Maize is one of the most widespread food crops in the world. What should we know about her?
Do you know all the known types of corn? What is each corn used for? And how to store it properly? Read our article and learn everything!
Maize, an important crop of today, which is full of nutrients
Maize (Zea) is a plant in the Poaceae family and is known for its edible grain.¹
The domesticated crop comes from America.
Maize is used as livestock feed, as human food, as biofuel, and as a raw material in industry.
Did you know that there is a special type of corn that is used to make popcorn?
How to properly prepare corn in steam, in the oven or on the grill?
Let’s check it out together!
Types of corn
According to the quality of the grain, we can divide corn into 5 basic types:
- Sweet Corn (Sweet)
This type of corn is commonly sold here and you can get it either fresh, frozen or canned. Its seeds contain a lot of sugar, vitamin B and fiber.
We know popcorn mainly thanks to the popular popcorn in the form of roasted popped kernels. Heating their grains causes the starch inside to swell, making the grains larger.
- Horse tooth corn
This type of corn is primarily grown as animal feed and we know it as fodder corn. It is characterized by a depression on each dry grain.
- Flour corn
This corn has soft and mealy kernels that are easily ground into flour. It is mainly used for the production of flour and corn tortillas.
- Indian corn (ornamental)
Indian corn is used for garnish and has rounded, firm kernels.
Health benefits of corn
Eating corn can lead to better gut health and reduce the risk of diseases such as cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Thanks to the fiber contained in corn, you will stay full longer. It also nourishes healthy bacteria in your digestive tract , which can help protect against colon cancer.
Eating popcorn may also help prevent diverticulitis , a condition that causes pouches in the walls of the colon. In a large study, men who ate more popcorn had a lower risk of developing diverticular disease.
Corn is rich in vitamin C , an antioxidant that helps protect cells from damage and ward off diseases such as cancer and heart disease. Corn also contains small amounts of vitamins B, E, and K, and minerals such as magnesium and potassium .
|Vitamins and minerals per 100 g of raw sweet corn||Amount||% of the recommended daily dose|
|Pantothenic acid||0.717 mg||14%|
|Vitamin A||187 IU||6%|
|Vitamin C||6.8 mg||11%|
|Vitamin E||0.07 mg||<1%|
|Vitamin K||0.3 µg||2%|
Nutritional values of sweet corn
Nutritional values are changed by heat treatment of corn. Let’s see together how much.
|Nutritional values²||Boiled sweet corn 100 g||Raw sweet corn 100 g|
|Proteins||3.4 grams (g)||3.27 g|
|Fat||1.5 g||1.35 g|
|Carbohydrates||21 g||18.7 g|
|Fiber||2.4 g||2 g|
Risks of eating corn
Corn is a starchy vegetable , as are potatoes and peas. This means that it contains sugar and carbohydrates , which can raise blood sugar levels. However, it can still be a healthy part of your diet as long as you don’t overdo it. If you have diabetes, you don’t necessarily have to avoid it, but watch your portion sizes.
Corn also contains antinutrients , which are compounds that prevent your body from absorbing nutrients as well as it should. Soaking corn can help remove many of them.
Pour water into a large saucepan and stir with ½ cup sugar and 1/2 cup salt until dissolved. Place 8 large ears of corn in a pot and soak for at least 30 minutes, but no longer than 8 hours.
Choose the best corn
Before you start preparing corn, you need to get it first. Ideally, buy sweet corn , which is commonly available in all stores. Corn from the field is nutritious , not so sweet, nor does it taste very good.
Check the husks on the corn. You are interested in the ones that are green, firm and not dried out. You also don’t want little holes in the skins because those are from worms. Also remove hair and leaves before cooking.
How to prepare corn
You can boil, stew, roast or grill corn on the cob. For faster cooking, put the corn in the microwave for about 2 minutes.
Corn goes well with meat. Try our stewed meat recipes 6 different ways!
Or would you rather add it to one of our one-pot recipes ? They are delicious!
Also get inspired by our recipes for Mexican soups that you will love!
Use a squeeze of lime, a teaspoon of olive oil, or a pinch of chili or smoked paprika to season the corn.
When you’re short on time, frozen and canned corn are good substitutes for fresh corn.
First, remove the husks from the corn, as well as the thin hairs that cling to each ear. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the corn to the boiling water and cook, uncovered, until the kernels are tender and golden. It usually takes about 3-5 minutes. Serve the corn prepared in this way with butter, salt and pepper. You can also make it special by adding one of the dips .
Corn baked in the oven
We bring you the 3 easiest ways to bake corn in the oven.
- Roasting corn in the husks
All you have to do is trim the silk at the top of each ear and place the ears on the oven rack. The skin will dry out and pull out in the oven, browning a few grains, but also making it even easier to remove the skin after baking. The taste is slightly sweet and less caramelized than when baking corn without the husks. This method is best if you don’t have much time to prepare for shelling and want to start the corn right away. Done in about 30 minutes.
- Roasting corn without husks
Baking regular shelled cobs in the oven will result in a beautifully caramelized cob, but it will also be a bit drier. So serve it with lots of butter or a cream sauce.
- Baking corn in foil with butter
This method is suitable for all butter corn lovers. Peel the corn, wrap it in foil with a piece of butter and bake until soft. The corn cobs prepared in this way will basically steam inside the foil and the corn will be tender and sweet.
We have two ways you can grill corn on the cob, and both are absolutely delicious.
- In the shell
In this method, corn cobs are steamed in the husk, yielding juicy, tender kernels that are bright yellow. Pull the skin down but leave it attached and remove the silk. Then pull the husk back up and soak the corn with the husk for 10 minutes. Soaking will hydrate the skins and prevent them from burning too much on the grill. After soaking, dry the corn and grill it in the husk until it softens and light marks form on it.
- Right on the grill
Remove the silk and husk from the corn and grill it directly on the grill. The beans will not be as juicy as they will lose some of their moisture on the hot grill grates. However, they will be nicely charred and full of smoky flavor. This method is great if you don’t have that much time, because in this case you don’t have to soak the corn and the whole process takes only a few minutes.
Whichever method you choose, serve the grilled corn hot, with olive oil or butter and plenty of salt and pepper.
Pan roasted corn
Husk the corn. Brush lightly with olive oil and season with salt. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, put the corn in the pan. Using tongs, turn the corn every few minutes to brown it all over. Brush the corn with a little olive oil as needed. If the corn is browning or burning too quickly, reduce the heat slightly. Roast for 7-10 minutes until the corn is tender.
Steaming corn on the cob is one of the easiest and tastiest ways you can prepare corn. You only need two ingredients for this: corn and water. The steaming process is very quick and this method brings out the best flavor and texture of fresh, seasonal corn. You will also need a pot and a steamer.
Peel 3 ears of corn and remove the silk. Cut off any discolored beans or any that have been damaged by insects. Depending on the size of your steamer, you may need to cut the corn on the cob in half to fit it. Add 5 cm of water to a large pot and insert the steamer. Make sure the water does not touch the bottom of the steamer. If so, pour out some water. Cover the pot and bring the water to a boil over high heat.
When the water starts to boil, place the corn in the steamer using tongs. Cover the pot and let the corn steam for 4 minutes, or until it turns dark yellow and crispy. If you prefer softer corn, steam for 7 minutes. For the softest corn, steam for 10 to 15 minutes. The longer you steam the corn, the more attention you need to pay to the water level. Don’t let it fall below 2.5 cm or it may evaporate and burn your pot. Turn off the burner and carefully remove the corn from the pot using tongs. Serve as is or with butter, salt and pepper.
If you can’t process it right away, leave the skins on and refrigerate the cobs. The cold will keep them fresh for up to 5 days.
Corn can also be frozen in 3 ways :
- Blanch it first and then freeze the whole ears.
- Blanch and freeze only the grains.
- Skip blanching and freeze raw grains.
Blanching minimizes the inevitable change in texture that comes with freezing while helping to preserve the wonderful flavor of the corn.
For proper blanching, fill the largest pot you have with water and bring to a boil. Add the shelled corn on the cob for 2 1/2 minutes, then drain and place in a bowl of ice cold water. Cut the kernels off the cob by cutting the corn vertically using a sharp knife and place in resealable bags.
Frozen corn can last up to a year .
Cornmeal is a type of flour that is ground from dried whole corn kernels . It is usually yellow, but can also be white or blue depending on the variety of corn that is used. The texture is soft and smooth, similar to wholemeal flour. It’s extremely versatile and you can incorporate it into bread recipes, muffins, waffles, pancakes, battered and fried foods, and more .
Don’t confuse cornmeal with masa harina³, the staple flour of Mexican cuisine , used to make tortillas, tamales, and pupusas. Masa harina has a fine, smooth texture and is made from finely ground corn kernels that have been soaked in lime water or calcium hydroxide.
Cornstarch is a white chalky powder used as a thickener in sauces and stews . Unlike cornmeal, which is made from whole grains, cornstarch is made from the endosperm of the corn kernel⁴. The starches inside the endosperm are removed, rinsed, dried and ground into a fine powder. The other parts of the kernel, the husk and the germ, are separated and processed into other corn products such as corn oil and corn bran.
Corn oil is a refined vegetable oil widely used in cooking and especially frying . It is also commonly used for industrial purposes or as an ingredient in cosmetics. To make corn oil, corn must go through a complex refining process. This process gives the oil many unique properties, although not all of them are positive.
A viscous sweet syrup made by breaking down (hydrolyzing) corn starch either by heating with dilute acid or by combining with enzymes⁵. Corn syrup is sold commercially as light or dark corn syrup.
The light corn syrup has been cleaned and decolored; it is used in pastries, jams and jellies and many other food products . Because it does not crystallize when heated, it is especially valued as an ingredient in candies. Dark corn syrup is made by combining corn syrup with molasses and caramel coloring and is sweeter than light corn syrup .
Dark corn syrup is used in the same way as light, but if a darker color and stronger flavor is desired; it is also used as a table syrup.
Corn cultivation and interesting facts
Maize was first domesticated by indigenous people in southern Mexico about 10,000 years ago. At the time of European settlement of North America, Native Americans taught the colonists to grow native grains. Since its introduction to Europe by Christopher Columbus and other explorers and colonizers, corn has spread to all areas of the world suitable for its cultivation. Today it is grown in more states than any other crop. Its biggest growers are the USA, Brazil, China and EU countries.⁶
Corn seeds do not germinate at temperatures below 10 degrees Celsius and are planted outdoors approximately 2 weeks after the last spring frost. It is important to plant corn as soon as possible because it requires a relatively long growing season with warm weather.
When is corn harvested?
Ears of sweet corn ripen between August and September . It is harvested at the stage of “milky” maturity . You can tell by piercing the grain and finding a milky liquid inside. If the liquid is clear, the corn is not ready yet. If you don’t find any liquid inside, the corn is already overripe.