Grits are the most common food item in North America. There are several variants of the delicious gelatinous cornmeal blend widely used throughout the globe. Cornmeal, for instance, is the leading food in East African nations such as Kenya, in which it is used to produce ugali and uji.. Still, the word “grits” usually refers to a food product originating in the Southern US. And that’s the version we’re talking about in this article.
Are they vegan, huh? Grits are 100 percent vegan at their most basic form. It is just boiled cornmeal, namely, hominy corn. The corn is boiled until the grits are softened and gelatinized.
Another interesting side note is that this article is referring to hominy grits. However, the word “grits” may refer to something like a number of a grain of cereal. Pearled barley, for instance, can be used for barley grits.
Pearled barley is extracted from the pearls that extract the seed, the bran, as well as other parts of the endosperm, offering the finished item a polished pearl-like color.
Pearl barley can then be toasted and split into particles. Cornmeal mixtures often pointed to as “hot pudding” or “mush” (like the ugali described above) are generally made with corn that is a little more finely ground than grits.
Although this article is referring to grits, finely ground cornmeal mushrooms may be assumed to be like that in spite of vegan-friendliness. The main ingredients are the same thing.
So, yeah, I’m being asked a little about the vegan kindness of hominy grits.
It’s possible as they have a spongy texture.
Whenever a foodstuff has a spongy texture, you need to ask whether or not these animal products were required to achieve it.
So, what we’re going to do here is go over the multiple reasons that grits are considered vegan.
Table of Contents
Why Grits Are Considered Vegan
Grits produce their signature texture without the need for animal products, namely, through a process called gelatinization.
Never let the “gelatin” word scare you away.
Gelatinization is essentially a mechanism where the intermolecular bonds of starch molecules continue to disintegrate once exposed to water and high temperatures.
It leads to more water being applied to hydrogen bonding areas, which produces a gel-like texture.
The term hominy applies to the expanded kernels of hulled corn that had the germ and bran extracted. The white hominy corn endosperm is immersed in lees and then washed, which allows it to enlarge.
Corn is handled with alkali in a process called “nixtamalization,” with pericarp removed a fancy way to say that corn is undergoing a method to help eliminate aflatoxins and other contaminants.
Dry corn is then finely ground into tiny, uniform pieces, which are then cooked and eaten as a breakfast dish.
Non-Vegan Applications of Grits
Only because food is called vegan in itself; this does not mean that every application of food is appropriate for vegans.
Shrimp and Grits
Shrimp is a common counterpart to grits, particularly in the south of the United States, where the commodity is served in seafood restaurants.
The seafood restaurant I grew up frequenting (before becoming vegan) often served grits, usually with shrimp, fish, and other seafood.
It’s a ubiquitous Southern dish. Each version uses regular grits, cheese as well as other milk products.
This is the most used element that transforms vegan food into a non-vegan dish.
Fortunately, it is an easy solution. When you order in a cafã©, you’ll want to inquire for margarine — ensure it’s plant-based. If they don’t have margarine, you can just order plain grits.
If you’re creating your grits, just use water for boiling (not milk) and milk-free vegetable margarine.
I claim “dairy-free” as there are a lot of vegetable butter spreads out there that contain milk derivatives. So, you’re certainly going to want to check the label.
This one’s not as popular as plain old grits or butter, but you will run into it from time to time when you order grits in restaurants or look for recipes.
Essentially, it’s just grits soaked in milk rather than beer.
When you order in a restaurant, just ask that your grits be made in water only. When you’re making your own, cook your grits in water or your favorite vegetable milk.
Commercial Vegan Grits
Almost all the pure grits you’ll find are going to be ideal for vegan consumption. Your simple manufactured pre-packaged grits should include hominy corn together with vitamin fortification.
For instance, Quaker Instant Grits (plain) comprises specially formulated white corn grits, salt, minerals (reduced iron and calcium carbonate), B vitamins (niacin, thiamin mononitrate, folic acid, and riboflavin), BHT and citric acid (as preservatives).
A fairly standard list of ingredients based on my own experience.
As most of the grits are made up of corn and micronutrient fortification, it would be easier to list the types that are off-limits for vegans.
Quaker Oats has a combo pack you’re going to want to stay away from.
This includes butter, three kinds of cheese, and cheddar cheese flavors. The flavor of butter, although it does not contain real butter, does include whey protein.
Cheese flavors include whey protein or cheddar cheese, a mixture of milk, bacterial cultures, salt, and enzymes.
This is because of the vegan status of the grits.
Thank you so much for reading.
You may also want to check out the following related articles:
- Cornmeal. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cornmeal
- The Surprisingly Recent Story Of How Shrimp and Grits Won Over the South. Robert Moss – http://www.seriouseats.com/2014/08/shrimp-and-grits-southern-food-history.html
- Understanding Food: Principles and Preparation (Page 354). Amy Brown – Wadsworth Cengage Learning – 2011
- Nixtamalization. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nixtamalization
- Understanding Food: Principles and Preparation (Page 353). Amy Brown – Wadsworth Cengage Learning – 2011
- Quaker Instant Grits, Original, Value Pack, 22 Packets. Tammy K- Bess – https://www.walmart.com/ip/Quaker-Instant-Grits-Original-Value-Pack-22-Packets/37643095
- Quaker Instant Grits, Butter, 1 Oz Packets, 12 Count. TLC1983- Squiggy- dixies2cats- Ponytales- watts4664 – https://www.walmart.com/ip/Quaker-Instant-Grits-Butter-1-oz-Packets-12-Count/10312472
- Quaker Instant Grits, Cheddar Cheese, 1 Oz Packets, 12 Count. Stella T-Nancy A – https://www.walmart.com/ip/Quaker-Instant-Grits-Cheddar-Cheese-1-oz-Packets-12-Count/10312479