Hominy or nixtamal is dried maize kernels which have been treated with an alkali in a process called nixtamalization.
The English term hominy is derived from the Powhatan language word for maize. Many other Native American cultures also made hominy and integrated it into their diet. Cherokees, for example, made hominy grits by soaking corn in a weak lye solution obtained by leaching hardwood ash with water and beating it with a kanona (ᎧᏃᎾ), or corn beater. The grits were used to make a traditional hominy soup (called ᎬᏃᎮᏅ ᎠᎹᎩᎢ, or Gv-No-He-Nv A-Ma-Gi-i), a hominy soup that was allowed to ferment (ᎬᏫ ᏏᏓ ᎠᎹᎩᎢ) [Gv-Wi Si-Da A-Ma-Gi-i], cornbread, dumplings (ᏗᎫᏅᎢ) [Di-Gu-Nv-i], or, in post-contact times, fried with bacon and green onions.
Some recipes using hominy include menudo (a spicy tripe and hominy soup), pozole or posole (a stew of hominy and pork, chicken, or other meat), hominy bread, hominy chili, hog n' hominy, casseroles and fried dishes. Hominy can be ground coarsely to make hominy grits, or into a fine mash (dough) to make masa, a dough used regularly in Latin American cuisine.
The earliest known usage of nixtamalization was in what is present-day southern Mexico and Guatemala around 1500–1200 BC.
Soaking the corn in lye kills the seed's germ, which keeps it from sprouting while in storage. In addition to preserving the grain as foodstuff, this process also affords several significant nutritional advantages over untreated maize products. It converts some of the niacin (and possibly other B vitamins) into a form more absorbable by the body, improves the availability of the amino acids, and (at least in the lime-treated variant) supplements the calcium content, balancing maize's comparative excess of phosphorus.
Rockihominy, a popular trail food in the 19th and early 20th centuries, is dried corn roasted to a golden brown, then ground to a very coarse meal, almost like hominy grits. Hominy can also be used as animal feed.
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