Baby corn also known as candle corn is a cereal grain taken from the corn (maize) harvested early while its ears are very small and immature. Their ears are hand-picked from the branches as soon as the corn’s silks emerge from the ear tips or a few days after.
The harvest of baby corn must be timed carefully to avoid ending up with more mature corn ears. The stalk grows to only 61 cm high, thereby making the harvest much easier. Baby corn ears are typically 4.5 cm to 10 cm in length and 7 mm to 17 mm in diameter.
Many varieties of specialized corn plants are used to produce baby corn, which is an important crop in Thailand and Taiwan. Baby corn typically is eaten as a whole cob included in contrast to mature corn, whose cob is considered too tough for human consumption.
Baby corn is eaten both raw and cooked, however cooking does not change its culinary and physical properties significantly; the texture remains relatively the same, as does the taste, whether raw or cooked. Baby corn is most commonly used in Asian cuisine. Peak season for fresh corn is May through September.
Florida in United States is the number-one corn producer with California ranking second. Georgia, New York and Illinois also contribute significant supplies to the marketplace. Some corns are imported from Mexico. Corn is a versatile vegetable, extremely popular in Latin American cuisine.
Apart from using the kernels only, the husks can also be used. Tamales, a popular Mexican dish in which various fillings such as finely chopped meat, vegetables or fruits are wrapped in a cooked cornmeal layer rolled up in the softened cornhusks. Baby corns are widely available throughout the world in various forms like canned, frozen or dehydrated corn. Today, the most popular varieties of corn are white (Country Gentleman) and yellow (Golden Bantam).
Yellow corns have larger, buttery-flavored kernels, while white corn kernels are smaller and sweeter. Blue corn (which is literally blue) has the widest range of flavor components and is often used as an ingredient in chips. Our all time favorite past time snack while watching a movie is the popular popcorn which is made from one of the variety of corn that pops. Most often it is served plain or topped with butter.
Popcorn is also served topped with cheese, caramel and other flavorings. Indian corn has white, red, purple, brown, or multicolored kernels. It was the original corn grown by the Indians and is often used in the fall for Thanksgiving and Halloween decorations.
For best and fresh baby corns, buy the baby corn in the husk to maintain crispness and flavor. Refrigerate immediately to retain sweetness. Unhusked baby corn can be refrigerated for up to one week without losing its quality. Baby corn adds an excellent and special gourmet touch to many dishes and salads.
Its miniature size is appealing, as is the taste, color and crunch. The baby corn could be included in any stir fry dish or tossed with your favorite pasta or salad. Baby corn could also be made into delectable pakodas or fritters. Fresh sweet corn must be cooked and is generally steamed or boiled and served as a side dish.
Strip off the husks and silk just before cooking. Grilled corn on the cob is a rainy season favorite. Fresh corn kernels may be used as an ingredient in soups, stews, casseroles, puddings, relishes, and breads. Although baby corn may seem somewhat exotic, especially when served in Asian food, it is really the same type of corn that is served “on the cob.” Baby corn, unless overcooked will retain its crunchy texture, especially since you eat the whole corn including the core.
On its own, baby corn can have a slightly sweet flavor. More often cooks favor it because it retains the flavors of sauces applied to it and adds interesting texture and visual appeal to a dish. Most baby corn available in the US is grown in Asia, where the food is considered of high value and a delicacy. Baby corn is most often prepared whole, boiled, or steamed and sautéed. Baby corn is also well-suited for pickling.
To store, keep refrigerated. Use or freeze immediately after purchase for optimum taste and quality. Baby corn is high in folate, vitamin B and a good source of several other nutrients too. Yellow corn contains carotenoids, which are substances that may help prevent coronary artery disease, certain cancers, and cataracts. In particular, yellow corn is abundant in two carotenoids, zeaxanthin and lutein, which keep eyes healthy.
The more yellow the corn, the more carotenoids it contains, since these compounds provide plants with color. Baby corn, being pale, would carry lesser amounts of these carotenoids than mature corn. They are also rich in several other nutrients such as potassium, vitamin B6, riboflavin, vitamin C and fiber. They are low in fat, saturated fat-free, very low in sodium, cholesterol free. The nutritional values per 90 g or 1 ear medium size of raw corn (sweet, yellow) are: Protein: 2.9g Carbohydrate: 17g Total Fat: 1g Fiber: 2.4g