AskDefine | Define grits

Dictionary Definition

grits n : coarsely ground hulled corn boiled as a breakfast dish in the southern United States [syn: hominy grits]

User Contributed Dictionary




grits (singular)
  1. In the context of "Western Hemisphere": Coarsely ground hominy which is boiled and eaten, primarily in the Southern United States.


  1. third-person singular of grit

Extensive Definition

Grits is a corn-based food common in the Southern United States, consisting of coarsely ground corn. This is similar to many other thick maize-based porridges from around the world such as polenta. It also has a lesser resemblance to farina, a thinner porridge.
Hominy grits is another term for grits, but explicitly refers to grits made from nixtamalized corn, or hominy.
Yellow speckled grits is also very popular in the southern states, named for the black specks in its yellow body.


Traditionally the corn for grits is ground by a stone mill. The results are passed through screens, with the finer part being corn meal, and the coarser being grits. Many communities in the Southern U.S. used a gritsmill up until the mid-20th century, with families bringing their own corn to be ground, and the miller retaining a portion of the corn for his fee. In South Carolina, state law requires grits and corn meal to be enriched, similar to the requirements for flour, unless the grits are ground from corn where the miller keeps part of the product for his fee.
Three-quarters of grits sold in the United States are sold in the "grits belt" stretching from Texas to North Carolina. The state of Georgia declared grits its official prepared food in 2002. Similar bills have been introduced in South Carolina, with one declaring: ''Whereas, throughout its history, the South has relished its grits, making them a symbol of its diet, its customs, its humour, and its hospitality, and whereas, every community in the State of South Carolina used to be the site of a grits mill and every local economy in the State used to be dependent on its product; and whereas, grits has been a part of the life of every South Carolinian of whatever race, background, gender, and income; and whereas, grits could very well play a vital role in the future of not only this State, but also the world, if as Charleston's The Post and Courier proclaimed in 1952: An inexpensive, simple, and thoroughly digestible food, [grits] should be made popular throughout the world. Given enough of it, the inhabitants of planet Earth would have nothing to fight about. A man full of [grits] is a man of peace.
The word "grits" comes from Old English grytta'' meaning a coarse meal of any kind. An alternative etymology holds that it is a corruption of the word "grist" by African American slaves.
Grits is also the staple diet of many African countries, primarily because corn is hardy and easy to grow. In these cultures, the grits is often crushed using wooden poles (no mill) and cooked in three-legged cast-iron pots over a fire.
Yellow grits include the whole kernel, while white grits use hulled kernels. Grits are prepared by simply boiling the ground kernels into a porridge; normally it is boiled until enough water evaporates to leave it semi-solid. It is traditionally served during breakfast, but can be used at any meal.


grits in German: Grießbrei
grits in Chinese: 葛子
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