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How to cook grains: Corn

Have you seen a recipe that featured grain corn and wasn’t sure how to cook or what it meant? We’ve got your covered below!

Grain corn is not to be confused with sweet corn or popcorn. Grain corn is used to make a variety of foods or ingredients in the grocery store (over 2,500 grocery store items contain corn!) but it is not eaten off the cob or popped for a tasty snack. To use grain corn in your cooking, you can use corn oil, corn starch, cornflour and cornmeal. Today we are going to be looking at how to cook grains and specifically how to use cornflour and cornmeal in your meals.

What types of corn are there?


Cornmeal is dried and ground yellow or white grain corn with textures ranging from fine to coarse. Many recipes will distinguish between how coarse or fine the cornmeal should be. Most types of cornmeal have had the germ and bran removed during processing, but is still high in iron, fibre and phosphorous!  However, stone-ground cornmeal is a whole grain as the bran and endosperm have been left in during milling. Need help figuring out if it’s in fact a whole grain? Look under the ingredients list for a whole grain label!

But isn’t cornmeal polenta? No, polenta is a traditional Italian dish, not an ingredient. Polenta is made from grain corn, and some products at the grocery store are labelled as polenta. When making polenta, look for medium to coarsely ground cornmeal.

Ok, but what are grits then? Grits are traditional Southern dish made from yellow or white cornmeal that is coarsely ground.

Corn flour

Corn flour is simply finely ground cornmeal, and high in magnesium and potassium; two minerals that promote good blood circulation. Corn flour is great for thickening soups or stews, as a breading for fish and can be incorporated into pancake, waffle, bread and other baking recipes!

#TrainWithGrainsTip: Keep cornmeal and cornflour sealed in an airtight container and preferably in a cool place like the refrigerator or freeze. Both can be stored for up to two years in the freezer and six months in the pantry.

How to cook cornmeal and cornflour

There aren’t any special instructions when cooking cornmeal or cornflour, just follow the recipe directions.

If you want to interchange between the two keep in mind the differences. Corn flour is finely ground and therefore less dense than cornmeal.  As such, it would need less time to cook or bake. There isn’t a need to change the amount either- ¼ cornmeal is the same as ¼ corn flour. Also, keep in mind, if you are substituting corn flour for cornmeal, the result will be lighter and fluffier and the batter will also be thinner.  Lastly, there’s no need to change the amount of cornflour in the recipe.

Try making these great cornmeal dishes!