Difference Between Cornmeal and Corn Flour

Cornmeal vs Corn Flour

Cornmeal and cornflour, made from ground corn also known as maize, are two ingredients that are commonly used in the culinary world. However, different recipes call for the different use of these ingredients and, therefore, it is important that one discerns the difference between the two.  

What is Cornmeal?

Cornmeal, ground from dried maize (corn), is a rough flour that is a staple food available in coarse, medium and fine consistencies. Very finely ground corn is referred to as corn flour in the USA while in the United Kingdom, corn flour often denotes corn starch, whereas cornmeal is known as polenta. Cornmeal that is finely ground is known as maize flour and is used for making bread or tortillas.

There are several types of cornmeal out of which steel ground yellow cornmeal is the most commonly used variety in the United States. In this product, the germ and the husk of the maize kernel has been almost completely removed. Because of this, this flour if stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place can be preserved for about a year.

Stone-ground cornmeal containing some of the germ and hull is more nutritious and lends more flavour in recipes. White cornmeal also known as mielie-meal made out of white corn that is common in Africa is popularly used for making bread in the  Southern United States. Blue cornmeal featuring a pleasant light blue or a violet colour is ground to a fine or medium texture from whole blue corn and features a sweet flavour.

Cornmeal is used in various recipes, in different countries. One popular use for cornmeal is in making cornbread while it is also used for making porridge, tortillas or puddings. It is often used as a substitute for wheat flour and is a popular gluten free option when it comes to baking.

What is Corn Flour?

Corn flour, also known as maize starch or corn starch, is derived from the endosperm of the maize or the corn kernel and is a popular ingredient often used for making sugar syrup as well as for thickening soups, gravies, custards and sauces. It is used in batter for frying in order to increase the crispiness of a batter and to increase its absorption of oil. Corn flour is often preferred over flour because of its translucent texture. However, until 1851, it was primarily used for industrial uses such as starching laundry.

Corn flour is also used in powdered sugars as an anti-caking ingredient, and it is also a common ingredient seen in baby powder. However, a common substitute for corn flour is arrowroot which can be used in the same manner as corn starch.   

What is the difference between Corn Flour and Cornmeal?

• Corn flour is derived from the endosperm of the maize or the corn kernel. Cornmeal is the coarsely ground dried maize.

• However, very finely ground cornmeal is referred to as corn flour in the UK while the word corn flour refers to what is usually known as corn starch in USA.

• Cornmeal is usually of a coarse texture. Corn flour is very fine and powdery like.

• Corn flour is used most commonly as a thickening agent for soups, gravies and sauces. Cornmeal is more popularly used for making cornbread.