If you didn’t know, cooking is all an art. Of course, for you to deliver a quality meal you need to use the correct ingredients while following a particular recipe.
However, there are days when amidst cooking you realize that you have run out of major ingredients.
Now, a good cook should know each ingredient they use in a meal and their effect on the meal. This helps to find a substitute that will deliver the same result.
Cornmeal is a vital ingredient in the kitchen. This article is going to show you its substitutes.
WHAT IS CORNMEAL
This is a flour that is made from ground corn kernel. It’s however not corn flour even though they are both from corn kernel. Note that, cornmeal has larger grain size than corn flour. Most people use the cornmeal as a breakfast cereal but it’s also used to prepare different meals.
Although it’s finely ground, it assumes a coarse texture than the wheat flour. It appears in powder form with the granular texture. Don’t confuse it with corn-starch even though sometimes people refer to cornflour like they do corn-starch.
Note that, the corn that makes the cornmeal is nothing like the summer corn on the cob. The cornmeal is made from the starchy field corn that has usually matured in the fields then dried. After the drying, the corn is processed in different ways.
Types of corn
Cornmeal varies in texture, it may be fine, coarse or medium. So medium and coarse grinds are used in baking while the coarse one is best used for pudding and polenta.
The ground dried corn maybe white or yellow. This is a result of the maize used and you can use the white cornmeal and yellow cornmeal interchangeably. They only have a slight difference in flavor. You may also have the blue cornmeal though it’s a rare option.
The cornmeal can either be whole or degerminated. Corn kernel has 3 parts: the fibrous hull, starchy endosperm and germ packed with vitamins and oil. Your whole grain has all the three parts and therefore a richer fully flavored and nutritious version.
On the other hand, the degerminated one is hulled to create the fine texture but it’s also the common one in the supermarket. This is because your whole grain has a high content of oil which turns rancid in a matter of days.
Another type is the masa harina which is made using cornmeal that is cooked in lime water first.
TOP SUBSTITUTES For Cornmeal
Before you choose a substitute, you should know what the cornmeal would do to your recipe.
Cornmeal basically has 2 functions to add flavor and to add texture.
If you have a recipe that requires the cornmeal flavor, substitute it with corn products.
If it requires the cornmeal texture then consider all products with a similar texture.
Also, if you are allergic to corn, go for products without corn.
1. Corn grits
This is a corn product that is among the best substitute for cornmeal. They are small bits of corn that are finely ground. It’s easy to confuse the two because of the way they look. However, grits are slightly larger than cornmeal.
This means that it will give you both the texture and flavor. The grits and cornmeal are almost the same so for some recipes, you may use the same measurement to substitute.
However, when making a batter, reduce the amount slightly this will balance it since the grit is slightly coarse. Use the regular grit or hominy grit.
This features stone ground corn from non-GMO corn. It will not only give your meal the texture but also the rich flavor. It retains its natural oils since its ground using the traditional stone mill. It further involves no chemical processing.
The product is a blend of smooth, creamy delicious and full of flavor flour. Having been produced in a gluten-free environment, the product contains no gluten traces since it also naturally contains no gluten. With this product, nothing is added neither taken away.
This is another ground corn. There are areas where they still call cornmeal as polenta but, they are different. The polenta features all the textures form fine to medium and to coarse.
You can use it interchangeably with your cornmeal and at a full ratio when medium ground, however, when it’s coarse, use a reduced amount to cover for the cornmeal texture.
Cornmeal vs polenta
The ideal difference is that the polenta is a dish from Italy. It’s a porridge that is made using ground cornmeal. Today aside from Italy, people refer to a particular kind of cornmeal as polenta. The polenta is from a type of corn called flint. It usually has a hard center which is starchy.
The polenta’s granular texture remains even after cooking it.
The polenta is mostly made using yellow corn.
Cornmeal, on the other hand, is made when you grind corn kernel. It’s made using white yellow or blue corn.
This features a finely ground yellow cornmeal. This is a delicious choice that you serve as a base for sauces, veggies and meats. It offers its crumbly texture and the corn flavor to your cakes and muffins. You can also use it in place of breadcrumbs to give you a gluten free recipe.
3. Corn flour
Note that corn flour is different from cornmeal. Its texture is finer than the cornmeal texture. It will work best if you are after the delicious corn flavor. However, stay aware that the substitute will give you a light finished product.
Let’s just say that, since the cornmeal is a finer ground version of grits and polenta the cornflour is a finer version of cornmeal. It must be the finest version of corn flour available today.
Cornmeal vs corn flour
- For most people, the difference between this two is so minute that people think they are the same. In fact, there are places where people interchangeably use the name cornmeal and corn flour. This is especially true for the finer cornmeal.
- The corn flour is very fine while the cornmeal may be slightly coarse.
- Corn flour is mostly just white in color while the cornmeal is usually white, yellow or blue. The white version is common in Africa and parts of Asia but the yellow on has its origin in America.
- The corn flour has a strong aftertaste which makes it unsuitable for thickening. The taste is strong enough to destroy the entire flavor of the soup or sauce.
- Cornmeal is a ready food in some countries while cornflour isn’
This is made when you grind the corn kernel into a fine powder. It’s kosher certified and suitable for those with the celiac disease. It’s completely natural without extra additives.
4. Masa harina
This is a kind of corn flour that will make your tortilla. It’s made using corn kernel that you soak in lime water to remove the hull. It also means dough flour and its mostly used to make tortillas and tamales.
Being a product that’s made from corn flour you can use it in place of cornmeal in some recipes. The only difference is that it has some lime in it which means the taste will be a little different.
This easy to use flour is gluten-free and made in a gluten free environment. It’s kosher certified and best suited for vegans. Use it to make your tortillas and tamale.
The good thing about substituting the cornmeal is that you may use the normal rice or wheat flour. This is effective if you aren’t interested in the corn flavor. You may the flour either for your baking or mix wheat flour with ground flour to give you the coarse texture.
USES OF CORNMEAL
Most people know cornmeal because of its use in making a soft and buttery bread. However, cornmeal has other uses aside from making your bread. This runs from your breakfast to dinner and more so, used to make desserts.
- Use to make pancakes
Pancakes are tasty, soft and delicious even with the basic recipes. But, we always welcome a few alterations and additions if to make it even better. For a cornmeal pancake, the recipe is even easier, you mix the cornmeal with boiling water then add milk to make a loose batter.
Lastly, add some oil to give it a silky texture. Then use your skillet or non-stick pans to cook. You expect it to have a savory and sweet flavor with crispy edges.
- Used for coating
There’s nothing so gratifying than a crispy and crunchy coating on your favorite chicken, fillets among other meals. It doesn’t matter whether you are frying or baking, the cornmeal will give you a super coat. You can use it for your potato recipes, fish, chicken and veggies.
These are easy to make at home and they are delicious snacks. When you add cornmeal, they are bound to give you a crunchy and crispy texture.
- A polenta
Now, this you will find on your tables for breakfast way to dinner. It takes about 30 minutes to make an amazing cornmeal made creamy polenta on the table. It’s the best cushion for your sautéed veggies, fried eggs and other meals.
- Use them for your pastries
Its versatility is at a great level. You may use it for muffins, biscuits, cakes and even cookies.
When making your pizza, if you love a thin and crispy pizza crust then cornmeal is your flour of choice. It will naturally add the crunch.
There are hundreds of recipes that use cornmeal especially the sweets so don’t only focus on making the cornbread with it.
BENEFITS OF EATING CORNMEAL
Here’s to safe cooking. Cornmeal best serves those who suffer from celiac disease. Unlike the usual wheat flour, this one is made from corn kernel and doesn’t contain gluten. It’s beneficial because it offers various nutrients.
- Home of starch
This is the major component of the cornmeal where a cup of cornmeal contains about 94 grams of carbs. In fact, it makes up to 75% of the calorie content.
- Source of fiber
In each 3.5 ounces of cornmeal, you have 9.4 grams of fiber. This is 38% of the 25 grams of fiber that a woman needs and 25% of the 38 grams of fiber that a man needs. The fiber nature in the cornmeal is a dietary fiber.
The fiber is good since it keeps you full while aiding in digestion. Fiber prevents diabetes, heart diseases and obesity.
- A home of minerals
For every 3.5 ounces of cornmeal, you have 3 mg of irons, 3.1 mg of zinc and 2.5 mg of niacin. Iron helps to keep your immune system healthy while nourishing your red blood cells and zinc, on the other hand, helps to heal the injuries quickly.
You also receive potassium, magnesium and phosphorus in minimal quantities.
- You can use cornmeal to cook
Whenever you have recipes that call for wheat flour you can choose cornmeal instead to avoid the gluten. Worry not because your baked dishes will have the smooth texture or crunchy one if necessary. Consider using corn tortillas, tacos and fajitas as the healthier choice as opposed to wheat flour options.
Most of these products are best preserved in a freezer. This is especially so for the ones made using the whole grain corn. Alternatively, keep them in an airtight container on your pantry and in a reasonably cold environment. They may stay for between 6 months to 2 years if you store them properly.
TIPS OF CONSIDERATION
Whenever you are using either the cornmeal or its substitute, follow the tips below for easy usage.
- All your substitutes will have a different consistency and taste. Although you may have the measurements to use when substituting, you might not reach the finished product you are after. Therefore, allow yourself to experiment and find the measurement that works for you.
- If you are cooking your liquids and need to substitute, consider the finer options as they will quickly blend.
- Store any cornmeal substitute in an airtight container and in a cool dark place.
- Use it for coating and making sweets.
As you may have noticed, the list of cornmeal substitutes is endless but it requires you to know what function you want the cornmeal to add to your meal. For me, corn grits work every time as a substitute.