What's the difference between stone-ground cornmeal and regular cornmeal? Kathleen Purvis of The Charlotte Observer presents the answer.

Q. What’s the difference between stone-ground cornmeal and regular cornmeal?

A. Regular cornmeal is ground between metal rollers and the hull and germ are removed so the texture is finer. It also may be enriched to return nutrients that are lost.

Stone-ground is ground between two stones, obviously. But there are more differences. The hull and germ of the corn kernel are usually left in, so the texture is coarser and the meal usually has a more noticeable “corn” flavor. It also is more perishable, so it should be stored in the refrigerator or freezer to keep it from getting rancid.

Beyond those differences, there also is the question of perception. “Stone-ground” has come to have a connotation of quality or the use of better corn. Like a lot of food marketing terms that aren’t regulated, that may or may not be true.

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For example, some stone-ground meals can qualify as a whole grain food for health purposes. But not all meals labeled “stone-ground” are made from whole grains. To find out, check the label for a phrase like “stone-ground whole corn.”

(c) 2009, The Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, N.C.).