Cornmeal Mush

cornmeal mush

One way our ancestors used cornmeal-was to make mush. Folks think of cornmeal mush as a breakfast food comparable to grits, however in Paps family it was often eaten for supper as well.

Cornmeal mush was an inexpensive food to make (actually it still is). We’ve already discussed what an important crop corn was-most folks had cornmeal on hand and they for sure had the other main ingredient-which is water.

The Deer Hunter’s Aunt Wanda still cooks cornmeal mush. She said she’s liked it since she was a little girl-cornmeal mush is a comfort food for her as it reminds her of her childhood. Last time I was at her house she made mush for breakfast, it was very good.

Cornmeal mush is easy to make-anyone who’s made grits already has it down pat. Aunt Wanda said in the old days sometimes folks would sift the cornmeal to get the bigger pieces of meal out-of course this was during the time when everyone’s cornmeal came from a gristmill and was a coarser texture-that isn’t a problem with today’s store bought cornmeal.


To make cornmeal mush:

  • Bring 2 cups of water to a boil
  • Add a pinch of salt
  • Pour 1 cup of cornmeal into the boiling water while stirring the mixture
  • Continue cooking until thick
  • You can add butter, sugar, syrup or whatever pleases you to the mush

Pap’s mother often cooked cornmeal mush and then poured it into a container to set up. She then sliced the firm mush to fry it for supper. Pap said it was sorta like pancakes as they would pour syrup over the fried mush. (in those days sugar cane syrup was what most folks had in this area of Appalachia)

Ever had cornmeal mush?





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  • Reply
    Paula Vibert
    August 7, 2016 at 6:56 pm

    My mother taught me the way she made mush and that was to fry it in butter.
    First, make the cornmeal mush, then pour it into a small buttered loaf pan and refrigerate until firm. Remove the mush by turning the pan upside down. Then carefully slice the mush into quarter inch slices and pan fry in butter until nicely browned. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve. Delicious!
    Paula V.

  • Reply
    Ethelene Jones
    November 25, 2011 at 10:32 am

    Somehow I missed the cornmela mush discussion the first time around (Nov. 8 or thereabouts). Yes, I’ve eaten cornmeal mush, both ways, fresh and hot from the stove, and set-up and fried as leftovers. Both ways, I liked mush. And a real treat was with sorghum syrup, which was a staple with us in the N. GA mountains. My Dad was a champion sorghum-syrup maker (and this is far different from sugar cane!). He made his own from the cane we grew in our fields, and for many other farmers in the area–making sometimes as much as 3,000 gallons a season. Sorghum syrup was one of our main money crops–and the way farmers in Choestoe earned their tax money as well as had money for the winter months ahead. And, not the least of sorghum’s benefits, to go with corn-meal mush, or fried mush in those delicious slices!

  • Reply
    Charles W Bechtel
    March 13, 2011 at 4:13 am

    Since moving to the Southwest I’ve found peppers creeping into many recipes from back East. I just made corn meal mush with diced Jalapeños and chopped frozen corn. Let it set and fried it as always, and whaddaya know? Shazzam!

  • Reply
    November 22, 2009 at 9:22 am

    I never tried it, although I’ve done polenta and corn tortillas with Masa — I really want to try this with butter. We are off corn right now, catching up on reading your blog is killing me.

  • Reply
    Carolyn A.
    November 12, 2009 at 9:48 pm

    I’ve never had cornmeal mush, but I’ve had cornmeal cakes. Grandmom used to make them for Grandpop, and when we visited we had them too. She put homemade jam on ours and he had maple syrup on his. I liked the crunchiness from them being fried and from the cornmeal itself. I’ll have to try the mush sometime and see what I’ve missed. xxoo

  • Reply
    Matthew Burns
    November 12, 2009 at 10:35 am

    I love cornmeal mush. Ain’t nothing better than mush on a cold day. I make it quite often here in the winter months; often for breakfast or for a snack. we always had mush when I was a kid, I remember Grandmaw Mary would tell us kids to eat our mush, it’d make us grow. She’d then point out that we fatten our piglets on cornmeal, so it’d work for kids too. Grandmaw was one of the old folks who equated a fat kid with a healthy kid. she’s always loved my size, because as she put it, “I was fatter than a little toad.”
    Yes, I ever had to wear Toughskin “Husky” pants, if that gives you any indication!!lol.
    My mother-in-law does something with mush that I hadn’t heard of until marrying Shirley. She takes leftover mush, once it gets cold and gets real thick. She then patties it out and fries it in a little bit of butter until it gets crispy edges. It’s good that way, and yet another way to prevent throwing away food.
    I guess I’ll shut up now, and go make me some “mursh”. I might even try to find some adult sized Toughskin blue jeans,lol.

  • Reply
    November 11, 2009 at 1:15 pm

    Tipper the pic is the Miller home [email protected] branch candler,n.c.pictured left to right
    Ruth Miller Stines(my mother)
    Pa Miller(Ben)my grandfather
    Ma Miller(Rosa Bell Smathers Miller(my grandmother)she is holding Lock Miller(my uncle)
    Nettie Miller Stamey(my aunt)
    Grace Miller Hall(my aunt)
    Eugene Miller(my uncle)
    they had 3 more children who wre not yet born. They also had 2 children that had died at age2&1

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    November 11, 2009 at 8:51 am

    Tipper, I don’t like cornmeal mush or grits for that matter. I didn’t grow up eating them so I guess I never got used to them.
    After I was grown I heard of cornmeal mush and decided to try it…that is when I learned that I don;t like it.
    I also heard of Scrapple. It took me a while to find a recipe but I finally did. Scrapple is the corn meal mush cooked with pork scraps in it. Then let it set up and slice and fry it. I’m afraid I didn’t like that either. It was used in place of a breakfast meat like bacon or sausage. Scrapple was a way to use the scrap meat from hog killing. Folks used everything from the pig.
    As an aside, a few years ago I met a woman who made scrapple with oatmeal and pork. I found it to be wuite tasty.

  • Reply
    November 11, 2009 at 2:07 am

    We have a fall festival for it here in Richfield, NC. But is called cush-cush; which is a cajun description but there is nothing cajun about Richfield.
    I guess it is tough for a town of less than 400 to come up with a theme for a fall festival when all the edible food products are already taken.

  • Reply
    Valerie Boivin
    November 10, 2009 at 11:06 pm

    O we love cornmeal mush. My husband isn’t from this area and really loves the food I grew up on. I think I’ll make some mush in the morning!

  • Reply
    November 10, 2009 at 10:17 am

    Yummmm, Laripin good I tell you! I enjoy anything corn. My son and I made mush awhile back while visiting on the phone. He called to get the recipe and it ended up in a contest to see who got the first bite, lol. He won but cheated and let his set up in the freezer. The first time I fried it, was almost the last time. It stuck to the pan so bad. Then I dredged it lightly in flour and it did’nt stick. Yea!
    Thanks Tipper for the reminder.

  • Reply
    Farm Chick Paula
    November 10, 2009 at 9:18 am

    Mmmm… sounds good Tipper! I haven’t had it in years, but I remember my Grandmother used to make it.

  • Reply
    November 10, 2009 at 8:40 am

    My mom fixed mush, we ate it hot, in a bowl with sugar and milk like cream of wheat. I loved it, but have not had it since. I have never had it fried, but that sounds good. We grew up poor but my mom always had good, healthy food on the table.

  • Reply
    November 10, 2009 at 8:38 am

    Hey Tipper!
    I will be trying this! The setting up and frying it sounds awesome. But it got me thinking about something my mom talks about. Her grandmother had a maid who would make grits bread. Ever heard of it? Mom said it was kind of sweet. I have scanned old cook books for years looking for a recipe.

  • Reply
    November 9, 2009 at 11:24 pm

    Yes. My mother used to make corn meal pan cakes into which she mixed a can of sweet corn. We ate these fritters with syrup. I may have to make some soon. I’ve eaten left over mush fried too. Pappy

  • Reply
    Fishing Guy
    November 9, 2009 at 1:19 pm

    Tipper: This is not something which I enjoyed. I like corn a lot but this is one type I can pass on.

  • Reply
    November 9, 2009 at 11:46 am

    My Dad used to make that when we were kids…I do not like it at all…which is why I think he made it lol!

  • Reply
    November 9, 2009 at 7:38 am

    I love everything to do with corn. We, too, mix the leftover mush with leftover fried bacon, sausage – whatever – and pour it into a loaf pan to fry next time round. By the way, stone ground cornmeal is available (at a cost) at health food stores. Now there’s only the two of us, I sometimes grind a cup or so on an old hand grinder – love the gritty taste.

  • Reply
    November 8, 2009 at 8:23 pm

    Sounds really good. My kids might be in for a new breakfast experience!

  • Reply
    November 8, 2009 at 7:35 pm

    I’ve never tasted cornmeal mush, but just may give it a try. I enjoy the comfort foods of those days. I still eat oatmeal, cream of wheat and have had grits on occasion, though it wasn’t something cooked by my mother or grandmother. I actually had never had grits until the late 70s when I visited the southern US. I do like them though.
    Interesting post and I learned something from you today. Wishing you a great week.

  • Reply
    Cathy ~Tadpoles and Teacups
    November 8, 2009 at 7:10 pm

    I’ve never tried it but it sounds yummy.

  • Reply
    Julie at Elisharose
    November 8, 2009 at 5:07 pm

    No, I have never had cornmeal mush. I like grits though, so if they are kin, I’d probably like it. I wish it had a different name though. “Mush” isn’t too appetizing.

  • Reply
    Granny Sue
    November 8, 2009 at 4:45 pm

    I used to make cornmeal mush all the time, Tipper. It was so good, fried in bacon grease and topped with syrup, or used to dip the yellow out of over-easy eggs. I would cook it as you say above, then turn it into a loaf pan to cool and gel. When it was good and stiff, I’d slice and fry it.
    I was at a restaurant recentlt that offered it. I had to have it and it was so good. I will be making it again soon, although the bacon grease may have to go.

  • Reply
    November 8, 2009 at 2:55 pm

    We make mush, but with some sausage or leftover pork. Then put it into a bread pan and in the fridge. When ready to eat, slice it and fry it in till it is a little brown. My mouth is watering thinking about it.

  • Reply
    Patty Hall
    November 8, 2009 at 2:33 pm

    Oh. My. Goodness!! I grew up eating cornmeal mush. As you can probly tell, it is one of my favorite comfort foods. Love it with butter and sugar. lol! I have to giggle when I hear people talk about ‘polenta’-like its some kinda gourmet food. I havent’ had cornmeal mush in a long time, Tipper, now you got me wanting some.
    Someone mentioned hominy-I love hominy also. Fry some bacon or fatback an then fry the hominy in it. Yum!! Yum!!

  • Reply
    Will Dixon
    November 8, 2009 at 12:54 pm

    Although I was raised in Oregon my folks grew up in Oklahoma farm country. Ma would mix together cornmeal mush and chopped up fried pork sausage, then pour into a greased bread pan. After chilling in refrigerator over night we would slice and fry for breakfast. Real maple syrup was my favorite topping. Mighty tasty with fresh eggs!

  • Reply
    petra michelle
    November 8, 2009 at 12:03 pm

    I’ve never had it, Tipper! The idea of making pancakes is brilliant because that pretty much is a pancake recipe!
    And why eat it only during hard times? It’s a perfectly healthy and simple (the operative word in this woman’s life) food!
    One day I’m going to try it, and let you know what I think, Tipper? A little butter and syrup, sounds great! :))

  • Reply
    November 8, 2009 at 11:34 am

    I love cornmeal mush. My husband likes it with syrup, I like it without. I have never had it homemade. It sounds terrific!
    Have a beautiful Sunday!

  • Reply
    November 8, 2009 at 10:36 am

    Awesome, what time is dinner?

  • Reply
    Sheila Bergeron
    November 8, 2009 at 10:32 am

    I love cornmeal mush, especially for breakfast-sometimes for supper with a savory stew or tomatoes for supper(polenta) My problem is I like everything. Daddy said I’d eat anything that didn’t eat me first. Have a blessed day.

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    November 8, 2009 at 10:15 am

    Mom loved cornmeal mush, she grew up on it…tried it on us kids..we hated it…my Dad grew up on it too in NC…he hated it too, but had to eat it…
    My Dad also said he used to hate hominy corn…they made on the farm…and his mother used it as a staple during the winter…
    We don’t like hominy corn yellow or white! LOL Tried it on my kids when they were little only out of the can…what a hoot..so funny..now if they had served it at McD’s they might have ate it…
    We love grits cooked the right way…I have eaten grits in restuarants that would make you sick as a dog…no wonder travelers though Applachia would say, “How can those people eat that stuff.” A first badly cooked grit experience will ruin your taste for grits for life…LOL For us, mush and hominy corn are not in our meal plan but good old grits and butter for breakfast and occasional cheese grits for supper is a mainstay…

  • Reply
    Sallie Covolo
    November 8, 2009 at 10:09 am

    I never had it, my great grandfather ran a grist mill near the Qualla Boundary, so it seems like I ought to have had some.
    I like oatmeal and grits and cream of wheat.
    We used to crumble cornbread into milk and sit on the porch of a night eating it..(summer nights)

  • Reply
    November 8, 2009 at 9:48 am

    No, I’ve never had mush. Grits, cornmeal mush and such are not something I grew up with. Not a popular food in the Appalachian foothills that I grew up in.

  • Reply
    November 8, 2009 at 9:30 am

    I’ve never had it, but I love corn bread. Might be worth a try!

  • Reply
    Just Jackie
    November 8, 2009 at 8:46 am

    eeeeewwwwwwwwwwwwwwww. I hate cornmeal mush. My mom used to fix it on cold mornings. Not only did I hate it the first time it was served, I hated it even more the next day when she had sliced it and fried it. I’ll eat grits, I’ll eat Cream of Wheat but never cornmeal mush. (I hate oatmeal, too) LOL

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