Hominy is made by soaking dry corn in a solution that removes the pericarp from the kernel, this releases the corn’s endocarp to plump up and release its flavor and nutrients. The art of making hominy is as old as pre-columbian time and is well known in the south. Hominy can be fried in butter with some country ham, deep fried (or baked) to make corn nuts, ground into masa to make tortillas or coarsely ground to make grits.
The process, called nixtamalization, uses an alkaline solution of either wood ash lye or lime water made from slaked lime. The alkaline solution dissolves the pericarp from the dried corn kernel, which allows the kernel to plump up and also increases the bioavailability of niacin and protein.
This recipe, by Jennifer Gleason, can also be found on YouTube. There is many variations on the process but the basics are the same, cooking and soaking in an alkaline solution to remove the outer skin on the dried corn kernel.
Start off with dried corn, best to use something like Hickory King White Corn, but you can try it with any dry corn. Remove the kernels from the cob, winnow the corn to remove any chaff.
To Make Lime Water
3 1/2 gallons filtered water
1 1/2 c slaked lime (calcium hydroxide or pickling lime)
Use only stainless, glass or enamel, do not use aluminum pots or utensils. Bring water to a simmer and sprinkle the powdered lime and stir well to mix. Remove from heat, put the lid on and let sit for at least two hours. After sitting the calcium hydroxide separates off in the bottom (white layer). Pour off the clear liquid into another pot and now what you have is lime water.
Add 6 pounds of whole kernel corn to the water. Put back on the stove, bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer, place the lid on and allow to simmer overnight. After simmering, the kernels will swell up to about 3x their size. Pour off the liquid (will be a yellowish color) rinse the corn one to two times (or until the rinse water is clear) to remove the lime water. Refrigerate until use (good for about 1 week) or freeze for up to 3 months in a zip-lock bag.
If you want to make a small batch of hominy, reduce the water to 10 cups and the pickling lime to 1/4 cup, but follow the same instructions for making it. Once you have made your lime water, add 3 cups of dry corn, bring to a boil, then let simmer overnight. A crock pot works great for making hominy.
How to Use Hominy
Great southern dish is to fry the hominy in butter, salt and pepper and add some country ham to the pan. Cook until the hominy gets a little crisp on it.
You can deep fry it to make corn nuts. Just heat up some canola oil and fry the hominy until golden brown. Remove from the oil and let dry on a paper towel to remove some of the oil. Season with salt or your favorite seasonings (barbecue, spicy mix…). If you don’t want to deep fry them you can also just roast them in the oven (at 400°F) coated with a little olive oil, and salt (you can also add some spices).
Make your own homemade tortillas from grinding hominy into masa.