse the corn thoroughly.


Work hominy with hands under running water until the dark tips of kernels are loosened from the rest of the kernel. (When working the hulls to remove the dark tips, do so under running water in a colander so the shelled kernels have little contact with the remaining unshelled corn with hulls that still have baking soda solution on them.) Separate the tips from the corn by placing the corn in a coarse sieve and rinsing thoroughly.


Hot Pack—Add sufficient water to cover the hominy by about 1 inch. Boil 5 minutes and change the water. Repeat this process with clean water each time for 4 more times. In fresh water again, cook the rinsed kernels until the kernels are soft (30 to 45 minutes) and drain. Meanwhile, prepare fresh boiling water to be used when filling jars for canning. Fill the hot hominy into clean, hot jars, leaving 1 inch head space.


Do not shake or press down! Add ½ teaspoon canning salt to pints or 1 teaspoon to quarts, if desired. Fill jars to 1 inch from top with fresh boiling water. Remove air bubbles. Re-adjust head space if necessary. Wipe jar rims with dampened clean paper towel. Adjust lids and process.


Process in a Dial Gauge Pressure Canner at 11 pounds pressure OR in a Weighted Gauge Pressure Canner at 10 pounds pressure:


Pints...............................................................60 minutes

Quarts............................................................70 minutes


Caution! Altitude Adjustments:


In a Dial Gauge Pressure Canner


• At altitudes of 1001-2000 feet, the pressure is not increased; process at 11

pounds pressure.

• At altitudes of 2001-4000 feet, process at 12 pounds pressure.

• At altitudes of 4001-6000 feet, process at 13 pounds pressure.

• At altitudes of 6001-8000 feet, process at 14 pounds pressure.




In a Weighted Gauge Pressure Canner


At altitudes above 1000 feet, process at 15 pounds pressure.


NOTE: It appears that this canning info was released back in 2005 and is no longer suggested due to risk of botulism.


Using Pickling Lime to Make Hominy


Pickling lime is powdered calcium hydroxide, and is also known as slaked lime. It should not be confused with industrial quick lime, burnt lime or agricultural lime, which are toxic.



To Make Nixtamal


Nixtamal is dried field corn soaked in, and heated in, a solution of slaked lime (pickling lime) and water. Slaked lime, calcium hydroxide, is generally available in the form of "builder's lime" -- not to be confused with unslaked lime, calcium oxide.


Unslaked lime can't be used for making nixtamal unless you slake it first by adding it to water, allowing it to bubble and then stand for a bit, and then using the WATER for processing the dried corn. It's the lime, by the way, that contributes to the unique taste and texture of corn tortillas. After the corn has soaked for the required length of time (depending on whether making nixtamal for masa or pozole), it's rinsed to remove the lime and then rubbed to remove the husks.




• 4 quarts water

• 2 quarts dried field corn

• 5 tablespoons powdered slaked lime (pickling lime) -- don't use unslaked lime

(calcium oxide)


Mix lime and water in a large, non reactive (enamel or stainless steel) pot. Place pot over high heat and stir until lime is disolved. Add corn and, stiring occasionally, bring to a boil. If making nixtamal for masa to make tortillas, boil for a couple of minutes, remove from heat, cover and let soak overnight. If making nixtamal to make masa for tamales, boil for about 15 minutes, remove from heat, cover and let soak for a couple of hours. If making nixtamal for pozole, boil for 15 minutes and let soak for another 5 to 10 minutes.


After soaking for the desired length of time, rinse the corn in a colander to remove all traces of the lime while rubbing the kernals to remove the softened hulls. Once cleaned, the nixtamal can then be ground into masa or left whole to be further simmered until tender to make hominy for pozole or menudo.




Making Tortillas Using Fresh Masa or Masa Harina


Masa harina is fresh masa that's been dried and then ground into a flour-like consistency, to make masa harina you must first make masa. Masa harina is similar to, but not the same as, fine ground cornmeal. Trying to make corn tortillas out of regular cornmeal, even finely ground, would probably be unsatisfying. I suppose it would be possible to make nixtamal for tortillas, grind it into masa, dry it, grind it again and then re-hydrate it to make tortillas. But why not just make fresh masa from nixtamal and then make tortillas with it. Both nixtamal and masa can be frozen for later use.


If you wanted to be authentic, you could use a metate (a flat stone made from lava rock) and mano (sorta like a flattened, oval shaped rolling pin also made from lava rock) to grind the corn into masa...but a plate-style grain mill is a lot easier. My hand cranked Corona brand does double duty...I not only use it for masa but also for grinding grain, malted barley and other specialty malts for homebrewing. For tortilla dough, you need to adjust the plates for a fine grind to come up with a smooth dough that isn't grity.


Tamales can be made from masa ground a little coarser allowing the use of a food processor if a plate mill isn't available. It might be possible to use a food processor for tortilla dough, but I doubt you would end up with the smooth consistency desirable for tortillas. After the nixtamal has been put through the mill, water should be worked into the masa as needed to make a medium-soft consistency dough.


Hand-patting tortilla dough is an art in itself and the necessary skill takes a long time to learn (I tried it, but gave up out of frustration). A rolling pin can be used, but a tortilla press works better. I have both a cast iron and an aluminum press, but I don't see why one couldn't use a couple pieces of hardwood and a hinge to fabricate a viable substitute for a store bought press.




Using Wood Ash Lye to make Hominy


Hominy can be made out of dried yellow or white corn.


Hominy was traditionally prepared by boiling the corn in a dilute lye solution made from wood-ash leachings until the hulls could be easily removed by hand and flushed away with running water. In the modern commercial technique, the corn is boiled in dilute sodium hydroxide, and the hulls are removed by the combined action of rotating cylinders and running water.


Wood-ash lye is still often employed in this process to impart calcium to the kernels. Hominy can be made in the home by soaking dried, shelled corn in a baking-soda solution and then removing the hulls.


Hominy is perhaps most familiar in the form of coarsely ground grits, boiled and served with butter, gravy, or syrup for breakfast or shaped into cakes and fried. Grits from white corn are processed into cornflake cereals.


How to Make Lye


Lye can be made quickly by putting about one gallon of ashes in a cloth, tying the top and putting in a granite pan with two gallons of water. Set the pan on the heating stove to keep warm overnight.


The lye made had several uses:


Lye is used in making soap.


Hominy needs lye to loosen the husks on corn.


A little lye put in scalding water when butchering hogs will cause the hair to come off, leaving the skin smooth and white.


A cup of liquid lye poured on bare floors followed by scrubbing with a scrub broom made clean floors.


Ashes, usually considered a waste product, had uses other than making lye. Following are a few:


Ashes sprinkled around plants on the ground will keep almost any kind of insect away.


Sprinkled around your fruit trees, ashes will keep bore worms from bothering them.


Throw some ashes in the scalding barrel before adding water to help loosen the hair in butchering hogs.


A handful of ashes in a rag can scour silver or metal pans like a scouring pad.


If you want to rid your chickens of mites or lice, sprinkle ashes in the hen's nest.


Also if you put ashes on the ground, chickens will roll in them to rid themselves of the pests.


Hogs will eat enough ashes to worm themselves if there is a pile handy for them.


If you throw some ashes on ice or snow, there is not so much danger of falling.


Note: the traditional preparation of hominy, made with wood ash water greatly increases the protein available from sun dried field corn and makes its vitamin B-3 (niacin) more biologically available.



Hominy Makes 5 cups cooked or 3 cups dried hominy.





2 cups Dried corn kernels

10 cups Water

1 cup Culinary ash *OR* 2 tablespoons Baking soda


Soak the dried corn overnight in a bowl filled with the cold water.


The following day, put the corn and water into an enameled pot.


(Because the ash reacts with metal, hominy must be processed in an enameled or stainless pot) Cover and bring to a boil over high heat.


When the water begins to boil, stir in the ash. At this point, the ash will intensify the color of the kernels.


Cover and reduce heat. Simmer over low heat for about 5½ hours, until the hulls are loose and the corn returns to its original color.


Stir occasionally and replenish with enough water to cover the corn when necessary, or it will dry out and burn on the bottom.


Under cold running water, rub corn between fingers to remove hulls, which should be discarded. Drain corn in a colander.


To dry hominy in the traditional manner, spread the cooked and hulled corn on an open weave basket or screen and place in full sun, turning the kernels every few hours, until completely dry.


Alternatively, place the kernels on a sheet pan in a gas oven with the pilot light on, or in an electric oven on the lowest setting, turning every few hours until dry. (Check by breaking open a kernel: If there is any moisture inside, keep drying.) Once properly dried, hominy will keep almost indefinitely without spoilage.


A food dehydrator may also be used. 125 degrees is ideal.

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I tried the baking soda method today and it did not work doing as article instructed. I even recooked it a little longer and let it set a while longer.


It only barely softened the hulls. I had to literally peel each kernel of corn with some effort.


Sooo, I am now soaking the corn after being fully rinsed of baking soda in a pickling lime solution overnight & will report back tomorrow.

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Well, still working on the corn. I tried the pickling lime method last night and soaked it overnight.


I didn't see ANY hulls this morning . I think the lime may have just softened them so much that they don't even look like hulls on the corn. I rinsed it very well then tried to grind it on my Wonder Mill using the stainless burrs instead of the stone ones. I didn't want to chance mucking up the stone burrs.


It jammed up the mill, was as thick as I don't know what.


After cleaning that mess up, I put the corn on my dehydrater.


I am gonna dry it out and then grind it again.


Here is a video of the process..looks sooo easy/



Maybe it's my field corn. It's been stored for 2 years



Gonna probably try the lye method next.

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  • 3 months later...

Its not just a southern thing...corn is one of the easiest grains to grow and harvest in large quantities without machinery and is extremely versatile, as you have so delightfully demonstrated! So it will be quite popular if the SHTF for both man and beast. Ive used both the lye and the baking soda techniques with success, but have never tried grinding it since I like hominy as-is. Somewhere in my collection I even have a recipe for using the crock pot....have to get looking for that one.

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LOL - I make a turkey hominy chili every other month or so. We love it! It's also known as posole, and you can find it frozen in some parts of the country. Not mine, we're strictly canned hominy country here! I've never made hominy before although I do have some dried that I purchased a few years back. I should probably cook that!


FYI - for those of you who watch your carbs, the "mexican" style canned hominy has significantly fewer carbs than the regular.

Edited by Andrea
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I enjoy hominy, Mountain Man so-so. Therefore, don't plan to engage trying to make it myself. Will just stock some canned, and enjoy corn from the garden...LOL

Same here I love it and could eat it every day; however, hubby doesn't like it. It ranks up there with green peas and boiled eggs with him...as in do not serve that to me if you expect me to eat.

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I like hominy but my folks were not used to it. So, thats what posole is! That sounds good! I have put regular corn in my chili but this is a great idea for me to eat more hominy for the vitamins. If I made it from dried corn I would use the baking soda method.

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