Cornmeal Mush

Bowl of Cornmeal Mush - Filling Frugal Breakfast

Cornmeal Mush is one of those great frugal breakfast traditions that’s slowly being lost. It’s very similar to grits, though the cornmeal I buy tends to be ground a little finer. You end up with a hot breakfast cereal that’s a little smoother than your regular bowl of grits.

This is very hearty for breakfast, and also makes a nice snack in the middle of the day. I like it with a little margarine and shredded cheese, but it is equally good with sugar or molasses and milk. This recipe serves 4 to 6 people depending on how hungry they are. Of all the breakfast cereals you can buy, this one is the least expensive. We try to have it at least twice a week, sometimes more often because it is so cheap.

How To Make Cornmeal Mush
Ingredients
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup cold tap water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups hot tap water
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, combine the cornmeal and cold tap water.
  2. Meanwhile, in a 2 quart pan, combine the salt and hot water. Bring it to a boil over high heat.
  3. While the water is heating, add the cornmeal mixed with the cold water. Combining the cornmeal with cool water before adding it to the boiling water keeps the cornmeal from lumping up when it hits the hot water.
  4. When the water and cornmeal boil, reduce the heat to low.
  5. Allow the mush to simmer for about 10 minutes, or until it is nicely thickened.

 

 

Bowl of Cornmeal Mush - Filling Frugal Breakfast

If your cornmeal is less than fresh, you may add half a tablespoon of sugar to make it taste fresher and sweeter.

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GAEL MC FADDEN - June 13, 2010

THANKS FOR ALL THE GOOD RECIPES USING CORN MEAL…MY HUSBAND WAS RAISED IN wEST vIRGINIA AND ALWAYS WANTS WHAT HIS MOTHER MADE FOR HIM AS A BOY…YOUR RECIPES SURE HELPED!! KEEP EM COMIN!!! SINCERELY…GAEL MC FADDEN

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    Owen LeMaster - August 10, 2015

    Yea for West Virginia,and this is a very good recipe.I eat it all the time.Thank you

    Reply
Nancy Roberts - June 23, 2010

Put the leftover mush in a loaf pan and let it set up. Slice it into 1/4″ slices, dredge in flour, and fry for FRIED cornmeal mush. We grew up on this and LOVE it!

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Laura - July 13, 2010

I agree with Nancy–I, too, love fried mush! My mom used to make it for me as a special treat when I was a kid, & her grandma (from West Virginia, too!) made it for her when SHE was a kid. She said sometimes it was frying in the skillet when she would come home for lunch when she was in school. Yummy…the crispier, the better!

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Donna - July 20, 2010

Hello from another West Virginia girl (long time ago). My mom made fried mush quite often for breakfast. She fried it in bacon grease of course. I made it for my kids…as a vegetarian I fry in olive oil so it’s not quite as tasty… my kids have made it for their kids and now some of my grandchildren are making it for their kids…Wow long way from WVA and many years but fried mush still gets it. What a treat. Makes me hungry just thinking about it. Oh and don’t call my mush polenta :) Have a happy day…Donna in Florida

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CharlieAnn - July 27, 2010

I am from the north on the Mississippi River and grew up eating fried mush. I still make it today for by family and are daughter makes it for her family too. It is great stuff on a cold winter night. My guys love it just buttered with salt and pepper. I remember my dad eating it with syrup on it. My mother-in-law use to make it with bacon grease. I agree with Donna don’t call it polenta, its cornmeal mush fried.

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Cindi - August 8, 2010

I made this cornmeal mush. I put it in a loaf pan to set up then sliced and fried crispy. Served it with syrup. My family loved it! My Mom said she used to eat it when she was a kid, cold with milk and sugar. Her family is Romanian and they called Mammaliga.

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Terri - August 9, 2010

We do this with Grits down here in Georgia. Corn meal mush has more of a ‘corn” taste to it & white hominy grits ( or yellow) have a more mild flavor that let you taste your condiments better. Just make your grits with the 1 part grits to 4 parts water ratio & then let it set up in a loaf pan slice & fry. Funny when its in a bowl with butter salt & pepper its grits but when its fried its “Fried mush”.

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    Debra - May 16, 2011

    No there is a diffrence. There is cornmeal mush and theres grits. I eat them both…

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    Bob - May 23, 2011

    My mother was from south Georgia. She used to make this with cornmeal and fried it. She would eat it with a raw onion, just as if it were an apple. I didn’t like the raw onion, but the fried mush was great!

    Reply
    JamesD - July 17, 2013

    We made it with cornmeal for decades, generations…loved it fried then topped with maple syrup & butter (or with just butter,salt, & pepper). We’ve moved on to using yellow grits instead of cornmeal because it seems to be just a little bit more chewy. Either way, it’s great eating …for peasant or king.

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    Linda - December 29, 2014

    I love fried mush..but fried grits sounds verry interesting! gonna have to try some. thanks for the idea.

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Olivia - August 15, 2010

This is Polenta !! My Italian relatives have been eating it for generations lol.

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    Debra - May 16, 2011

    That is so cool, how people in diffrent countries end up having things in common.

    Reply
      Chloe - July 3, 2012

      This is actually what is called “fufu” downsouth and in Africa. In Africa, it is made with corn which arrived during slavery, but was previously made using an African corn called “millet”.

      Corn and its various American cooking methods were later exported to Europe where traders used them to sell the grain (native to the US) to the Europeans. Hence, French, Italians, and Romanians eating these dishes.

      But these mashed meals, all very specific to the African-populated south are all firmly rooted in African cuisine.

      “The Virginia Housewife” helped bring these African dishes to the white population of the US. Traders helped spread their popularity in Europe.

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        Ray - April 20, 2015

        UHmmm I love Fu-Fu, but in Liberia it is from Cassava not cornmeal. Even is States, I have heard of making with potatoes, but not Cornmeal. I also like mush, but not the same to me anyway,.

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Sara - October 21, 2010

I make this and spread it into a jellyroll pan to chill. I use cookie cutters to cut out shapes (usually holiday related!) and fry in butter. My kids think it is so fun to get a star or a cat on their plate….they eat it up!

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Suzy Q - January 21, 2011

Can you use Maseca corn flour to make this? It’s corn flour that’s been treated with Lime…

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    Carol Cripps - May 18, 2011

    No, Maseca won’t work. For one thing, it’s too fine – you need the coarser ground corn meal for good mush. For another, the taste of the lime is okay in tortillas, but I think it would be too strong for mush.

    I also make “scrapple” from mush. I add bits of meat and sauteed vegetables to the hot mush, then pour it into a rinsed loaf tin to set. My favourite meat is sausage – I save the grease from frying the sausage meat for frying the scrapple. I usually add grated carrot, minced onion and garlic, and either some finely chopped celery or celery seed for the veg. I made this for my sister’s kids once, and they fought over the crumbs in the pan! It’s a good way to use up bits of leftover meat and vegetables, too.
    Just chop them up fairly finely, and mix them in.

    Reply
      Carol Cripps - May 18, 2011

      Oh, and for a third thing, cornmeal’s cheaper than Maseca.

      Reply
      geekbearinggifts - July 13, 2011

      The lime referred to is the chemical, not the fruit. Treating with lime is the way you turn corn into hominy (grits) or make masa harina for tortillas. Whether cornmeal or masa is cheaper depends on where you live and whether the store caters to Spanish-speaking or English-speaking customers.

      Reply
      Marlene - November 11, 2015

      This is souse. Scrapple is made by the water (both) of cooked pork. Instead or water just like mush. Your souse can be made using spices and any fatty bit of the pork. Was the head used because of the way it jells. Love it with cornbread or on sandwiches. Big ole onion to eat with it too.

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    Rae L. - December 26, 2014

    Corn meal pudding uses Maseica. The texture comes out different from corn meal mush. Maseca has a higher nutritional value than untreated corn meal. I make both.

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sherry m - March 2, 2011

I recall my dad making fried meal mush when I was growing up in Ohio……..He cooked it and poured it into a bread pan to cool in the refrigerator overnight , than he sliced it and fried it. My Mom made ( Imitation) maple syrup from the maplein container bought cheaply in the store…….All us kids knew nothing else so it tasted great to us.. We were just a poor family ………
I have often thought of Dad’s cornmeal mush and yesterday when I was in Grocery outlet and saw a 5 lb bag of Cornmeal cheap, I bought it and said I was going to make some Mush for old times sake but today I realized, I didn’t have Dad’s recipe so that led me to the internet………….I found one and plan to make it this week-end so my son can try it…………………Thank you for the recipe….
I can still see my Dad sitting at the table eating this for breakfast along with his Instant coffee with can milk for cream…………

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Debra - April 28, 2011

WHEN I WAS A LITTLE GIRL IN CHICAGO, A FAMILY OF 8 KIDS IN THE 60’S DAD MADE THIS ON WEEKENDS HE ALWAYS ADDED DRIED FRUIT. I AM MAKING IT TODAY FOR MY GRORGIA PEACH HUSBAND OF YRS

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Debra - May 16, 2011

I grew up in Ohio also. My mom made fried mush.I have been hungry for it for sometime. Never did have a recipe for it,she probably cooked it for memorie & I was young, just knew it was good. Live in Tennessee now. Thought people here would know about mush but no one I talked to does!! Amazing to me since I thought mush came from the south. So glad I ran onto this site and recipe. I will be making this tonight. Thank you so much for bring back good memories. Don’t know if my Tn.husband will like it but I sure will !!

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Beth - May 18, 2011

I was raised in Ohio and my grandfather and mom both made mush for breakfast. I was on here looking for a recipe for it but none of them add cheese. My grandfather made his but added cheese slices to his while it cooked. It was an amazing treat back then and both my daughters love it now. I only wish I could have saved a copy before both my grandfather and mother were gone.

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DebraRuegg - May 18, 2011

I grew up eating cornmeal mush like the recipe and fried,same way with the grits,oatmeal[yes fried oatmeal] and when available Cream of Rice & Wheat fried at another meal. And Thank You Teri. I eat my grits with butter,salt & pepper, When I eat at the restaurants that have grits on the menu,I get strange looks. Never cared for the sugar or sugar substitute that everybody else seems to do. Never been to Georgia,and to the best of my knowledge none of my relatives ate it this way. Think I’ll move to Geogia. At least I won’t feel like the odd duck.

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Dani - May 23, 2011

Another Ohio gal here. There sell it in the grocery store here. Open slice and fry. It isn’t as good as homemade, but it does the trick in a pinch. We eat our with butter and syrup!!!!

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    Tracey - June 16, 2011

    We Ohioans must love our mush! I still buy the rolls at the grocery store too. My family always eats it with coffee and sugar sprinkled over it. I don’t know where that came from (maybe we couldn’t afford syrup) but my kids still love it that way.

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WM.ANDERSON - July 4, 2011

these coments are very interesting.. i had a native from Kenya africa visiting me for a while He was the son of one of the chief’s in this tribe and came t the USA for Bible training things here amazed him so much food and other stuff and doors that opened by them selves etc. it was fun having him in our home anyway one day he ask me if i could do him a favor , he was so hungry for a dish from home i took him to krogers and he had me get corn meal & buttermilk he wanted a wooden spon and an iron pot and he made this pot of mush He thanked me over and over as he was so hungry for this just plain no butter or suger just his mush and buttermilk i made a friend for life i like my mush also i forgot what he called it he did not like our sweet stuff but hot and spicy was ok lol.

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    Chloe - July 3, 2012

    It’s called “Ugali” in Kenya. In the US, it’s called “fufu” by African-Americans in the south (at least that’s what we called it); It’s called “fufu” in west and southern Africa.

    Ugali is made by Kenyans using either/or: cornmeal or grits. Ugali is also what African-American refer to as stiff grit, also.

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      Kamau - September 30, 2012

      You are right Chloe. Its called “ugali”. Best served with stew made of leafy veges like “sukumawiki” (Kales) or spinach and roast meat. Almost the Kenyan Staple meal. Very delicious. I do however wonder where W.M. Andersons visitor was from. Kenyans aren`t that dumb unless his visitor was some of the remote tribes like the Maasai or Karenjins

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        Angela - December 1, 2012

        I’m loving reading the multicultural aspects of this dish. But I have to ask, what makes you assume the visitor was dumb? He was over here for college level training and nothing that Anderson said indicated any stupidity on the part of their guest. And my husband has spent a lot of time with the Masai and found them to be highly intelligent. I don’t mean to go off topic but this was a bit condescending for a beautiful discussion on a wonderfully historic dish.

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          Wrinkley - November 12, 2014

          Awesome comment to Kamau! What a mean thing to say.

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          Me - March 4, 2015

          Some Kenyans I knew when first come over are very hesitant as to not do the wrong thing. Others are very much this is how we do it, let me show you the ropes of America. He was probably just being very respectful of others.

          He obviously knew how to make it.. though it is a much longer process then how Americans make mush and the Kenyans I knew used white corn meal.

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      Suzanne - September 4, 2014

      I lived in Liberia, West Africa, for 2 years as a Peace Corps volunteer. In Liberia, what they called “fufu” was not something made out of corn. Rather, out of the root of the tapioca plant. The very hard root mixed with water is pounded in a giant mortar and pestle until it’s the consistency of bread dough. It’s eaten raw by taking a small hunk, dipping it into a stew, and swallowing it.

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        Ray - April 20, 2015

        Yes Susan, for me too!
        The Cassava plant (what we make tapioca from) not Corn meal. We always put a bigger piece of Fu Fu in the bottom of the bowl and put the ‘soup’ over it so you could take as much as you liked!

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momma5 - July 28, 2011

I grew up in Kentucky and my Granny made crnmeal mush fried and its delicious and I just wanted to say thank you for the recipe

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Dan Brown USN (Ret) - August 11, 2011

Thanks for the recipe . My mom made mush for the family , which included our hound dog , at least once a week . I can get it at the local eatery , but it”s commercial , and not the same .
Some times mom would put pork cracklin’s in it , and when that happened , the hound dog didn’t make out so well !!

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k zook - September 3, 2011

When I was growing up, this was something that my grandma would make in a big pot, then pour into loaf pans and cool and bring around for her kids and grandkids. I always thought it was such a treat and that only grandma could do it…
Now I’m 35, and making it for my kids – grandma’s gone… Miss her smiling face and her can-do attitude. She was raised up during the depression and she and grandpa raised up 5 kids on a small farm in the hills of McVeytown, Pennsylvania. My dad ate a lot of simple, plain, inexpensive meals growing up (and he always said she over-cooked the meat), but this fried mush, cooked up in bacon grease, with some eggs over-easy layered on top is something he never complained about 😉 (He puts jelly on it for the dessert course).
I’ll leave you with one of her truisms — Your attitude depends on your outlook, and your life’s outlook depends greatly on how often you look up (referring to receiving guidance from the Lord).

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    The Hillbilly Housewife - September 4, 2011

    Thank you, k zook, for the truism. Such a wonderful thought.

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Ron Flackus - October 30, 2011

Cornmeal mush must be a universal food! As a kid living in Southern Oregon, I can remember my mom cooking a big pot of mush and we’d have a bowl (or two) of it for breakfast. She’d pour the remaining mush into a loaf pan and we’d have fried mush the next morning, with syrup and butter on it. She’d fry some bacon to go along with it. I’m 75 now and recall those days with many fond memories.
Hmmm, this sounds so good, I guess I’ll make some mush for breakfast this morning!

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Lis - November 8, 2011

I make this once or twice a year in the fall for dinner with maple syrup. My kids devour every bit. We’re from Baltimore, but as African Americans probably have some more Southern roots.

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Earl - November 14, 2011

Dear Ma’am, I lucked onto your website and will be back often! I was raised in California by a wonderful Louisiana mama who put me in the kitchen at 8 yrs old. I remember us eating like royalty and being paid like paupers, so you’d never know we were poor at supper time. Most of that I carried with me these 42 yrs and have been reminded of the rest by your website. Thanks more than a million!

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Joyce Bolen - November 16, 2011

My papa started me eating what we call gruel. It was made the same as the mush, but with chicken stock. I still make it. Nothing better on a cold damp Mississippi day to warm you up, than chicken broth gruel. Never lasted long enough to set up and fry later.

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Jane - November 17, 2011

Wow – this brings back memories. I grew up with my Italian relatives and we lived with my Italian Grandmother. I always knew we were having Polenta (yes, it’s cornmeal mush) for dinner on a cold winter day when I’d come home from school and could see the windows in the kitchen were all steamed up! She would make a huge kettle of the stuff, pour it onto plates hot from the pot, smooth it out so it looked like a pizza and top it with pasta sauce (homemade of course) with Italian sausage cooked in the sauce and grated romano cheese on top. Wow – I thought I was in heaven. Leftover polenta/mush was put in a loaf pan and refrigerated then sliced, fried and eaten as described above but it was always best just out of the pot. I was probably 11 or 12 before I found out other people fried it with butter and syrup on it. I still make it with the sauce because that’s how I was raised. Cheap, stick to your ribs food. My family didn’t have much money and Grandpa grew a huge garden and mom and Grandma canned everything. Those were the days! I guess poor food is poor food, no matter how you cook it but to us it was better than anything you could possibly eat!

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    Pravina - February 8, 2016

    Doesn’t sound like poor food to me. Fresh vegetables, right out go the garden, can’t get any better than that!

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Ross Adamson - November 17, 2011

Hi! From Victoria, Texas I thank you for your cornmeal recipe! It tastes exactly like the Cream of Wheat mush I used to eat every morning growing up! I stopped eating it years ago because of the expense! Now I can make my own!

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Richard - December 13, 2011

I live in Louisiana and we had Fried Grits many times for supper, my mother ran then through a season egg wash, then fried them in bacon grease, most of us ate them with a little ketchup, I now live in Northeast Louisiana, and every year i have fresh ground cornmeal, i bag it up in gal. zip locks and put my years supply in the freezer, i plan to cook me some mush eat it both hot with butter & Cheese & also let some set up to fry, one of the last things my mother showed me how to do was makeing scrapel, We were making Hog Head Cheese & she told me to save some of the pork meat, and the afternoon we made up a batch of Scrapel, the nexr morning i went by and she fried up a batch, it was good, Thanks for the Mush Recipe

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Margie Robichaux - April 21, 2012

Oh my goodness!!! My Aunt got on the internet looking for a recipe for mush and found this one. I grew up in Eastern Kentucky and my Daddy made this for me every time I would come back home for a visit. It was one of my favorites and I would stand at the stove eating it as fast as he would take it from the skillet (fried mush)! He would always laugh and say No one else is going to get any! He was just thrilled and loved making it for me. It was always a Daddy and his little girl thing with us. He has been gone now for 3 yrs but reading everyone comments I just had to share my wonderful memories as well. Funny how something like cornmeal could have warmed our hearts with such beautiful memories for so many years! Now I’m going to create some more with my Aunt Madeline as she gets introduced to the wonderful world of Fried Mush! LOL!

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    The Hillbilly Housewife - April 24, 2012

    I’m so glad you found us, Margie. And I’m also happy this little recipe evoked warm memories for you. Thank you for sharing your story with us.

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    Christy - January 10, 2015

    I loved your post!!!! Fried cornmeal mush was a daddy/daughter thing for me, too. I grew up in Southern Illinois and my dad LOVED to fry up this dish for us. He’d fry it and we’d eat it sprinkled with a little bit of salt…a BIG plate full…before anyone else had any. My grandma made it for him and she taught my mom how to make it, too. I’m so glad she did. My dad has been gone for almost 2 years now, and my mom made up a big batch of cornmeal mush for me and my siblings. I just fried up a batch now and instantly thought of Dad. Such a wonderful comfort food!!! Gonna make it a point to learn how to make it, too. All I know is that after we would make a pork roast, Grandma would use the drippings to make the mush. I was always told that the pork gave the cornmeal mush extra flavor.

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DuffyD - April 22, 2012

My Mom back in WV used to make us kids fried cornmeal mush for breakfast with her version of syrup (boiled sugar, water, vanilla flavoring). She would keep 4 iron skillets going for us 5 kids and we would eat until she stopped frying. Now that I live in NH, I treat myself with this old family fave but I now use local maple syrup (B-Grade, of course).

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Cathe - April 24, 2012

Thank you for this recipe and all the comments. What memories evertything evokes! I frew up in Michigan and central Illinois and my mom fixed cornmeal mush for us quite regularly. We did not have fried mush, though. I had no idea how good that was until I used your recipe and fried it like the comments suggested. My mom and dad have been gone for several years, but this was like being home again. Thanks again and I will be checking out your site often.

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Kathy - April 25, 2012

I have never tried cornmeal mush but I plan to do so very soon. Sounds yummy. I love corn bread. I have tried fried polenta and I do like that alot. Love reading all the comments.

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db - May 10, 2012

i have just had dental work done and having to eat soft food.
last night i thought about cornmeal mush that we eat many years ago.
there was 9 children and my papa
talk about poor that was us
we never had it fried
did you ever eat cornmeal soup? season with salt, pepper and bacon grease
well thats just thinned down mush and thats what i just eat for breakfast and it tasted pretty good

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Adiasinine - July 20, 2012

I have read every post and I love them! I am an Ohio transplant from Indiana and like many of you I have great memories of my Dad and Grandma cooking up mush. My Dad always made the cereal type and we usually did not have much left to fry. He was a fabulous cook! Grandma usually fried hers. I can make it like my Dad did, but when I try to refrigerate it to make fried mush, it does not work – runs everywhere, then I use too much oil and in the end a mess that only I will attempt to eat. I did not inherit any cooking skills! The Internet is helping me to survive ! : ). Can anyone help me turn my cereal into fried mush? What am I doing wrong? I love all of you and your stories! Let’s keep the mush thread going! It brings back those warm, fuzzy memories! Thank you!!

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    Mark (Slim) - August 1, 2012

    Hey Isn’t Corn Meal just “the BOMB” ? I like corn meal for breading, for Johnny Cake (corn bread) and especially for CORN MEAL MUSH. My mother would by the kind in the roll/sleeve in the refrigerated section of the grocery. It was good but not like home made. I’ve been making mush & fried mush for about 35 years now. Since the kids are grown I make 4 cup ‘batches’ eat a little bowl like cereal. I then make either scrapel (with cooked down, de-boned pigs feet.) -or- loaf mush for frying. Either way here is how I do it — Cook down your mush in a sauce pan ( 4:1 water to corn meal -add the corn meal ( 1 C) to 1/4th the amount of COLD water (1 C) – stir well and let absorb the water while you bring the other 3/4 of the water (3 C) to a full boil. Slowly add the cold water/corn meal mixture to the boiling water stirring constantly until the mix returns to a boil. Turn down the burner to med- low ( a gentle boil), cook until thick (about 10 minutes), stirring occasionally) remove from heat. Allow to stand a few minutes to finish cooking and thicken more. Prepare a loaf (preferably glass) loaf pan with cooking spray or shortening to coat. Add the mush to the pan and allow to cool to room temperature– Cover with plastic wrap or aluminum foil –(AFTER cooling thoroughly) the place in the refrigerator over night. Next morning remove from pan, slice (aprox) 1/4″- 3/8″ dip pieces in flour and fry in (preferred) bacon drippings or lard or shortening. E N J O Y !!!

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Adisson - July 20, 2012

PS. My Mom just reminded me that my Dad used to whip up a big batch of mush to feed to our dogs too! I guess we all ate well! : ).

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jenna - September 15, 2012

I am West Indian American and my mom made the best corn meal mush ever. Has anyone ever added coconut milk to it and brown sugar. We call it ” creme ” in the Caribbean. For the real creme tasting of heaven you have to use freshly made coconut milk, which means you grate or blend the coconut with water and you strain the milk. I dont like the canned cocnut milk because they use preservatives which takes away from the nice creamy taste. Coconut milk is the best and dont forget it is oh so very healthy.

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Angie - November 25, 2012

I was wanting hot cereal this morning, but didn’t have any cream of wheat or anything. Then I remembered Mama used to make corn meal mush for us when I was a kid in Alabama. Looked in her recipe box but couldn’t find it. She must have done it from memory, as she did a lot of things. I looked on a different website, but they didn’t say to mix the cornmeal with the cold water, and I remember that is something Mama always did. Thank you for having the “correct” recipe. I have never had it fried, though. Didn’t know about that. I may try it. We always ate the hot with butter and sugar. I didn’t know that it was made anywhere other than in the deep south. Thank you for all the posts, definitely learned something today!

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Angela - December 1, 2012

Thank you so much for this. As a kid I devoured books on early American history. I’m a southern girl, the daughter of a Virginia farmer’s daughter. My mom exposed me to all kinds of old-fashioned dishes (Anyone ever hear of fried cottage cheese?) This recipe brought history to life and my daughter and I have been eating it all week!

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Gregg - September 21, 2013

Hello all, 1st time poster here and I would like to say that it is just wonderful to have found a page like this where folks can share their stories, recipes and memories with one another without the disrespect that unfortunately seems to be all over other comment sites. You have done a fantastic job with your site Hillbilly Housewife, and your commenters are a great bunch of folks who are very real people who have not forgotten where they have came from. I can’t think of any other site I would rather visit!……Thank you Hillbilly Housewife.

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Laura - October 4, 2013

I agree with Gregg, these stories are wonderful and I’ve enjoyed and learned something from every one of them. This is also my first time posting and it really is so nice to find a site where there is respect and “celebrates diversity”.

I always make grits when I miss my Mississippi grandmother, she made them with just butter to put fried eggs over and when she made pork roast she made them with sharp cheddar, garlic and a couple of beaten eggs and baked in the oven. My understanding of grits is that the hominy is made by soaking corn in lye water til it swells, then drying it. Is that the same as lime?

My favorite memory of actual cornmeal mush is the time when my former brother-in-law had all his farmer friends over to help with making maple syrup in the early spring. He had a big property with an 1840s log settler’s cabin in Missouri, when you looked around you couldn’t tell what century you were in! It had a lot of maple trees on it and someone remembered from their grandparents how to tap the trees, they were running all over with an old tractor gathering up buckets that had filled with sap and boiling it all down. There was one big guy cooking outside at a big long wooden table, making what he called “panhaus”. It was cornmeal mush fried together with hog’s head parts– jowl and such. We were pouring that syrup over it and eating it as fast as he would fry it. Sitting outside that old cabin in the chilly air overlooking his big pond, surrounded by trees that were hundreds of years old, the chewy, salty pieces of jowl in the mush with that fresh syrup over it still seems like the best thing I ever put in my mouth!

As I have been reading everybody’s fond memories and how we all seem to be passing them on to our kids and grandkids, I can’t help but be reminded what a debt of thanks we owe to the Indigenous Peoples who first cultivated corn on this continent.

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Aileen Curfman - December 15, 2013

My babysitter often made corn meal mush when I was a little girl in southern West Virginia. She would make the mush one day and pour it into a greased loaf pan. The next day, she would fry some bacon, slice the chilled mush and fry it in the bacon grease. Later, I learned to eat it right out of the pot like oatmeal, with milk, raisins and walnuts.

As an adult, I encountered polenta in a trendy restaurant, and discovered it was my beloved corn meal mush, topped with veggies in a sauce.

A few years later, a Zimbabwean coworker was eating a lunch she brought from home–a delicious smelling beef stew served over something I didn’t recognize. It was saadza, she told me, made by boiling white corn meal in water for about 10 minutes.

And then I read the autobiography of Jacques Pepin, the NPR chef. At the age of 6, he spent a summer in the country away from his family. On the first night, the farmer’s wife made one of his favorite comfort foods, gaudes. Sure enough, corn meal mush has found its way into French cuisine.

I wonder what other cultures have adopted this versatile standby.

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terry - February 18, 2015

Growing up in Northern Illinois, my mother would make “mush” when I was a child…any left overs were placed on a cookie sheet with about a 1/4 inch edge, smoothed out to an even thickness, chilled overnight, cut up in about 1 by 4 inch strips, floured and fried in butter the next morning. I now have nine grand children and they all love it. My secret is to add the corn meal to cold water, stir over med. heat until cooked (you won’t have lumps). We make this a couple times a month.
As to the origin, we must remember, corn came from South America, perhaps the Inca or Mayans should get the credit…?

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Kristine Adams - May 8, 2015

What a joy it’s been, to read through these various takes on a simple dish! One of my sons is coming in for Mother’s Day weekend – he and I are strongest fans of fried cornmeal mush in our family. So, double-checking my mental recipe’ I found this site. In a few moments I’m off to try the “cold + hot” prep approach.

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Deana - May 31, 2015

What interesting stories. Glad I ran into it.
Well, I was born in Panama, where corn grew abundantly. Like you, my grandmother also made and fried “corn meal mush”, but we call it “tortillas frita”. Our tortillas are 3/8″ thicker; sometimes their fried in bacon grease, and sometimes their cooked slowly over low heat (for those who cannot eat too much fried food). We also ate them with a piece of pork and slices of our favorite white cheese; it’s like the ones you call “ranchero cheese”.
After my husband and I got married, I decided to make corn meal mush one morning, because it was the closest resemblance to our Panamenian tortilla. I served it up with bacon and white cheese and a cup of coffee (oh yeah…coffee taste real good with these). Goodness gracious, it was not the way his German Mom served them to him when he was growing up! She served them with syrup! This is when I first learned to pour syrup over mine. I still like it best with bacon and ranchero white cheese, though.
Both of our children have adopted both versions, however, they love the friend mush best with the bacon and the ranchero white cheese. It is always a treat for them when I make them.
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Selene - August 20, 2015

My boyfriend and I live in the Philadelphia PA suburbs. I just made fried polenta slices from a tube with marinara sauce and parmesan cheese for dinner, and my boyfriend became so excited, saying it was just like the “mush” he ate as a boy. He grew up near Lancaster, PA (rural central PA, Amish country). His grandmother would fry slices from a loaf, just like scrapple, and he’d eat it with butter and syrup (like a pancake) or with milk, sugar, and fruit in a bowl. (Of course, he eats many other foods with milk and sugar in a bowl!) It brought back such fond memories! I think we’ll be having corn mush for breakfast now and then :)

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bob - October 6, 2015

after it is cooked, pour half into a 9×13 cake pan and sprinkle with 1/2 cup parmesan or 1 c shredded sharp cheddar. then pour other half on top. chill for 2-3 hours cut into squares and fry

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Barbara - January 1, 2016

Just had some mush (it’s one of those “comfort foods,” isn’t it) and baked beans, which I make with green pepper, since I can’t eat onion. The combination was amazingly good.

I can’t believe everyone eats it with syrup–growing up, we never had it, either fresh out of the pan or fried, any way other than with butter, salt and pepper. But then I don’t like pancakes or anything else with syrup, either. (Don’t hit me!)

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Donna - January 2, 2016

Just had for breakfast husband likes it as cereal in bowl with butter and milk but I like it fried with syrup. Either way delicious and easy to make.

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Mark Wilson - January 16, 2016

Lets face it, it’s just plain good. I also like grits (cornmeal) cooked in the same manner as most of the above recipes. In a seperate Iorn skillet fry up some ham (a cured ham is best) remove when browned. Using the ham grease (and scrapple pieces) add to it a half cup of coffee salt and pepper, bring to a boil then pour that over my grits. This is what I have been told is Red-Eye-Gravy. Grits also make good fried mush, make a pot full then chill in a loaf pan. Slice and fry in bacon grease served with bacon, Eggs and homade bicuits. Wow I am hungry now. Going to go fry some mush.

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tom martinage - January 23, 2016

mush is a great food, I like grits equally as well but I think the mush has a better taste, more corn-like flavor and a bit sweet. your recipe is perfect. I usually have it by myself, wife is not big on grains, so for one nice dish I use 1/2 cup corn meal and 1 1/2 cups hot water and 1/2 cup cold water to mix with the corn meal before adding it to the pot. a dash of butter and a sprinkle of salt and pepper and that is a great breakfast or side dish any time of day. perfect on a cold winter day here in the mountains of PA.

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Noelle - January 31, 2016

I’m from WV and I remember mush and scrapple (the real stuff, not the store bought. By real I mean, the only thing that wasn’t in the scrapple was the animal sound). Mom made this every chance she got because she knew that my younger sister and I loved it. We were raised on both. Mom also tended to make country ham with it if she didn’t have scrapple on hand. Mom came across it on her summers in Baltimore,MD but when she came home and shared it with her parents, she found out that they already knew how to make it. Anyways, I was craving mush today and I found this recipe. I’m going to make it and fry it after it sets which is how I prefer it. Thanks for this. I have never made mush before and Mom’s been dead 7 years. I’m way overdue. I have the scrapple and the country ham…all I needed was the mush.

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