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About Polenta
Polenta is an Italian word which refers both to milled corn and to the dish that is prepared from the milled corn. Corn was originally a New World crop that was cultivated by Native Americans in the sub-tropical mountainous regions of Central America. The plant found its ideal growing environment in that location because the growing season was long (up to 6 months), the climate was hot with abundant rainfall and the nights were cool because of the elevation. European explorers brought back to corn back to the Old World where it was adapted through plant breeding to grow in a much different climate where the growing season was short. But Italians and especially poor people in Northern Italy learned to cook a dish from thecorn. The dish became known as "polenta" and is now a favorite all over the world.

Polenta is prepared by adding the ground corn to simmering or boiling liquid while stirring. The stirring continues on the heat until the polenta sets up and becomes firm with the consistency of thick Cream of Wheat. At that point the polenta can be eaten straight from the pot as a main dish or as a side dish or it can be spread onto a wooden plank or a cookie sheet and allowed to cool. As it cooled it will solidify further reaching the consistency of a soft cake. That cake can then be cut into squares or rectangles and cooked again by frying, baking or broiling. Historically, the cooking process was laborious and time consuming and required that the cook stand at the pot stirring for 20 minutes to an hour.

Because this cooking time was inconvenient, producers of polenta developed two responses. First, they partially cooked the polenta and then dehydrated it and reconstituted it as "instant" polenta which could then be cooked again in the home needing only 3-5 minutes of stirring. Second, they completely cooked the polenta and then packed it into pre-cooked tubes where it hardened into the soft cake consistency. Both of these techniques shortened the preparation time considerably but both had their disadvantages in taste and flexibility. Many consumers, especially those seeking organic foods, avoided prepared, pre-cooked foods in favor of the real thing.

De la Estancia polenta is unique among all the polentas because it cooks faster than the instant variety and is more flexible than the hard polenta found in the tube variety but de la Estancia polenta is NOT pre-cooked, processed or treated in any way. It is a completely natural product that cooks quickly because the corn that grows in Argentina is different than the corn grown in Europe and the United States and results in a superior polenta.

Argentine corn is a sub-tropical variety of orange/yellow corn, called flint corn, which is not successfully grown in the Northern Hemisphere. Flint corn requires a much longer growing season - up to 7 months in the field including a period of natural drying in the sun, nearly twice as long as the corn grown in North America or Europe. It also benefits from the cool nights found in the foothills of the Andes Mountains. Of course the yield of flint corn is substantially less than for common corn but lower quantity is a small price to pay for higher quality.

The physical characteristics of flint corn are different from ordinary corn ?flint corn is harder, has a higher protein content, has less starch and yields a product which is more intensely yellow in color. The hardness of the kernels is fundamental because it allows us to more closely control the milling process and we can obtain a finer grind of polenta. This in turn results in the polenta being smoother and creamier. The low starch level also means that the polenta is less gluey. The grind and the low starch level mean that de la Estancia polenta cooks much faster than traditional polenta - de la Estancia polenta cooks in just 1 minute. It simply cooks fast naturally.