Fresh sweet corn, eaten on the cob with salt
and a little butter is deliciously sweet. Some gardeners who grow it to
have a pan ready on the boil, so that when they cut the corn it goes
into the pan in only the time it takes to race up from the garden to the
kitchen. Buying it from the supermarket is inevitably a bit hit-or-miss,
although if purchased in season, sweet corn can be very good indeed.
History : Corn originated in South
America and had enormous significance to the native Indians of the whole
continent, who were said to have lived and died by corn. They referred
to it as their "first mother and father, the source of life". By far
their most important food, corn was used in many other ways as well.
They used the plant for their shelters and for fences, and they wore it
and decorated their bodies with it. The Aztecs had corn planting
ceremonies that included human sacrifices, and other tribes had similar
customs to appease the god "corn". Countless myths and legends have been
woven around corn, each tribe telling a slightly different story, but
each on the same theme of planting and harvesting corn. For
anthropologists and historians, they make compelling study.
Nutrition : Corn is a good
carbohydrate food and is rich in vitamins A, B and C. It contains
protein, but less so than most other cereals. It is also a good source
of potassium, magnesium, phosphorus and iron.
Varieties : There are five main
varieties of corn - popcorn, sweet corn, dent corn, flint corn and flour
corn. Dent corn is the most commonly grown worldwide, for animal feeds
and oil, and the corn we eat on the corn is sweet corn. Baby sweet corn
cobs are picked when immature and are cooked and eaten whole.
Buying and Storing : As soon as corn
is picked, its sugar begins to turn to starch and therefore the sooner
it goes into the pot, the better. Whenever possible, buy locally grown
sweet corn. Look for husks that are clean and green and tassels which
are golden, with no sigh of matting. The corn itself should look plump
and yellow. Avoid cobs with pale or white kernels or those with older
shriveled kernels which will undoubtedly be disappointing.
Preparing : Strip away the husks. To
use the kernels for recipes, cut downwards using a sharp knife from top
Cooking : Cook corn-on-the-cob in
plenty of boiling salted water until tender. Timing depends on the size
of the cobs but 10-15 minutes will normally be enough. Serve them with
sea salt and butter, but if the cobs are really sweet, leave out the
butter. Stir-fry baby sweet corn cobs briefly and serve in oriental