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Sweet corn

Sweet Corn


We recommend eating corn within a day of receiving it. Today's varieties keep better than in the past, but corn does start turning to starch once it is harvested. Don't hesitate to eat corn raw since the less it is cooked the better. The most common method of cooking corn is to boil it, but steaming tends to maintain the flavour better. You can also grill, roast or microwave corn. If you need to store the corn, keep it in the husks, wrap each ear in a damp towel and place in a plastic bag with air holes in the refrigerator.

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Origins and Culture

Corn belongs to the grass family. Over a period of thousands of years, starting somewhere around 7,000 BC, Native Central Americans purposefully transformed wild grass (Teosinte) into maize through special cultivation techniques. The ancestral kernels of Teosinte looked very different from today's corn. The kernels were small and were not fused together like the kernels on the husked ear of early maize and modern corn. The first ears of maize were only a few inches long and had only eight rows of kernels. Cob length and size of early maize grew over the next several thousand years, which gradually increased the yields of each crop. In fact, theory suggests that at one time, each individual kernel was covered by its own floral parts similar to the kernels of oats and barley, and that the cob readily broke down into small segments.
Corn was one of the Three Sisters of Native American agriculture, along with squash and beans. When Jacques Cartier visited the village of Hochelaga (now Montreal) in 1535, he noted the corn growing alongside beans and squash, in all directions. There are records of Champlain finding corn growing in the area of Georgian Bay in 1615. Also, archeological studies have found that corn was grown near Campbellville, Ontario before 1200 AD.
It is known that tribes in southern New England harvested great amounts of maize and dried them in heaps upon mats. The drying piles of maize, usually two or three for each family, often contained from 12 to 20 bushels of the grain. Surplus maize would be stored in underground storage pits, ingeniously constructed and lined with grasses to prevent mildew or spoiling, for winter consumption of the grain.

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Nutritional and Medicinal Properties

Corn is an excellent source of carbohydrates. One ear of corn contains 2% of the recommended daily allowance for vitamin A and for iron, 10% for vitamin C, and corn is a decent source of B vitamins. Corn has some antiviral and anticancer properties, and it may help neutralize stomach acid. One note of caution is that corn causes allergic reactions for some people and has been implicated in contributing to some forms of chronic fatigue.

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How it is grown and when it is in season

Unfortunately, more and more corn on the market is grown from genetically modified seeds. While gene drift from GMO corn is a growing concern for organic farmers, you can be assured that certified organic growers must adhere to a rigorous process to insure that their seeds are not genetically modified. Farmers must also demonstrate that there is an adequate buffer zone to prevent gene drift from conventional farms from contaminating their organic crop.
One of the primary challenges confronting organic growers is preventing corn bore. Proper crop rotation, companion planting, soil fertility and careful selection are the main ways in which organic growers control it. Yields from organic growers tend to be lower due to corn bore, which is one reason the price is higher than non-organic corn.

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Basic Cooking Instructions

During the summer months when it is available fresh, it is most often cooked and eaten on the cob. Sweet corn is also cut off the cob and eaten as a vegetable side dish or added as an ingredient to other dishes, such as soups, stews, casseroles, and salads. The corn can be cut from the cob, raw or cooked, and then preserved by canning or freezing for future use.
The most popular way to eat sweet corn is on the cob. It is generally husked before cooking but can be cooked using methods that call for the husks to be left on. When boiling sweet corn, avoid adding salt to the water because it will cause the corn to toughen when it cooks. Also, it is important to cook the corn only until it is tender. Overcooking will cause the corn to lose its sweet flavor and will cause the kernels to become tough.

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