How to Soak Corn Meal for Better Digestion

Taco Corn Fritters

I’ve shared how to soak wheat flour or oats to aid in digestion. (I’ve also shared that I’m not a die-hard grain soaker, I just do the best I can.)

I’ve been asked several times recently to share how to soak corn meal for easier digestion.  Soaking corn is different from soaking wheat flour or oats.  For some reason I’d never looked into it much.  What, did I think it would be difficult?  FYI – it’s not difficult.  I figured it out after about ten minutes of reading my Nourishing Traditions book on the subject of soaking corn.  I took a few pictures of the process, but really?  They turned out silly.  You do not need a full picture tutorial to show you how to pour pickling lime into water.  Your five year old could do it.

I said all of that to say, “Sorry I didn’t share this four years ago.  It’s not that hard.” 

How to Make Lime Water to Soak Cornmeal:

  1. Pour 1 inch of pickling lime into a half gallon jar.
  2. Fill the jar with water.  Put the lid on the jar because next you need to…
  3. Shake the jar.
  4. Let the jar stand overnight until the lime settles. 
  5. The clear liquid at the top is your Lime Water.
  6. Store in a cool place (but not necessarily the fridge). 

To soak your cornmeal using Lime Water, it seems to me that most of the recipes in the Nourishing Traditions book recommend that you stir together 1 cup of cornmeal with 3/4-1 cup of Lime Water and allow it to sit for 7 hours before stirring in the wheat flour and cultured dairy and then continuing to soak for another 12 hours or so.

Now, just so you know, I shared this because I had some requests, and I’m always happy to learn new things in the kitchen.  Will I be practicing this soaking of cornmeal thing much?  I’m not sure.  I wanted to share the idea with you in case you’d like to look into it more, but I don’t see the huge, incredible benefits to make this worth my efforts.  If YOU see the huge, incredible benefits of soaking the cornmeal each time I make Cornbread or Taco Corn Fritters, please do pass them on.  I’d really love to learn!

What all do you make with cornmeal? 

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Comments

  1. Rachel says

    Thanks for sharing Laura! I have a slightly unrelated question for you… :) Is that allowed??

    Can you share where you get your large glass jars with the plastic lids?? Thanks!

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    I get them from my health food co-op, Azure Standard. I’m planning to look into other sources to hopefully share soon (if I find some!).

    [Reply]

  2. Shannon says

    Thanks Laura! I have Nourishing Traditions but I think that book makes things sound complicated sometimes when it really isn’t so I appreciate your pictures and simple steps! I’ve never soaked corn either.

    [Reply]

  3. Melodya says

    Hmmm… for someone like me who needs to shy away from gluten still, this is a great blogpost I can use. However, I am a total weirdo in that I don’t like anything pickled or vinegar tasting. So, the question is, does this pickling lime stuff have that pickling flavor? And if so, what could I substitue in it’s place?

    Things I made with cornmeal:
    tortillas
    muffins/bread
    a sort of shortbread/graham crust replacement
    brownies
    hush puppies which are the same as your fritters, just balls.

    I use a lot of xanthum gum as with all non-gluten recipes I use.

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    I don’t have much experience using it yet, but I don’t think it leaves a weird taste behind. I have no idea of another option for soaking cornmeal – lime water is the only thing I’ve heard of.

    Hush puppies sounds GOOD!

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    I just re-read your list – you use cornmeal to make brownies!?!?!? How neat! Do you make them just the same as regular brownies and just sub cornmeal for wheat flour?

    [Reply]

    Melodya Reply:

    yes and add some xanthum gum or arrowroot powder to keep them from being too crumbly. I also substitute some of the egg for flaxseed so then I also don’t need to add as much oil!

    I’m guessing that if I soak my cornmeal, I wouldn’t have to use as much xanthum gum because corn also has it’s own protein that if broken down, may possibly act as a elasticator (new made up word :)

    Many storebought cornmeals are “enriched and degerminated” which is why it’s so crumbly! The “germ” or small whitish bottom part of the corn/ grain is the protein and what gives wheat and other grains their elasticity. I ground my own corn once(popcorn kernals) in my blender and it was far less crumbly. However, my sad little blender is not made for that and I did soak my cornmeal in buttermilk since a good cornbread recipe contains buttermilk and my cornmeal was a bit course. I used NO wheat flour which many cornbread recipes call for. The fam liked it, so that’s my gauge.. lol I’m excited to tweak it since now I know soaking cornmeal/flour is a valid thing. I’m excited to look into already limed corn meal/flour.

    [Reply]

    Becky @ Our Peaceful Home Reply:

    I would like this recipe! My gluten free husband might like it too!
    I’d love to hear your brownie cornmeal recipe!

    Rachel Reply:

    No, it doens’t leave any aftertaste.

    Rachel

    [Reply]

  4. Michelle says

    In the Mexican foods section of my grocery store, they sell corn flour that has already been lime treated, so I usually substitute that for cornmeal when I can (for cornmeal pancakes and cornbread). I also use cornmeal for polenta, but you can’t substitute corn flour for that!

    [Reply]

    Melodya Reply:

    I’m going to look for the already treated corn flour. Does it still have it’s nutritional value?

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    Oh yes, I meant to talk about that in my post. It’s called Masa and really tastes pretty much like cornmeal! As far as I know, it is just as nutritious.

    [Reply]

    elaine Reply:

    One of the problems with buying masa is that unless you get an organic brand, you will likely be getting a GMO corn – which we really don’t want.

    Laura Reply:

    Yes, that’s very true. Stinkin’ GMOS!

  5. says

    To soak or not to soak, that is a good question! I’ve never soaked cornmeal — never even thought of it before. Thanks for the food for thought. :)

    I use cornmeal to line my pizza pans and baking sheets when making pizza or sourdough bread. I also use it when making English muffins. The main way that I bake with cornmeal, though, it when I make cornbread for chili or Cornbread Muffins for breakfast. If you’ve never tried cornbread for breakfast, you simply must…so delicious!

    [Reply]

    Lisa @ Happy in Dole Valley Reply:

    …should say, “is when” not “it when.” Note to self: Proofread!! :)

    [Reply]

  6. AmyR says

    Why might one soak corn meal (or wheat flour)? Assuming with oats that it softens them up…maybe that’s why for the others as well?

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    I explained why you’d want to soak wheat flour in detail in this post: http://heavenlyhomemakers.com/what-it-means-to-soak-grains. For cornmeal, it has to do with the “releasing of the Vitamin B3″, which apparently can’t be absorbed into our systems unless the cornmeal has been soaked.

    [Reply]

  7. says

    Maybe this is a really dumb question. But, where do I find pickling lime? Just in the grocery store?

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    I found it in the canning section in Walmart – I’ve seen it at the grocery store also with the canning supplies, vinegars and such for making pickles.

    [Reply]

    susan Reply:

    Thanks for the walmart tip laura, i was wondering the same thing.

    [Reply]

  8. Jennifer says

    Do you rinse after soaking in limewater?

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    No, you can just continue on with the recipe without rinsing it.

    [Reply]

  9. Penny says

    Can you soak in anything other than lime water? Also, is there a way to make the lime water with fresh limes or does it need to be purchased already prepared?

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    I don’t know of anything else – but making lime water is very new to me also! Sorry I can’t be more help!

    [Reply]

  10. Erika says

    Hi ! I’ve never soaked cornmeal before and was trying to figure it out. Thank you !! I wanted to ask you a few questions regarding part of your post comments –> “allow it to sit for 7 hours before stirring in the wheat flour and cultured dairy and then continuing to soak for another 12 hours or so.”<–

    I was confused about that. How would I know how much wheat flour to add (I didn't know I needed wheat flour.. just thought lime water was enough)..?

    I also wanted to know how much cultured dairy to put?

    I grew up eating cornmeal (Goya brand) and My mother used to make it with milk, butter, vanilla extract, sugar and cinnamon. I guess you could call it a sweet porridge? I wanted to get some and make it but I was having trouble finding it offline. The conventional (possibly GMO laden) cornmeal sold in supermarkets is much easier to find than organic cornmeal. I am trying to figure out how to make the sweet porridge from my youth much healthier without compromising the taste too much. Is there any way you can help figure this out(the most neutral soaking medium when you add the wheat flour)?

    I've seen organic corn flour which has been previously soaked in lime (I'm assuming since the ingredients are organic stone ground corn, lime) so maybe that would be the easiest route.. but maybe the corn flour wouldn't make a good cornmeal porridge because it's too finely ground?

    I'm sorry for all of the questions ! I'm not sure if anyone else wondered about any of these things I have brought up. If they did, then maybe it could not only help me, but more people who are having similar difficulties.

    Thank you in advance for any information you can give !

    ~Erika

    [Reply]

    Christine Reply:

    Try “Bob’s Red Mill” brand of products. A lot of markets are
    now carrying that brand.
    I just purchased their “Organic,Medium grind stone ground whole grain
    cornmeal”
    (ie: not degermeinated like 99% of what is out there)
    If you desire a finer grind for some uses, just pop it in
    a clean coffee mill ($10 anywhere) and pulse until you like the
    feel of it.

    [Reply]

  11. John says

    This could save thousands of people.

    Soaking corn in pickling lime makes it way more nutritious. If corn isn’t soaked in lime of any type, then humans can’t absorb corn’s nutrients such as niacin.

    In the 1700’s corn was introduced to the USA, Europe & Africa. It was cheap, so it replaced existing staples. This caused a malnourishment disease called “Pellagra” which soaking corn in lime prevents.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pellagra (direct quote)
    “… Between 1906 and 1940 more than 3 million Americans were affected by pellagra with more than 100,000 deaths… (Today) Pellagra is common in Africa, Indonesia, N. Korea & China…” “

    “Pellagra can be common in people who obtain most of their food energy from maize/corn… If maize/corn is not nixtamalized (soakied in lime), it is a poor source of tryptophan, as well as niacin. Nixtamalization corrects the niacin deficiency… Despite all the knowledge about pellagra… (Angola, Africa 2002) niacin deficiency in 29.4% of women and 6% of children related to high untreated (not soaked in lime) corn consumption…”

    Soaking corn in pickling lime would eliminate worldwide Pellagra malnutrition period.

    If you eat foods with niacin (vitamin B3) you can’t get “Pellagra”. Native N. & S. Americans soaked corn in lime, or ashes from their fires (alkali) for 1000’s of years.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nixtamalization (direct quote)
    “(soaking in alkali)…convert corn’s bound niacin to free niacin, making it available for absorption into the body, thus preventing pellagra… Secondary benefits… increase calcium, iron, copper and zinc… reduces (by 90-94%) mycotoxins… which are putative carcinogens…”

    Other Links:
    Corn, Nixtamalization & Vampires
    http://www.cheeseslave.com/sprouted-polenta/
    http://www.cookingissues.com/2011/03/09/mesoamerican-miracle-megapost-tortillas-and-nixtamalization/
    Technical
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15675150
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15358510

    [Reply]

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