Corn is the common name of maize. Corn is a kind of cereal and grown as a grass that is domesticated for eating purposes. Basically, ‘corn’ is the common term for maize in UK and Ireland. Usually, corn having high sugar content is termed as ‘sweet corn’. Corn or sweet corn both are commonly used as a culinary ingredient. Various corn dishes are prepared as side dishes, appetizers and it is also added in main dishes as one of the ingredient. Some of the most popular corn recipes are popcorn, sweet and spicy corn and corn salad.
History of Corn
Since prehistoric times, corns are cultivated and domesticated by the Mesoamericans. The Aztecs have also cultivated the crop and spread it in central as well as in southern parts of Mexico. In the time period of 1250-1700, the crop of maize or corn has spread in entire American continent. The Europeans carried the crop to their continent in the end of the 15th century. After that the popularity of corn has spread to the entire world due to the reason that it can be grown in diverse climatic conditions.
Culinary Use of Corn
Corn has diversified usage in culinary world. Mostly the sweet corn variety is used in making corn dishes. Corn or maize is considered a staple food in many parts of world. The most commonly made corn recipe is popcorn. The corn kernels exploded on heating and form popcorn. It is a very popular snack across the world. The sweet corn variety of corn is commonly eaten as raw and fondly used in soups, salads and many other cooked dishes. As a garnish, sweet corn is a very popular ingredient. Corn is widely used in making cornmeal. Cornmeal is the ground form of dried corns. It can easily substitute wheat and widely used in making cornbread and ‘makki ki roti’(Indian bread). The most common breakfast cereal is cornflakes and that is also one the most popular corn recipes. Corn can also be grated and transform into puree to make ice creams and cakes. Cornstarch and corn flour are also some of the most popular processed forms of corn and extensively used in making several corn dishes. Oil is extracted from corns and used as cooking oil.
Popular Corn Recipes
• Makki ki roti – It’s a very popular Indian bread made up of cornmeal.
• Hominy – It is one of the most popular corn recipes in Mexican cuisine. It is made up of dried corn.
• Corn on the cob – In USA, corn on the cob is usually sold by hawkers as a street food.
• Canjica – In this corn recipe, corn kernels are mixed with sweetened milk and boiled. It is one of the most popular Brazilian corn recipes.
• Pamonhas – Corn is the main ingredient in this another Brazilian dish.
• Tortilla- These are chips made up of cornmeal and one of the most commonly eaten corn recipes in Mexican cuisine.
Cuisines Commonly Making Corn Recipes
Corn is used as a staple ingredient in most of the world cuisines. Corn is used in various forms in several cuisines. Cornmeal is fondly used in making polenta in Italian cuisine. Brazilian and Romanian cuisines are also famous for making corn recipes such as angu, mamaliga and canjica. Sajda and Ugali are some of the most popular US corn dishes that are equally delicious as of mealie pap in African cuisine. All these mentioned dishes have one thing in common that all include corn or maize as the main ingredient. Tortilla, the most popular Mexican snack is also the product of cornmeal and hence considered as one of the most commonly eaten corn dishes across the world. Corn on the cob is a fondly eaten snack in many countries such as USA, UK, India and Canada. A popular Vietnamese snack is dried corn kernels mixed with chopped green onion and seasoned with oil and salt. In many other global cuisines also, corn is used in many forms in making corn dishes.
Preferred Methods of Making Corn Dishes
• Boiled – Corn is boiled in water or milk to make various corn dishes such as corn soup and Brazilian sweet dish, canjica.
• Roasted – Roasted and seasoned corn kernels are widely eaten as snack.
• Grilled – Grilled corns are quite popular as a snack or it can be added to various other cooked dishes as a garnish.
• Blended – Corn is grated from the cob and processed in the blender to make corn puree.
• Grounded – Dried corns are grounded to make cornmeal and corn flour.
• Steamed – Steamed corn can be eaten as an appetizer and also be added in salads.
Nutritive Value of Corn
• Corn is an excellent source of dietary fibers that helps in reducing cholesterol and also lowers the risk of cancer from colon.
• For diabetic patients, corn is a preferred cereal.
• Corn dishes are high in folate and highly beneficial in forming the new cells hence very nutritive for pregnant ladies.
• The consumption of corn dishes also proved to be beneficial in curing constipation and other digestive problems.
• For better cardiovascular health, corn should be consumed regularly, but in moderation. Other than the above mentioned health benefits, corns are also rich in proteins, vitamins A, B and C. Potassium and phosphorus are also found in corn dishes.
Buying and Storing of Corn
• Corn should be purchased by fully examining the kernels. The kernels should be tightly placed on the cob.
• Broken and loose kernels are not the signs of good quality corns.
• If buying sweet corn, it is recommended to buy branded sweet corns that are in packaged form.
• Check the ‘sell by’ date on the packet because sweet corns are highly perishable.
• Corn can be stored in dry and normal temperature.
• Sweet corns should be stored in refrigerator and it would be better if kept in freezer.
• Frozen corns can be stored for up to 2-3 weeks.
Types of Corn
• Dent corn – This variety is mainly used to feed livestock. It is usually known as ‘field corn’. Dent is also used in making processed corn recipes.
• Flint corn – It is popularly known as ‘Indian corn’ and has varied uses in culinary world. Its kernels vary in color from white to red.
• Sweet corn – This type of corn is basically used for eating raw and for canning and freezing purposes.
• An average American consumes 25 pounds of corn every year.
• Almost two hundred varieties of corn exist in the world.