Sweet Corn – maiz, is a variety of maize with a high sugar content. Unlike field corn varieties, which are harvested when the kernels are dry and mature, sweet corn is picked when immature and prepared and eaten as a vegetable, rather than a grain.

Sweet Corn was grown by several Native American tribes and it soon became a popular food in southern and central regions of the United States. Sweet Corn likes free-draining, moisture retentive soil and are best planted in large blocks. Be aware that the plants will grow very tall.

The fruit of the Sweet Corn plant is the corn kernel and the ear is a collection of kernels on the cob. There is always an even number of rows of kernels and the ear is covered by tightly wrapped leaves called the husk. Silk is the name for the flowers which emerge from the husk and these are both removed by hand before boiling, but not before roasting.

Also known as ‘corn on the cob’, Sweet Corn is composed of rows of tightly packed golden yellow kernels, growing along a tough central core. When ripe, the kernels are sweet and juicy and are best cooked simply, with a little butter. Like peas, the natural sugars in the kernels turn to starch quite quickly, which makes the kernels tougher and less sweet, so it should be eaten as fresh as possible. Sweet Corn still in its husk keeps fresher for longer. Look for kernels that are tightly packed, plump, shiny and golden yellow and smaller at the tip than they are in the middle (this indicates a young cob). The husks should be green, unblemished and fit snugly. When Sweet Corn is really fresh, the kernels will release a milky liquid when cut. Sweet Corn freezes well and can also be bought in tins.

The Sweet Corn kernels can be boiled or steamed. In Europe and Asia, they are often used as a pizza topping, or in salads as well as in other dishes such as soups and stir fried recipes. ‘Corn on the cob’ is a sweet corn cob that has been boiled, steamed, or grilled whole on a BBQ. The kernels are then covered in butter and eaten directly off the cob or cut off. Creamed corn is Sweet Corn served in a milk or cream sauce. Sweet Corn can also be eaten as baby corn, but it can be a bit bland, so is often added to dishes such as stir fries. Sweet Corn can also be used in cakes and puddings.

Cooked Sweet Corn increases levels of ferulic acid, which has anti-cancer properties.