Turns out I neglected to take part of my allotment last week: a two pound bag of either whole wheat flour, cornmeal or polenta from Castle Valley Mill! Gerry chose the polenta which led to a whole discussion about the difference between cornmeal and polenta and to what extent they were interchangeable. When I started Googling for some definitive answers, I just got more confused, so I emailed the mill. Mark Fischer mailed me back and said:
It’s all the same Bucks County corn. The difference is in the size of the granules. We call the Grits (if you are from the south)/ Polenta (Italian tradition) the product that has a larger diameter nugget. This gives more texture or “tooth” in foodie terms. The cornmeal is more fine in texture, and makes an excellent creamy polenta if that is your preference. When it comes to grits, you will also hear the terms “hominy grits” and yellow or white grits. Hominy is made by soaking the kernels in lye in order to remove the hulls. I don’t do this, but the scalping machine I use , the August Wolf No. 1 Single Sieve Scalper, does a really good job of mechanically culling much of the hulls that are not ground up. White and Yellow are simply the color of the corn, and I hear from tribal knowledge that there really is no difference in taste. Bucks County grows exceptional yellow Dent variety, so we make yellow grits.
I feel much better having the information straight from the source!
Mark also tipped me off to their Facebook page which, in turn, led to some polenta recipes that look absolutely amazing! Check out this recipe for polenta fries. Can't wait to try that!