Sweetcorn – on the Menu this December

corn vegetable of the month

Sweetcorn, corn or maize came from the American continent but is now grown throughout the world.

In grain form, maize is the staple diet for American Indians in Mexico, Peru and Southern North America. A sweet version of maize was developed, resulting in the name sweet corn, and it became a popular fresh vegetable in the 1960s. Several varieties are available; some with white kernels and others with a mix of yellow and white kernels. Varieties differ in sweetness, and recently super-sweet varieties have become available.

What to look for:
Choose sweet corn with fresh green husks and soft yellow to light brown tassels - the darker the tassels, the riper the sweet corn. The kernels should be plump, pale and tightly arranged. The kernels darken as the sweet corn matures. Varieties vary in sweetness and colour – yellow and white and sometimes bi-coloured. There is no consistent relationship between colour and sweetness, but the darker the colour the greater presence of carotenoids.

Availability:
December - April.

Store:
Refrigerate in plastic bags and use as soon as possible.

How to prepare:
Remove husk and tassels, trim ends, cut as required.
Boil: place the cob in boiling water and by the time the water has returned to boiling the corn will be cooked. Overcooking makes the corn kernels tough. Grill: wrap corn in aluminium foil. Blanch and refresh first. Barbecue: leave husk on. Microwave: leave husk on, and depending on the microwave's power, each cob takes 2-3 minutes on 100%. Cool before removing the husk and tassels.
Kernels: To remove kernels from a raw or cooked cob, use a sharp knife to carefully cut off the kernels and use in salads and other savoury dishes.

Ways to eat:
Eat cooked on the cob or stir fry kernels with a little oil. Use kernels in corn fritters, or add to salads.

Cooking Methods:
Boil, steam, microwave, grill, stir fry (kernels).

Nutrition:
Sweet corn is a good source of carbohydrate and contains a range of nutrients, especially B group vitamins. It is a source of vitamin C, niacin, thiamine, folate and contains dietary fibre plus a dietary significant amount of potassium.  Phytonutrients include carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin, which are of particular interest due to their association with eye health.  Phenolic compounds, namely phenolic acids, are also present.

Try these ideas:

  • Barbecue or char-grill corn cobs in the husk
  • Mini sweetcorn fritters with sweet chilli sauce
  • Sweetcorn fritters or waffles for brunch or lunch
  • Corn chutneys and pickles
  • Sweetcorn and chicken soup
  • Corn and Thai flavours simmered in coconut milk
  • Corn husks used to line muffin pans for corn muffins and frittatas
  • Corn kernels and goats cheese grilled on toasted sourdough
  • Corn kernels with diced red onions, celery and capsicums as a salsa
  • Corn kernels added to cornbread dough
  • Sweetcorn kernels added to fish or scallop chowders
  • Sweetcorn with diced chilli and lime juice served with chargrilled meats