Degermed Yellow Cornmeal: Meaning, Comparison & Uses

Cornmeal is corn kernels ground and dried into a fine, medium, or coarse powder. The variety of cornmeal depends on the type of corn used. The focus of this article is steel ground degermed yellow cornmeal.

This variety of cornmeal is the most common in the US. The production process this cornmeal undergoes gives it a fine and smooth texture. It also makes it last longer.

Learn more about degermed yellow cornmeal and its uses and get more information about other cornmeal varieties in this article.

What is degermed yellow cornmeal?

Degermed yellow cornmeal is ground corn made from corn kernels that have been stripped of their germs and hulls.

Grains like corn, millet, wheat, and oats have three basic parts. These include the outer shell or hull, the starchy endosperm, and the germ.

The germ which is the embryo of the seed is rich in polyunsaturated fats or oil which can easily become rancid and cause cornmeal to stale fast.

The idea of cornmeal degemination was born from a need to extend the shelf life of cornmeal and improve storage.

Cornmeal degemination separates the endosperm from the germ and husk through milling. Removing the husk allows for a finer and smoother texture.

But cornmeal loses a lot of nutrients during this process. However, manufacturers have a way of adding the nutrients back to the cornmeal to make it as good as whole-grain cornmeal.

Differences between degermed and whole grain cornmeal

The major difference between cornmeal is that some are whole grain while some are degermed.

The peculiarities highlighted in this section are what differentiates the types of cornmeal that we have:

1. Texture and taste

Cornmeal varies by fine, medium, and coarse consistencies. Stone ground cornmeal is coarse because it retains its hull and germ.

Blue and white cornmeal are usually ground into medium or fine texture while steel ground yellow cornmeal has fine texture because they are degermed and hulled.

Whole grain cornmeal has a very pronounced corn taste in food recipes. Degermed cornmeal on the other hand has less apparent corn flavor in foods.

2. Uses

Fine and medium grains are the most preferred for baking because of their light texture. Hence, yellow and white cornmeal can be used for making muffins, flatbread, and cornbread.

You can use coarse-grind cornmeal in cakes and bread but it makes them gritty and pebbly and the taste of corn is overpowering in the recipe. So, it’s best for breading fish, making polenta, grits, and crunchy blueberry crisp toppings.

3. Nutrients

Coarse cornmeal is ground between stones or traditionally milled without separating or removing the hull or germs. This makes it more nutritious than degermed cornmeal ground in modern roller millers.

Coarse cornmeal contains about 5 grams of fiber, 21 grams of carbs, 1.5 grams of fat, and 100 calories. Degermed cornmeal loses a lot of nutrients in the process of milling, although it is possible to add these nutrients back.

4. Shelf life

Degermed cornmeal can last for about a year since the germs which contain unsaturated oil that can make it go rancid are removed. Whole grain cornmeal on the other hand can last for months but not up to a year.

Degermed white corn vs degermed yellow corn

The only substantial difference between white cornmeal and yellow cornmeal is their color.  The color of each variety comes from the color of the original corn kernels.

Both types of cornmeal can be used interchangeably in some recipes. However, there are traditions and preferences that tend to keep them separate. 

Historically, yellow cornmeal was more popular in the UK and northern states, where it was the basis for recipes for food such as Indian pudding, spider cake, and johnny’s cake.

Yellow cornmeal is also the cornmeal used in making traditional cornbread in the US.

Southerners, on the other hand, prefer white cornmeal. It is the main ingredient in traditional Southern buttermilk cornbread.

White cornmeal is also often milled to a finer grind than yellow cornmeal, which gives baked goods made from it a more refined, less earthy texture.

Studies also show that yellow cornmeal tends to be richer in nutrients like Vitamin A and beta-carotene. But they both make delicious meals.

Other varieties of cornmeal

You’ll see several other products in stores that are still basically cornmeal but are labeled differently because of how they’re used. 

Essentially, grits, polenta, and masa harina are all forms of cornmeal, but they’re not used to make cornbread.

1. Polenta

Polenta is a word used to describe the popular Italian corn batter and the cornmeal used to make this dish.

While no specific cornmeal is required to make polenta, most cooks prefer a medium or coarse ground, and packages of cornmeal labeled as polenta are usually coarse.

Instant polenta is made from cornmeal that is hydrated and then dehydrated and can be cooked in minutes.

2. Grits

Although the word grits come from the British word to refer to any coarsely ground grain, it has come to refer to very coarsely ground cornmeal. The grits may be white or yellow and are usually made from cornmeal. 

The tastier whole-wheat grits are harder to find but are available from some mail-order sources.

3. Masa harina

Masa harina, which literally translates to dough flour in Spanish, is a very fine corn flour made from hominy called pozole in Mexico and the Southwest.

It is traditionally ground from moist, freshly ground cornmeal. The freshly ground paste, called masa, is used to make authentic tortillas.

Because it spoils quickly, masa is usually dried and then pounded into masa harina which lasts longer. Masa harina is most often used as a thickener in soups and stews, such as chili ragu.

It is also used to replace wheat flour in traditional Latin American kitchens.


Is demerged cornmeal gluten-free?

Demerged cornmeal is gluten-free. It is made from corn kernels, which are not gluten grains. However, cornmeal may be gluten-free if it is processed in the same facility that process gluten grains.

Is degermed yellow cornmeal good for you?

Yes. Degermed yellow cornmeal protects eye health. It is also rich in vitamins and protein.

Is degermed yellow cornmeal whole grain?

No. Whole grains have their brand, germs, and endosperm intact. Since degermed yellow cornmeal has its hulls and germs separate from the endosperm, they are not whole grains.


As a way of increasing the shelf life of cornmeal, degemination became a lasting solution. By removing the germs and hulls from the endosperm, cornmeal can stay for at least a year without losing taste or going stale.

Demerged yellow cornmeal is the most common type of cornmeal found in US stores. It’s used for baking pancakes, muffins, cornbread, and flatbread.

Although degermed cornmeal loses nutrients during milling, some nutrients like Vitamin B6, thiamine, manganese, iron, and magnesium can be added back.

I hope this article helped. Thanks for reading.

Read more articles like this on Millenora.