Intriguingly soured and swollen by the process used to create it, the corn product known as hominy has a taste and texture that sets it apart from canned sweet corn. Made by boiling unhulled dried corn kernels in an alkaline solution, hominy requires time and patience to soften the kernels and strip them of their germ and bran. Lye is traditionally used to process hominy, but the extremely caustic material can be dangerous for the home cook to work with. Instead, use baking soda as your alkaline material.
Fill a large stockpot no more than three-quarters full of water. Use a ratio of 2 parts water for every 1 part dried corn.
Sprinkle in baking soda at a rate of 2 tablespoons for every 1 quart of dried corn.
Set the burner on high and bring the mixture to a boil. Stir the water to dissolve the baking soda, then add the dried corn.
Boil the dried corn for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn off the heat and let the corn stand for 20 additional minutes.
Drain the corn kernels. Set the colander under hot running water for several minutes, shaking the colander so that all of the corn is thoroughly rinsed.
Refill the stockpot and turn the burner to high.
Turn the faucet nozzle to the cool setting, and begin to rinse the corn with cool water. Under cool running water, use your fingers to loosen the hulls from the kernels. Put the hulled kernels into a second colander as you finish them.
Rinse the hulled kernels to rid them of remaining debris, paying special attention to the stubborn tips.
Boil and drain the corn kernels one or two more times to remove all of the remaining hull matter.
Cook hominy right away, or store it for later use.
Cook hominy as you would dried beans. Cover the kernels with water, bring the water to a boil and simmer the kernels until they become tender. Serve them with butter and cheese or a drizzle of olive oil, if desired.
Hominy is a key ingredient in the southwestern stew known as posole. Cook hominy with chicken strips in spicy broth, then top it with fresh chopped vegetables and mild cheese.
Store large batches of hominy for later use by either drying or canning. To dry hominy, set the kernels in the sun on screens or in a dehydrator and dry them until there is no moisture left in the kernels, then store in airtight containers.
To can hominy, the National Center for Home Preservation recommends putting cooked hominy in sterilized jars with a spoonful of canning salt and enough hot water to cover the hominy by 1 inch. Process the jars in a pressure canner set to 10 to 11 pounds pressure, 60 minutes for pint jars and 70 minutes for quart jars.
Wear gloves when working with the baking soda solution to avoid irritation. Make sure the corn kernels are well-rinsed before you begin working them with your fingers.