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Corn Glossary

Corn Glossary

Corn Husks, Dried
Dried corn husks (outer leaves) used to wrap tamales, sold packaged in specialty and Mexican stores. Corn husks are not meant to be eaten, but they give the tamales a deeper corn flavor.

Cornmeal
Any meal ground from dried corn, whether made from yellow, white or blue corn; fine, medium or coarse in texture; ground by millstones or steel rollers; and with or without the corn's husk and germ included.

Grits
A ground meal of yellow or white hominy, cooked like cornmeal into a thick porridge.

Hominy
Mildly sweet-tasting, firm-textured kernels of dried white or yellow corn that have been soaked in a lye solution to slough off their hulls.

Polenta
Italian-style cornmeal, cooked in either water or stock until it becomes thick and porridgelike.

Popcorn
A type of corn that, because of its composition and ratio of protein to starch, "pops" through its outer skin and expands when heated.

Samp
Dried hominy that has been broken into large pieces or pounded into coarse meal, less refined than grits. Grits can be used in place of samp in most recipes.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Kitchen Companion, (Time-Life Books, 2000).