A salad bar staple it may be, but when in season fresh sweet corn can add a wow factor to summer menus
With canned sweetcorn a mainstay of salad bars, jacket potato toppings and questionable vegetarian pizza options, it is perhaps understandable that its fresh counterpart is neglected by ‘proper’ chefs. Yet when cooked very fresh sweetcorn must be used promptly as the sugars start turning into less tasty starch as soon as it is harvested it can be a revelation.
Sweetcorn is essentially a variety of maize with a high sugar content, but unlike most other corn varieties it’s picked when immature (the ‘milk stage’) and consumed as a vegetable rather than a grain. Native American tribes were the first to cultivate the plant and most believe Christopher Columbus brought it back to the old world, along with tomatoes, potatoes and chilli plants.
A true corn star
As well as being a canned vegetable stalwart, sweetcorn is now a hugely important food processing ingredient. Corn syrup is the US go to and somewhat controversial sweetening and thickening agent, and a very close relative of sweetcorn provides popcorn. Polenta and corn flour are processed from other types of maize. (more…)