There are two types of corn (maize) common in our diet, one is field corn from which we get corn flour used for example to make corn flakes and tortillas, the other is sweet corn. The sweet corn has a much higher sugar content, the result of it being able to turn the starch to sugar. It takes between 80 to 110 days to grow and varieties vary in height, sweetness and importantly the duration of the sweet flavor after ripening.
The sweet corn plant grows to between 80-200cm tall and consists of a long stem at the top of which grows the male part of the flower called the tassel that produces the pollen. Lower down the plant the female part of the flower emerges from the leaf nodes to produce the cob and silk to which are attached the sweet corn kernels when they mature. The cob and kernels are protected by an outer leaf sheaf called the husk, the final result being known as ´corn on the cob`.
Sweet corn varieties vary in sweetness from ´sugary` through to ´super sweet`. The sweetest varieties can contain up to ten times more sugars and remain sweet for a longer period post ripening. In a good summer it is just about possible to grow most of the varieties in Finland, however the longer growing period required by the sweetest varieties mean they will only succeed in the warmest places.
Good quality sweet corn means it has been harvested at an optimal stage of ripeness and has a long cob which is covered with even rows of full, sweet and brightly colored kernels. Sweetness soon begins to fade to a starchiness and can last from two to ten days depending on the variety, so it’s best to eat sweet corn as fresh as possible. Nutritionally sweet corn provides an important range of minerals and vitamins as well as fiber and of course plenty of energy.