10 Facts You (Probably) Never Knew About Corn

Corn. We all eat it, we all love it. But how much do you really know about this unpretentious vegetable — besides it being delicious, of course? Turns out, there are quite a few facts you, like myself, haven’t yet been told about corn. We’re here now to open your mind, debunk a few corn myths, and bring you ten facts you probably never knew about corn.

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1. WE USED TO HAVE 307 TYPES OF CORN

According to a study on food variety by National Geographic, we used to have roughly 307 different kinds of corn about a century ago. Though we currently only grow about 12 different types of corn, it’s still good to know the difference between these varieties.

For example, that corn on the cob you’ll be eating at your neighbors’ summer cookout is sweet corn (also known as dent corn), popcorn and animal feed is made from blue or red corn — which has a harder exterior than sweet corn — and those delicious corn tortillas, corn bread, and any other corn-flour baked goods (including a lot of junk food) come from field corn.

2. HUMANS HAVE BEEN GROWING CORN FOR 10,000 YEARS

Archeologists have found evidence that corn was produced as early as 9,000 – 8,000 BC in Mesoamerica, making corn not only one of the oldest domesticated crops, but an important cornerstone of North American agriculture. From the Mayan and Olmec civilizations to modern day Canada, corn remains one of the most important and widely produced and consumed crops in North America.

3. SWEET CORN EXISTS BECAUSE OF A GENETIC MUTATION

Even though corn has been a domesticated plant for thousands of years, the sweet corn we love and associate with summer BBQs first came about from a genetic mutation from one strain of corn back int The mid-1700s. Before this, corn was starchier and less sweet — and still remains so in other parts of the world.

4. CANADA'S CORN BELT PRODUCES A TON OF OXYGEN

According to the Native Agri Update, “The one million or so hectares of corn grown in Ontario produce enough oxygen for the annual respiratory needs of Ontario's ten million residents in about eleven summer days.

5. YOU CAN STORE CORN FOR UP TO 8 MONTHS

Most fresh food doesn’t come with an expiration date, and generally speaking, you can only keep a fresh ear of corn fresh for about 5 – 7 days in the fridge. However, if you really want to save that prime, summertime harvest for a later date, you can store fresh corn (read: not canned corn, but the kind that has to be shucked, cleaned, and grabbed from your local farmers market or produce aisle!) for up to 8 months.

Wikipedia says you can do so by boiling or blanching corn, placing them in a freezer safe container, then storing them in your freezer until you’re ready to use it.

6. IT'S A GREAT SOURCE OF FIBRE AND VITAMIN C

Corn gets a bad rap for being unhealthy — and sure, some corn products are used to make unhealthy food (chips, for example). However, corn in it’s purest, freshest, and in my opinion, most delicious form is incredibly healthy.

Why exactly? Eating Well says it has a high amount of fiber, about 4 grams in every large ear of corn, which can help prevent heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer. A fiber rich diet also helps us maintain healthy digestive systems and, according to some research, may help with weight loss.

Not to mention, it’s full of that feel good substance, Vitamin C, which help combat immune system deficiencies (i.e. the common cold), eye disease, and a whole host of other potentially harmful health issues.

7. YOU SHOULD NEVER ADD SALT TO CORN AS IT'S COOKING

Unlike pasta, you should never add salt to boiling water while cooking corn. Doing so hardens the outside of the kernels and makes them tough to eat. Instead, add a little bit of milk and sugar to the water to bring out the sweetness of your boiled corn.

8. YOU CAN EAT CORN RAW!

Yup, that’s right, no need to boil, blanch, or grill corn — you can eat it 100% uncooked. Whether it’s tossed up with herbs and oil in a summer salad, or straight from the cob, corn is safe to eat raw and actually retains more of its nutritional value. And, as long as you’ve your picked corn from the right farmer, it’s a delicious and refreshing treat.

9. CORN IS THE MAIN INGREDIENT IN CANADIAN WHISKEY

Whiskey, that ever popular Canadian spirit, can be made from barley, wheat, rye, and — yes, corn! In fact, Canadian Whiskey says, corn is the main ingredient in Canadian whiskey. Unlike wheat (which was originally used to make Canadian whiskey), corn produces more alcohol than wheat does.

10. STORING POPCORN IN THE FRIDGE MAKES IT UN-POP-ABLE

Okay, so I hope none of you are doing this already, but just in case you were considering moving all your pantry items into the fridge — DON’T! Storing popcorn in the fridge dries out moisture from the kernels. Without this moisture, it will be unable to pop and will fall flat and sad in your microwave. So, just saying, don’t do this.

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So, if you’ve ever thought corn was unhealthy for you or wondered what was in your glass of Canadian whiskey — now you know. Corn is truly a fascinating and versatile crop, so don’t let your exploration of corn knowledge stop here. Read some more of our articles as well!

Alaeddine Jabri