Interestingly, corn doesn’t grow naturally in the wild and only survives when protected. It’s believed that indigenes living in present day Mexico about 4,000 years ago discovered the corn plant from a wild grass mutation. It then spread through South and Central America, becoming a stable food there.
Peaks mid-August through September, but available from June to January.
Baby corn: Popular in Thai cuisine, where it’s referred to as candle corn, this corn is hand-picked immature, as soon as the corn silks emerge from the ears. It can be enjoyed raw or cooked, with its texture not changing a great deal.
Blue corn: One of the oldest corn varieties, it’s commonly used to make flour because of its high protein content. In Mexico, where it is a staple vegetable, it’s used in tortillas, chips and tamales.
Sweet corn: The most widely grown corn, sweet corn’s ‘sweetness’ is the result of early harvesting before the sugars can turn to starch. Because of this, sweet corn doesn’t preserve well and must be eaten, canned or frozen before the kernels become tough. It can be grilled, steamed or boiled for salads and creams.
White corn: Distinctive for its pale colour, this sweet vegetable is traditional in warm climates and a staple in African cuisine. It can be roasted, boiled or steamed.
Make sure that the hulks are green and intact. Pull back the hulks and inspect the kernels, they should look even and tightly packed. As a sign of freshness, check that there are no dried silks. Avoid corn that has been at the market under the sun for too long.
Corn can be refrigerated with or without hulks. If freezing corn, you’ll need to blanch it beforehand. Corn on the cob should be blanched for 7-9 minutes, corn off the cob for 4 minutes. Let it cool and place in a sealed container.