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kappydell

making hominy from scratch

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I hope you don't mind my posting an article I wrote for backwoodsman mag about treating corn to make hominy/posole. I saw a question about it in another place, thought it might go here, too....kappydell

FROM ANIMAL FEED TO PEOPLE FOOD: HOW TO MAKE HOMINY

Hominy is an interesting food. It is easily made from dry corn, producing a cheap, filling, and tasty dish that has fed common folks since colonial days. Hominy grits are chopped hominy; the whole kernel type can be found canned in some grocery stores and the dried hominy (posole) can be ordered on the internet as well. But it is cheaper and a lot more fun to make it yourself. So just how do you turn that dried corn into edible hominy? There are several ways, depending on what material you find available. I have made hominy from corn I shelled from corn ears sold for feeding squirrels, as well as animal feed corn purchased from the feed store. Dent corn or flint corn work equally well, as does white, yellow, or multi-colored corn. (Popcorn does not make hominy, though it can be ground for an acceptable corn meal.)

Now you may ask just why on earth anyone would mix lye, ashes or baking soda with corn. It sounds like an unappetizingly odd thing to eat and an awful lot of work just to make dinner. Simply put, treating the corn with lye or lime changes the corn’s chemistry in critical ways if you are depending on corn as a major food source, as our ancestors did. It takes the hull off the corn for faster cooking and for easier processing into a wider variety of edibles. (The variety keeps you from getting bored with eating corn.) But it also makes the niacin in corn more absorbable in the human body, an important way of preventing Pellagra (a malnutrition disease). It adds calcium to the corn. Finally, it alters the protein content of corn to make it a more complete protein. So there are good reasons both historically and scientifically for making hominy out of corn, as opposed to simply grinding it untreated, into corn meal.

Hominy made with lye bought at the store is most common in my area. Be sure you get lye (sodium hydroxide), not drain cleaner, from the grocery, hardware or building supply store. Wash 2 quarts of shelled corn to get rid of dust and chaff. Put the corn in a non-reactive pot (I use my enamel canner) and add 8 quarts potable water and 2 ounces of purchased lye (about 8 – 9 teaspoons). Bring the pot to a boil and boil vigorously 30 minutes. Turn off heat and let stand 20 minutes longer. Drain hominy and rinse well using hot water.

Work the hominy (rub it) with your hands, until skins and the little dark tips at the point of the corn are gone. Float them away in the rinsing water.
Drain the hominy, rinse out the pot and put the corn back in. Add water to cover plus one inch and bring to a boil. Boil 5 min. Change to fresh water and repeat the 5 minute boiling cycle 4 more times.
At this point you may cook and eat it, freeze it, can it or dehydrate it. This recipe makes 6 quarts or so of hominy (which amount fits my canner per- fectly for canning).

You can make your own lye water by dripping rain water (distilled for those with no rain catching system) through hardwood ashes. You might have trouble finding a barrel to make the drip system. Don’t worry, plastic pails that stack work just as well. (Better yet if you can get the baker at the local grocery store to give you a couple for free.) Proceed to make lye water in the usual manner and remember, if it not strong enough to suit you or to float the egg, you can simply run the weak lye water through
another pail of fresh ashes to make it stronger, or boil it down to concentrate it.

To use the lye water to make hominy, put 2 gallons of lye water, 2 gallons of dry corn, and 2 additional gallons of plain potable water in a large non-reactive pot (that enamel canner works just fine!). Simmer until the corn kernel skins start to slip off. Drain, rinse and rub the corn through 4 cycles to get the lye out. Boil in the cleaned pot in water to cover until the skins finish coming off completely and the hominy rises top of the water. Scoop the hominy out and cook it as desired.

You can even skip the lye making step and make hominy with wood ash directly. Put two double handfuls of clean ashes (meaning you did not burn anything but just the wood) from oak, maple or poplar wood fires into 2 to 3 quarts of clean water. Boil for 1 hour, and then let it set all night for the ashes to settle. In the morning, boil dried corn in the water (strained if you like) until the skins come off and the corn color brightens, about 1-2 hours). Rinse and rub in 3 changes of water. Use the fresh hominy right away or preserve for later.

Some recipes use lime instead of lye to treat the corn. You can use either pickling lime (also called mason’s, builders, or hydrated lime) which is calcium hydroxide, or you can use quick lime which is calcium oxide. Either one works, they just are used slightly differently.

To use calcium hydroxide, place 2 quarts of potable water in a large (4 quart) non-reactive pot. Put on the stove on high heat. As it begins to simmer, stir in 2 tablespoons of the lime with a wood spoon. When it is totally dissolved, add 1 quart of washed dry corn. Discard any kernels that float. When the pot begins to boil, lower heat to a simmer, and simmer 2 minutes. Turn off the heat, cover the pot and soak the corn 4 hours to overnight. Check it, and when the corn skins start to slip, drain the corn into a colander and put it under running water. Work and rub the corn with your hands to remove skins, and gelatinous slime. When the corn is clean, there will only remain a small speck at the corn tip. That is the germ, it can stay or not as you like. Boil the hominy in clean water until it is as done as you like.

If your lime is calcium oxide, you use it the same way except that you do not heat the pot. You add the lime to cold water, and it will start to bubble. Stir to dissolve it completely. When the bubbling stops, add the corn, and then put the pot on the fire. Heat, soak, and rinse it as above.

If you want a non-corrosive way to make hominy (perhaps your toddler gets into everything and feeds it to the family dog to boot) you can use baking soda instead of lye or lime. It takes longer, but is perfectly tasty just the same.

Shell out 1 quart of field corn, and wash it to get rid of dirt, dust, and chaff.
Put the corn in a large non-reactive (enamel or stainless steel) pot with 2 quarts of water and 2 tablespoons of baking soda. Soak it overnight.
The next day, put the whole pot on the fire, and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer 3 hours. Drain, replace the water with cold water and rub the corn hulls off. Drain off the water and hulls, replace with more cold water. Bring to a boil, and simmer only 1 hour this time. Drain, put in cold water and rub off more corn hulls. Repeat the simmer-wash cycle until all the corn is free of hulls. Drain, cook in fresh water until done to suit.

Hominy can be eaten many ways depending on your whim. Boiled until soft, salted and buttered is a good way to start. Then you can try cooking it in a stew with celery, onions, kidney beans, and ground beef; adding it to chili (corn and beans make a complete protein); simmered with diced pork, garlic, onions, chili powder and oregano; or maybe with crumbled cooked bacon, some onions sautéed in the bacon fat, tomato soup thinned a bit with water and seasonings of choice. Lime-treated hominy is used in making masa (ground hominy) for corn tortillas and tamales. Recipes abound.

If you made a little too much to eat at one time (or other family members do not like hominy) you can freeze the excess. But I find the texture suffers, so I prefer to can it or dehydrate it for storing.

To can hominy, simmer it until the kernels are soft, then pack it hot in hot jars leaving 1 inch head space. Add 1 tsp salt per quart, or 1/2 tsp salt per pint. Add cooking liquid leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Process at 10 pounds pressure in a pressure canner. Process pints 60 minutes and quarts 70 minutes.

To dehydrate hominy, I use a dehydrator (to compensate for a very humid climate). I spread cooked hominy evenly on the trays, and dry it at 140 to 150 degrees Fahrenheit, until it is as dry as dry beans (it will break when hit with a hammer). Break a piece open and make sure it is dried throughout. The dried form, sold as posole goes for $3 to $5 a pound, and keeps well for several years if kept dry. To use it just simmer it until soft again.

Autumn being the season of dried field corn, I get a hankering for hominy about this time of year. It has been a popular food since colonial days. Made from any dent or flint corn, of any color, it has provided cheap, tasty and filling meals for generations of hungry hard working folks. So shell some corn, and before you grind it into cornmeal, why not set some aside for hominy?



Ive used all these techniques to make hominy, except the wood ash part because I did not have any hardwood ashes to try with. Now I have a fireplace, so I can save some wood ash....letcha know how it turns out!:2thumb:
 
UPDATE:  The hominy made using wood ash worked well, it just took a little longer, probably due to the fact that there was no way to measure the lye from the ash versus the lye from a lab.  The percentages would be all over the place...but it DID work.  
Edited by kappydell
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I have a lot of the backwoodsman magazines and have been on their site. I have seen this before about harmony.  Never tried it but something to keep in mind to learn how to do.  We eat grits and from what I gather it is something like the grits you buy in the stores. There will be a learning curve in there. As I have never done anything like that before. But worth learning. I am sure though that it won't taste like store bought grits. 

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I tried making hominy because I had never eaten it, growing up in the frozen north....but thought it might be something handy to know, since you can dehydrate it, can it, and even freeze it.  I liked the taste, it was different from anything else I had ever eaten and I liked it.  I think it tastes better than grits, which I do eat now that I am in the south and they are so prevalent here.  Like you, I think the more ways I know how to cook corn (which is cheap, store-able, and versatile) the better.  I have been consciously working store-able foods into my regular diet, so as to avoid "menu shock" if I need to switch over in an emergency.  It does not hurt that basic prep foods they tend to be economical as well, LOL.    I always have my eyes peeled for dry corn recipes!

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Kappy I do agree, we need to learn how to cook new things now as we never know what tomorrow may bring. Corn will be coming in this spring and I am going to try it. Though we are not using the fire place now for past 4 years as it needs repairs. I could use the fire pit for the wood ash.

My mother was no cook. Though she did some things good but no cook.  My grandmother on the other hand. Was a great cook and it never took on my mother. She didn't even learn to can food. But her sisters did. And they were good cooks. Grandma was a country cook. Straight from the garden to table and she is the one that taught me how to can. I used to go spend the summers with her and granddaddy right after school.  Sat on back porch everyday helping granddaddy chuck corn and shelling butterbeans. And that was no small back yard garden. He had 18 acres of land that he had gardens in. Apple trees and grape vines as well. Also had chickens and a milking cow.  I really miss those days there on that farm. So I guess my grandparents way of life rubbed off on me as it was not easy for them but to me it was a lot of fun. 

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Thanks for the article!  Glad to hear (and will copy) that it can be made with baking soda!

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My great aunts made hominy.  My granny opened cans of hominy instead, and I didn't like hers.

 

Hominy grits are smoother and creamier than plain grits.  Popular for baby food.

 

Also look into parched corn.  Rub some dried corn off the cob into a not-terribly-hot cast iron skillet and stir it around with a wooden spoon until the kernels puff but only a few half-pop.  Try not to let them burn.  If you have good teeth, you can eat this as is: parched corn.  If not, you can grind for parched corn grits, which have a fuller flavor than regular grits, or parched corn meal, which some people call rock hominy.  I asked why the original whole pieces of parched corn were not what was called rock hominy, and they said, "because."

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I can remember eating canned hominy. I wasn't a big fan of it but a cousin loved it. I haven't had any since I was about 10 years old. I'm not sure they even sell it up here in the northern states any more. 

 

Is the parched corn the same as Corn Nuts? I do like them seasoned with dry ranch dressing. 

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As far as I know I have never had it.  As a small child you really don't know what you might have eating from your grandparents home. Mine were hunters and of course the gardens. So may have eating deer, and bear. But don't remember. But I am going to try out the harmony for sure.

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On 2/15/2020 at 2:57 PM, Ambergris said:

I'm not sure what corn nuts are.

Corn nuts are a special large kerneled dry corn (the size of a dime) which are roasted like soy nuts, then salted & sold for snacking.  Nice & crunchy....I think they are similar to parched corn but not exact duplicate

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