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Sunday, March 17, 2013

Gluten Free Blue, Organic Cornmeal Salsa Bread (and using coarsely ground cornmeal)

Winter Locavore #4: Using organic, local cornmeal

Free of gluten, soy, nuts, eggs, sugar and dairy

This is pretty cool.  Not only is blue cornmeal absolutely gorgeous and just neat all around, but this salsa bread was sweet and savory and I seriously can't stop eating it!!

You don't need to use blue cornmeal for this, but it does add a nifty purple hue to the inside of the bread that contrasts beautifully with the bright orange top. 

In the process of playing around with this cornmeal, I learned some things about using both blue and yellow coarsely ground corn meal that might be useful for others. 

I've decided to add this to the winter locavore series (even though winter is rapidly coming to an end!) because I think it's a good example that being a locavore doesn't always mean just eating local produce.  Local foods, such as grains, meat, cheese, etc can be had in winter. 

First, why organic cornmeal?

By now I think most of us know that genetically modified organisms (GM food) are unnatural at best and deadly at worst.  GM Corn and soy are probably two of the worst offenders, as these are relatively new foods with few long term studies done on their potentially dangerous side effects.  That is, except this French study that was released last fall that showed rats developed enormous tumors and organ damage after consuming GM corn.

We know that large companies (such as He Who Shall Not Be Named but rhymes with consanto) use cancer causing pesticides and fertilizers to feed their GM products, which destroy the soil and environment, and kill bees.  Put simply, without bees, plants don't get pollinated.  Without plants, well what are you going to eat?

The problem is that GM corn has become a staple in today's diet, and because it's cheap (thanks to gov't subsidies) it's in everything.

I've personally tried to move away from using GM corn products (i.e. canned corn, popcorn kernels, cornstarch and cornmeal).  I'm still looking for a good alternative for cornstarch in large amounts - arrowroot and tapioca starch only seem to thicken things in smaller amounts - but I've managed to eliminate most corn products except for those I can get organic. 

So where can you find organic cornmeal? 

I've been very lucky to find TWO sources of both organic and local cornmeal from two different suppliers near Madison, Wisconsin.

1) My local co-op (Willy Street Co-op) periodically carries organic blue cornmeal when it's available.  They also carry stone ground organic yellow cornmeal. 

  ** If you're looking for organic BLUE cornmeal and can't find it locally, Arrowhead Mills carries it, and you can find it at a local health food store, or on their website or other suppliers like Amazon. Organic YELLOW cornmeal can be found from a variety of suppliers, including Arrowhead Mills, Hodgson Mill, King Arthur, etc.  

Organic Blue Corn Meal

2) My local farmer's market (Dane County Farmer's Market).  There has, from time to time, been a supplier called Hickory Hill that sells organic yellow corn meal at the market.  As you can see from the label, though, it is processed in a facility that processes wheat, so if you're celiac or very sensitive you'll want to keep that in mind.  

Is there a difference with using organic cornmeal?

Personally I've noticed a difference. In both the cornmeals from different suppliers I've found them to be more coarsely ground than the cheap-o GM cornmeal.  I realize this is due to the grinding process, and that you can probably find more finely ground organic cornmeal (the commercial ones may be finer for all I know). 

But if your corn meal is more coarsely ground, you'll probably need to make some adjustments.  

I've found that soaking the corn meal in the liquid you'll be baking it with prior to baking will help to soften it.  Also, you'll probably have to adjust the amount of water you use somewhat.  I've found I actually need less liquid than usual, as the cornmeal seems to absorb less liquid.  

So far I've had very little luck making polenta with any of my organic corn meal.  This has been a bit disappointing.  I've been fiddling with using less water and cooking longer, but so far my polenta attemps have created mostly purple mush.  Tasty mush, mind you, but still mush.  My last batch came close to polenta, but not quite.  If anyone has suggestions I'd love to hear them.  

I'm on the lookout for a more finely ground organic corn meal in the hopes that it will help! 

Blue vs Yellow Corn Meal?

Is there a difference?  To be honest I haven't noticed all that much, except for the lovely colour.  It is said that blue corn meal is sweeter than yellow.  Maybe it is.   

The salsa cornbread below sure is addictive, maybe the blue cornmeal has something to do with it. 

Organic Blue (or Yellow) Corn Meal Salsa Bread


3/4 c corn meal
3/4 c milk of choice (regular, rice milk, etc)
1/4 c + 1 Tbsp prepared salsa

1 flax egg (1 Tbsp ground flax mixed with 2 Tbsp water), or 1 beaten egg

2/3 c brown rice flour (or sorghum) 
1/2 c potato or tapioca starch
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
2 tsp GM corn free baking powder
1/2 tsp salt 

1/4 c honey
1/4 c olive or coconut oil

1 Tbsp butter or coconut oil


1. Mix the corn meal, milk and salsa together and let rest 15 minutes while you prepare the other ingredients.  

2.  Prepare your flax egg, or regular egg. 

3. In a large bowl, mix your dry ingredients together, from brown rice to salt.  

4.  To the dry ingredients, add the honey, olive or coconut oil, flax egg and corn meal salsa mix.  Beat until smooth.  

5.  Using the butter or coconut oil, grease an 8" skillet or 8" square baking dish.  Pour batter into the dish and bake for approximately 45 minutes at 400F, until the top is crusty, and a knife inserted in the centre comes out clean.  

I love this with a big chunk of cheese!!  

Do you use organic / coarsely ground cornmeal?  I'd love to hear your experiences with it!  

This post was shared on the following great link parties: Waste Not Want Not Wednesday, Musings of a Housewife, My Meatless Monday, Melt in Your Mouth Monday, Monday Mania, Mostly Homemade Mondays, Natural Living Monday, Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, Traditional Tuesdays, Fat Tuesdays, Hearth and Soul Tuesday Blog Hop, Gluten Free Wednesdays, Allergy Free Wednesdays, Whole Foods Wednesday, Foodie Friday, Fresh Bites Friday, Farm Girl Blog Fest             


  1. Beautiful! Can't wait to try out the blue cornmeal, and I feel good knowing it's organic.

  2. Thank you for this recipe! I make all of our bread now and we are doing our best to go completely organic! I am hosting today at my site and I am giving a $15 gift card away for the person with the most likes! Swing by if you can!

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Heather. I'll come check it out :)

  3. It is beautiful corn bread! And I do like the color contrast between the crust and the inside. I've noticed you're sprouting some of your ingredients (like the lentil bread). I'm giving that a try too, and liking it. Lynaea @

    1. I've been a little lazy lately and sprouting less, but I have a few more concoctions I'd like to try and sprout up ;) I'm glad you're enjoying growing ingredients!

  4. I completely hear you about how bad regular corn is ... I can't believe we are having so much trouble just about labeling GMO foods? Your recipe looks really delicious. Thanks so much for sharing it with us on foodie friday.

    1. Hi Diane, yes, it's bizarre that it's so difficult to have food labeled as GMO. I *try* (when I can find them) to buy foods that have been labeled as GMO free through the non-GMO project :)

  5. It's very hard to get cornmeal here in the UK at all, and I have never seen the coloured varieties. The kind we get is generally very fine, and is often sold as polenta. I would much prefer to use organic cornmeal and I really hope that it starts to become more easily available. When I can get cornmeal I do love using it in breads though. Your Cornmeal Salsa Bread really does sound addictive! I agree it must be lovely with cheese, and I'd also serve it as a side for so many other dishes too. Thank you for sharing this post with us at the Hearth and Soul hop.

    1. Hi April, thanks for hosting :) It might not be local and super eco-friendly, but you could probably find an online supplier of organic cornmeal that would ship to you...

  6. Thank you for sharing. I am not much of a baker but I will have to try this. Have you ever tried any Bavarian Breads? I just had the wheat free bread and it is scrumptious. Would you care to share any GF or WF premade breads you enjoyed? Cause like I said, I am no baker.

    1. Hi Gwensans, thanks for stopping by. I generally make my own using the recipes I share here but when I do buy bread, I like Rudi's as their breads are GF, GMO free and healthy :)

  7. is it possible to purchase a grinder and grin it down to a finer meal


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