Sweetcorn is in fact a grain, as it’s a seed of a type of grass. The tassel at the top of a corn stalk is the male flower. It releases millions of grains of pollen, and some of that pollen is caught by the corn silk on the ear, which is the female flower. There is one piece of silk for each kernel of corn. The average ear of corn has 500 to 1000 kernels, and there is always an even number of kernels on an ear.
It’s the third most important crop in the world (after rice and wheat) and is native to the Americas.
Originally grown by first nation Americans, Columbus and Spanish explorers acquired the name “maize” from Taino Indians of the Caribbean region. This word was later translated into Greek: Zea mays which is the scientific name for corn.
Corn is cholesterol free. It’s a good source of vitamin C and A, potassium, thiamine and fibre, and it’s very high in antioxidants. Apparently it is good for haemorrhoids – you probably heard that here first!
Corn on the cob and cut corn is a 100% whole grain and is a gluten-free cereal, so you can use it safely in a celiac diet, like rice and quinoa.
When you are choosing corn on the cob, look for kernels that are tightly packed, plump, shiny and golden yellow, and a cob which is smaller at the tip than they are in the middle (as this indicates a young cob) and has an unblemished husk.
Thinking of growing your own? As the plants are wind pollinated they should be grown in blocks rather than rows.