What Is Hominy And What Does It Taste Like?

Unless you were a real corn fanatic, you probably wouldn't know that there are six types of corn kernels that can be found in the United States: dent, flint, flour, pop, sweet, and waxy. Sweet corn on the cob is what you'd be serving at barbecues or during mealtimes; dent corn is what producers use to make chips and tortillas, as well as bourbon and moonshine; while flint corn is what gets turned into corn flour, grits, and hominy.

Flint corn is hard — very hard. In fact, it is so hard that this type corn would be impossible to eat off the cob, because it would take more than a good boil to make flint corn easy to chew. So in order to make hominy, The Spruce Eats states that producers give flint corn an extended bath in an alkaline solution which strips the grain of its hull and its germ. It also causes kernels to puff up, making it look like bigger versions of themselves. 

Is hominy healthier than corn?

Because flint corn and sweet corn are kissing cousins, we'd expect that hominy's nutrition profile wouldn't be too different from that of sweet corn. When hominy is cooked up as grits, Healthline says a cup offers up four grams of protein, one gram of fat, and 38 grams of carbs, and it's high in folate (25 percent of the daily recommended intake or RDI), thiamine (18 percent of RDI), niacin (13 percent of RDI), and riboflavin (13 percent of RDI). By contrast, Healthline reveals that a cup of sweet yellow corn packs 5.4 grams of protein, 2.1 grams of fat, and 41 grams of carbs, as well as thiamine (24 percent of RDI) and folate (19 percent of RDI).

Eat This, Not That! explains the small differences in the nutrition profiles between sweet corn and hominy as being caused by the alkali bath that the latter undergoes, also known as "nixtamalization." The process is said to trigger the release of vitamin B3 or niacin, so our bodies can absorb it more easily.

Where would I find hominy in the grocery store and what do I do with it?

Hominy is easy to recognise in its near-indigestible state, because you see it displayed everywhere as decorative corn to celebrate the coming of fall. As an ingredient, you'd find it in the canned food section of the grocery store, as well as a dried grain. Hominy can also be found ground up and ready to be made into grits. If you're trying to decide between white and yellow hominy, know that both are similar, although Food and Nutrition points out that yellow hominy will be sweeter. Canned hominy is ready to eat, while dried hominy needs to be soaked for a few hours before it is ready to be used. You'll also be able to find ground hominy, either plain or flavored, which will be ready to cook up into grits topped with cheese and bacon.

Whole hominy is an important ingredient in Mexican cooking and is added to soups and stews like posole and menudo; ground hominy is also added to a drink called atole.