6. Making Hominy by Boiling in a pH 13 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 boiling lye and provides results that aren't any better than the safer recipe using pickling lime. The boiling lye is prone to boil over and generates noxious fumes so it's best done outdoors.
Read the background material on the main page before starting this recipe.
This is an old-time recipe which uses three times as much lye as the pH 12 simmering recipe and the resultant pH is about 13--which is 10 times stronger. The time to the first rinse is reduced from 4 hours to 50 minutes--that indicates how much stronger this solution is! This recipe is prone to boiling over.
Lye crystals are very dangerous until they are diluted in water. Always use goggles and gloves while handling, or measuring the crystals. Even then, you need to make sure there is no eye contact with the lye-water 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.
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.
This recipe uses three times as much lye as the pH 12 recipe and the pH is 13--which is 10 times stronger. 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 8 cups of cold water in a large stainless steel or enamelware pot. This recipe is prone to boiling over due to starch from the corn dissolving in the water. It happened to me in a 10 qt pot. Fortunately, I was cooking it outdoors over a camp stove.
2. Add 1 Tablespoon of Food Grade Lye and stir carefully to avoid splashing. This will make a solution with a pH of approximately 13 that must be treated with respect.
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 the Lye isn't pure white (has metal flakes, or any specks), it's not suitable!
3. Bring to a Boil--Outdoors is best! Boil vigorously for 30 minutes. Avoid breathing the fumes. Watch for boil-overs as starch from the corn dissolves in the water.
4. Turn off the heat and let rest for 20 minutes
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.