Grits, properly known as hominy grits, is a food made from corn that has been treated with an alkali in a process called nixtamalization, which is ground into a meal and then boiled. Grits are usually served with other flavorings as a breakfast dish, usually savory. It is popular in the Southern United States. It may also be found as an evening entrée when made with shrimp. Grits should not be confused with boiled ground corn maize which makes “hasty pudding” or “mush” or when using coarse ground corn, may be made into polenta.
Grits have their origin in Native American corn preparation. Traditionally, the hominy for grits was ground on a stone mill. The ground hominy is then passed through screens, the finer sifted material used as grit meal, and the coarser as grits. Many American communities used a gristmill until the mid-twentieth century, farmers bringing their corn to be ground, and the miller keeping a portion as his fee. State law in South Carolina requires grits and rice meal to be enriched, similar to the requirement for flour, unless the grits were made from the corn a miller kept as his fee.
Three-quarters of grits sold in the U.S. are bought in the South, in an area stretching from Texas to Virginia that is sometimes called the “grits belt”. The state of Georgia declared grits its official prepared food in 2002.