- Written by Rob Galloway
Maize (Zea Mays) or Corn has been used as a food source for 1000's of years and is one of the most important food sources to humans as it is consumed directly and indirectly as feed for livestock. Hundreds of millions of tons of Maize are produced every year for direct or indirect human consumption with uses varying from vegetables for the table to ethanol to power motor vehicles.
Corn has many uses in food around the world in many cuisines whether it be in its natural form as at table vegetable or in a extremely processed forms such as High Fructose Corn Syrup. Historically corn was highly valued due to the fact that it is very easy to store and preserve for use in winter months.
Corn Meal or Corn Flour
Corn meal or Corn Flour is a coarse ground flour which is commonly used to make cornbread and breadlike dishes such as tortillas, porridge , batters , breading, snackfoods like corn chips or , polenta, and many other foods.
Corn starch is also confusingly, referred to as corn flour in British and Australian recipes. Corn starch is a very fine powder which is made from the Endosperm or fermentable starch which makes up about 80% of the kernel. Corn flour is commonly used as a thickening agent for gravies and saucesces , or as an ingredient in baked goods such as shortbread.
Corn syrup is made by extracting the corn starch from corn and then using a chemical process called acid hydrolysis which results in normal corn syrup which is commonly used as a sweetener which also prevents sugar crystalization. This is a different product to contraversial industrial sweetner known as High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) which is a very cheap sweetner which is commonly used in mass produced confectionaries and soda . HFCS is produced by taking regular corn syrup and distilling it to make it even sweeter, you won't find HFCS is easy to purchase unless you are looking to buy it by the metric ton direct from a manufacturer.
Sweet corn is a variety of corn which has a higher sugar content than other varieties and is commonly eaten as a table vegetable. Sweet corn is harvested and eaten or preserved before it is fully mature , prior to the natural sugars being converted to starch. in my view the best corn is freshly roasted in its husk on the cob and smothered in butter.
Corn on the cob
Popcorn is made by heating corn kernels causing the dense endosperm to expand and explode through the hard sealed hull. Popcorn is commonly eaten as a snack smothered in butter or other toppings.