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Friday, February 27, 2009

Simple Survival Foods - Corn

There are various types of corn and being familiar with these types will allow you make substitutions when necessary. It will also give you the option for a little variety in your diet. Whether you are using it as a “form of vegetable” or flour, corn has a great many uses in preparing a variety of meals.

1.) Sweet Corn

The sweet corn you usually find in the produce section of your grocery store or in cans is most often served as a vegetable. It is also referred to as “corn on the cob”. it is still a grain and consists of three fairly common types of sweet corn. These are white, yellow and a hybrid combination of the white and the yellow types. Sweet corn should be consumed rather quickly after harvesting due to its high sugar content which quickly converts into starch.

2.) Flint Corn

Flint corn is also known as red or blue corn. It has a very hard exterior and is most often used as an animal feed. It is also used in many processed food items made for human consumption, including such things as chips, drinks, sweeteners, and cereals. The more colorful varieties are also used as decorative corn. This is the type that is most often ground into corn meal but can be difficult to grind into a fine flour.

3.) Popcorn or “Popping Corn”

Popcorn is a special type of corn. It has an extremely high moisture content. When heated it causes the moisture content to heat up. Since the moisture can’t escape, it causes the corn to “pop”. Popcorn is a special type of flint corn. Popcorn can even be ground into cornmeal. It has a long shelf life if stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry area.

4.) Field Corn (also known as Dent Corn)

Field corn or dent corn is also known as hominy and is found in the canned goods section of most grocery stores when used as a vegetable. It is also found in the form of “grits” as a dry product that is used to make a hot breakfast cereal. This is the type of corn that is used in masa harina. Masa merely means dough when translated. This is the type of corn used in traditional Mexican cooking to make tortillas and other products. This corn is low in sugar and high in starch.

5.) Flour Corn

This type of corn is grown specifically for making corn flour. It is softer and contains more starch than the other varieties of corn. Corn flour is generally made with white corn and is used in baked goods. It should not be confused with masa harina. Masa harina is dent or field corn that is boiled and soaked in water with slaked lime. This process lends a superior taste and texture to soft corn tortillas, crispy tortilla chips and tamales.

Corn meal, corn flour and masa harina are different products made with different types of corn.

Cornmeal is simply dried corn that is ground into a coarse meal. Grits are basically the same as cornmeal. Traditionally grits are a much more coarsely ground cornmeal but can be used interchangeably. If using it in baked goods you will need to add flour in addition to the corn meal. Corn flour is a very finely ground corn. It can sometimes be used just as you would wheat flour. You can substitute corn flour for masa harina but you will get less flavor and lack the texture of masa harina. Masa harina and corn flour can also be used to thicken sauces and soups. Masa harina can also be used to make pinole.

Staying above the water line!



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