Appears in

The New Vegetarian

The New Vegetarian

By Colin Spencer

Published 1986

  • About

Corn kernels

Corn meal

Cracked maize



An extremely versatile grain that yields many useful products. Available as whole or cracked grains, it comes in many varieties and has several by-products: flint corn is used as animal feed; dent corn, a hard variety, is ground into meal and flour; popcorn has a hard outer covering which stores water (it is this which pops when heated); flour corn has a thin outer layer to its seeds from which cornflour/cornstarch is made. It is low in nutrients, but a good thickening agent. Cornflour/cornstarch is a finely ground form of corn meal used mainly for sauces and thickening soups and stews. When mixed into a cream and boiled it will form a clear jelly. Corn meal when ground to a powder can be made into porridge, or used in cakes, desserts and pancakes. Polenta is similar to, but has a fine, granular texture that is more like semolina. In Italy the name is also given to the dish made form it. It can be served as a vegetable accompaniment, fried or grilled, or, alternatively with any sauce. Sweetcorn is used as a vegetable. Wholemeal corn has a low gluten content, so it will not leaven bread. It can be used for sprinkling over bread before baking, or scattered on the greased surface of the loaf tin or baking sheet, to aid removal.