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 sweetcorn, 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 sweetcorn with fresh green husks and soft yellow to light brown tassels - the darker the tassels, the riper the sweetcorn. The kernels should be plump, pale and tightly arranged. They darken as the sweetcorn 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 to April.
STORE Refrigerate in plastic bags and use as soon as possible.
HOW TO PREPARE Remove the husk and tassels, trim ends, cut as required. To 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. To grill wrap corn in aluminium foil after blanch and refreshing first. To barbecue leave the husk on. To microwave leave the husk on, and depending on the microwave’s power, each cob will take two to three minutes on high power. Cool before removing the husk and tassels. Carefully remove kernels from a raw or cooked cob, using a sharp knife, 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 or stir fry (kernels).
NUTRITION Sweetcorn 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 and 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 acid, are also present.
TRY THESE IDEAS;
• Barbecued or char-grilled corn cobs in the husk
• Mini sweetcorn fritters as pass-arounds
• 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 sour dough
• Corn kernels with diced red onions, tomatoes and capsicums as a salsa
• Corn kernels added to cornbread dough
• Fish or scallop chowder with sweetcorn kernels added
• Sweetcorn with diced chilli and lime juice served with chargrilled meats.