Fermented cornmeal can be used to make delicious cornbread, grits or polenta – it’s a wonderful way to add a flavor dimension to cornbread!
Fermenting cornmeal isn’t something that’s on anyone’s radar – at least I don’t think so. But if anything, it’s a great way to improve the nutritional value of something that can be pretty hard to digest.
Cornmeal is a meal made from dried maize (corn) that ranges in texture from fine to coarse grounds. It is a staple in most households… especially those who enjoy eating cornbread. Cornmeal that is ground very fine is known as corn flour, which is something that is used to make homemade tortillas and tamales in many households as well.
Why Ferment Cornmeal?
The body can struggle to absorb nutrients from cornmeal. As a result, it can be hard for the body to digest. Aztec and Mayan civilizations historically used a process that used lime to break down corn for making masa flour.
Fermenting is close to that process… not only does it add an additional depth of flavor, it allows the nutrients to be more readily absorbed. It also reduces the aflatoxins from contaminated corn.
Cornmeal ferments relatively quickly as well. I would recommend fermenting for 8-10 hours, or even better, overnight as you sleep. Though you can go longer (24 hours), there really isn’t a need to as 8 hours is usually sufficient.
How to Use Fermented Cornmeal
After your cornmeal has fermented, use it in your favorite cornbread recipe. Dump it out of the jar into a large bowl. Then, add a few additional ingredients before baking.
The soaking liquid will count as a portion of the liquid in your recipe. Then bake just as you would regular cornbread.
- 1.75 C cornmeal coarse
- 1 C milk kefir see notes for other options
- 1 C water see notes
- Mix the cornmeal with the liquid in a large glass jar.
- Cover the jar with a piece of fabric, towel or coffee filter and leave it on the kitchen counter anywhere from 8-10 hours.
- The cornmeal should show large air pockets/bubbles over the 8-10 hour time period. Cornmeal can be fermented up to 24 hours if needed.
- Or substitute milk kefir or buttermilk for the entire amount of liquid.
- Cornmeal breaks down best with a lactic culture - ie. buttermilk, yogurt whey or kefir.
- When you are ready to cook the cornmeal, use your favorite cornmeal recipe. Count the soaking liquid as the liquid in the recipe - adding additional if needed.
Did you try fermented cornmeal? If so, please take a minute to rate the recipe above, and feel free to tag me at @RebootedMom in your Instagram post!