Hominy is the term used for corn that does not have the germ. Hominy is either ground or whole. Hominy is usually boiled until it is cooked. It can then be served as a cereal or as a vegetable. Another way of serving hominy is by pressing the kernels into patties and then frying it. This particular dish is very popular in the southern part of the United States. Another name for hoiny is samp. When hominy is ground into smaller grains, it is sometimes referred to as hominy grits.
The American colonists used both hominy and samp when referring to processed corn. Because the colonists were not familiar with corn, they had to learn the techniques on how to make the grains edible from the Indians. The way the pioneers prepared the hominy is by soaking the hominy kernels in a weakly concentrated wood based lye and waiting until the hulls would float.
During the early days, people would often keep samp mill and an ash hopper in their kitchens to make it easier to prepare hominy. The samp mill was a huge mortar and pestle that was made from a tree stump – which serves as the mortar, and a block of wood – which serves as the pestle. The pestle hung from a tree branch that acted like a spring. The function of the samp mill is to crack the dried corn kernels and turn them into a coarse meal. The ash hopper, on the other hand, was a wooden funnel in the shape of a V. Wood ashes were placed on the funnel and water allowed to pass through it in order to create lye. The lye is what is used in order to soften the hulls of the corn kernels and, thus, make hominy.