5. Making Hominy by Simmering in a pH 12 Lye Solution
This process makes good hominy. The hulls dissolve before the hominy softens (so no rubbing is necessary) and the taste is good! The drawback is that it uses lye and provides results that are very similar to the safer recipe that uses cooking lime.
Read the background material on the main page before starting this recipe.
Lye crystals are very dangerous until they are diluted in water. Even then, you need to make sure there is no eye contact with the lye solution and that no one ingests it.
The crystals and concentrated solutions cause immediate chemical burns on contact and will quickly eat away skin, eyes, or throat tissue. A stray crystal on the counter or a spoon, will attract moisture from the air and self-dissolve into what looks to be just a drop of water--but's it's just waiting to cause damage on contact. The crystals and concentrated solution will remove the glossy finish on laminate counter tops (such as formica). They etch aluminum and copper.
Storage of the materials is problematic and can cause serious injury to unsuspecting children, spouses, visitors, or pets. Always use goggles and gloves while handling, or measuring the crystals.
In case of contact, flush eyes and skin with water. Vinegar or lemon juice can be used as a neutralizer on skin but not eyes. In case of ingestion, call your local poison control center.
At the pH of 12 used to convert corn to hominy, the solution becomes less dangerous but the risk of ingestion increases. You don't want anyone coming home and sampling your hominy-in-process!
Do not use aluminum or copper pots or utensils. The alkaline solution will eat away at the metal--etching the finish and ruining the hominy. Stainless steel, un-chipped enamelware, and plastic are the materials of choice.
Working with strong alkaline materials is not a group effort or something to share with children or pets. A small crystal falling to the floor can cause them damage. This is something that's best done when no one else is around so you can be in complete control.
Proceed at your own risk--the author accepts no responsibility for any injuries.
1. Remove any broken pieces from 2 cups of corn, and add to 10 cups of cold water in a stainless steel or enamelware pot.
2. Add 1 teaspoon of Food Grade Lye and stir carefully to avoid splashing. This will make a solution with a pH of approximately 12.
Food Grade Lye is most easily found online at suppliers catering to home soap makers.
Non-food grade Lye can sometimes be found in the drain cleaner section at hardware stores. Make sure the can says: 100% Sodium Hydroxide. You do not want DRANO! It has added ingredients and pieces of aluminum. If it isn't pure white (has black specks, etc.), it's not suitable!
3. Soak Corn (2 hours to overnight) Soak by either method detailed on the main page.
4. Simmer the Corn (approximately 2-3 hours) - After soaking, bring to a boil, then slow-simmer for approximately two hours by one of the methods described on the main page. - After the first hour, check and start bite testing kernels every 15 minutes.
The simmering time depends on the variety and possibly the age of the corn. I've found that Jarvis (a heirloom corn) takes about 3 hours. An unnamed organic corn, and Henry Moore Hominy corn both took about 2 hours
5. Dilute and Rinse - When it's done, dilute and rinse per the instructions on the main page.
6. Using the Hominy - Refrigerate the hominy until you're ready to use it. - I usually cook the hominy in broth or sauce for about an hour. That seems to be sufficient time to soften the most reluctant kernels without the others overcooking. Any kernels that dissolve will just thicken the sauce.