Corn in flower

Corn in flower is a beauty to behold until it becomes blase; which it should not. This is probably the largest source of food on planet Earth.

This is a view we just love; corn on the cob every day for three months is just around the corner. And hopefully succotash too, if the lima beans will ripen in time; they have a very long growing-season.

Corn in flower

This page was last updated by Bernard Preston on 22nd December, 2020.

It feeds a lot of farmyard animals and many humans too; this mealie-meal porridge is divine and marvellously nutritious if you can get 100% whole cornflour.

Oddly I prefer other varieties to sweet corn; those like Border-King that have less sugars.

Midsummer means corn in flower; it is one of the highlights of our gardening-programme.

Corn, or maize as we call it, is in some disrepute as a food high in starch, allegedly fattening and to be avoided, but we love it. Nixtemalisation is a whole new subject I am looking into; it's the way the ancients in the Americas prepared it, reportedly with greater nutritional benefits.

In the context of wholesome food, I never put on weight even after months of enjoying corn on the cob every day. It is the refined carbohydrates like white-bread, pasta and rice that make us fat. Then the sugar, cakes and cookies add their bit of course.

Highly refined maize-meal, a staple in South Africa, is the chief reason why obesity reigns in our land. It is corn's equivalent of cake flour.

Would you feed your children cake for breakfast? Then a porridge made from highly-refined cornmeal makes no sense at all, and if you add a tablespoon of sugar you have set them well on their way to diabetes.

Twelve percent of South Africans are now diabetic, one of the highest in the world. Worse, over half are walking the streets undiagnosed; that means something approaching a quarter of the nation has seriously raised blood-glucose.

But, if you suspect you are insulin resistant, then it is a good idea to test your blood sugar thirty-minutes and one hour after a meal of corn; it is a simple, inexpensive fingerprick if you know someone with a glucometer. The HbA1c is far more reliable but a lot more costly too.

Over ten-percent of the West is now diabetic, so there must be someone around the corner.

Elsewhere in the world it is mostly refined wheat flour that is the cause of so much suffering. We see it everyday at the clinic; painful hips, knees and feet from obesity and folk suffering from polymyalgia. If you are having a love-affair with crackers and crisps, chocolate cake and bagels, then beware.

At the medic's office it means high blood pressure, coronary-artery disease and diabetes.

Refined starches are what keep us quacks in business. Cut out the cakeflour and cornmeal, and avoid sugar, and you will be astonished how much stronger you will feel, and have more energy.

And even there, brown rice is a wonderful food, just as 100 percent wheat-flour is. So we unashamedly enjoy our corn on the cob; and our low GI bread.

Today, the end of the second week in January we enjoyed our first four-cobs; it has been a long time since I planted them in spring, but so worth the wait.

And now two-months later, we are half way through the crop; there is little sign of fall armyworm thanks to the hens. They too get three or four cobs a day, and we enjoy eggs with bright orange yolks.

There is no sign of Stealth today, our age-old fiend, the vervet monkey, though; given a chance he will cause havoc. Often he will take half a dozen cobs.

Corn in flower

Corn in flower boggles the mind; each of those tassels ends in one pip; in the summer garden you can see a shower of pollen raining down on those stamens. It is all about fertilisation.

I have enjoyed watching several different species of birds, most commonly the weavers, feasting on the pollen this summer.

They help with the pollination by spreading it far and wide.

Corn like most vegetables, the exception being the butternut family, lose their flavour very quickly after being reaped.

Old corn is deadly dull, and nutritionally far less protective against disease, but straight from the summer garden to the pot, it is one of the highlights of every lunch in our green home; like bread we never tire of it.

Be assured, 100 percent wholewheat bread and fresh corn on the cob, if you can get them, are not the cause of your obesity. Learn about the meaning of the term glycemic index, and apply it to your meals, and you can delete that dirty four-letter word diet from your vocabulary. It is the refined starches that do the damage.

Interestingly folk living in the five Blue Zones of the world, where vigorous old age is the norm, never go on diet and nor do they step out and exercise; they have so ordered their lives that there is no need.

Drop your cobs into a little boiling water, cover with a lid and turn up the heat and they will be done in about five minutes; when you can smell them, then they are cooked. We keep that liquid that remains after steaming for use in soups and gravies.


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According to Harvard, the glycemic index of sweet corn on the cob is only 48. That is low; it is not fattening. Our white maize will be even less.

Surprisingly adding a little butter lowers the glycemic index even further, and makes it even less fattening. The fat also contributes to the absorption of important phytonutrients.

Once you see corn in flower, it will be only a few weeks until you can start to enjoy this excellent food as often as you like.

It is particularly rich in a phytochemical called zeaxanthin that is needed in very high concentration in the macula of the eye; together with the lutein in dark green leafy vegetables, they will prevent you from getting macular degeneration, the leading cause of adult onset blindness.

Enjoy the fruit of your corn in flower. It is very wholesome; and delicious provided it is picked young and cooked within a few hours. It is our ambition to eat a mealie a day for much of the summer; with zero terror of it adding to our waistlines.

We prefer to cook it within fifteen minutes of reaping the cobs.

One does not need a vegetable garden trellis for corn; the plants are very well anchored in the ground. However we like to grow climbing beans and limas near our maize for the nitrogen they fix in the soil.

Corn and beans are a staple. Growing lima beans means we can enjoy succotash every year. I like to toss in a jalapeno or peppadew to spice it up a bit.

This is our quick succotash recipe.

For more about the details of the nutrition of 100% cornmeal read this page from the authoritative World's Healthiest Foods.

As for little ole me, I'll stick to the magnificent mealie cob.

Quick succotash recipe with corn and lima beans.

Summertime is when we have carbs galore; lucky none of them are glycemic yet we still try not to over-indulge. Too much starch at a meal is never a good thing.

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56 Groenekloof Rd,

Hilton, KZN

South Africa