Balanced Living

Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

Baby Corn Mystery

baby corn

In my childhood, I encountered a great mystery. Baby corn. It was so familiar, yet so strange. Its diminutive proportions seemed to fit only the white boxes of the Chinese take-out place. My mother never cooked with it and my grandmother never pulled it from her freezer. I wanted it. I talked about it. I dreamed of eating it. After all, it was corn, my favorite food. Or was it corn? Is ketchup a vegetable? My brief career as an English teacher in China brought me no satisfying answers.

"Do you know about baby corn?" I asked.
"Oh, yes. We know."

Yet no one ever showed me an ear. Regional grasses were a delicacy. Fried watermelon was a luxury. Cicada larvae were presented to me, the guest of honor. But no baby corn.

If, in fact, you've wondered what baby corn is and you've scoured books on corn and nutrition and gardening and vegetables as I have and have found no information, welcome to the club. Maybe I shouldn't even be writing about it. But I grew it. Once. At Dr. Weil's ranch. So let me tell you about it. Let me lift the darkness that shrouds baby corn.

Baby corn is sweet corn harvested when still tiny and immature. The cob at harvest is roughly three inches long, and the tiny kernels and the tender cob are both eaten, not just the kernels. Grandpa John, as we drove through the cornfields of northern Michigan, always said, "knee-high by the fourth of July." That was a mnemonic the farmer used to tell if his corn crop was on schedule to be harvested several weeks later. But it does not apply to baby corn. If the cornstalk is knee-high, about a foot and a half, the baby ears will already be slightly past their prime. From our trial, it appeared that the young and tender ears become unbearably saccharin sweet if they're allowed to get much bigger than a finger.

On the other hand, everyone who tried a bite was pleasantly surprised that it wasn't anything like the flavorless cobs we ate as kids in Chinese take-out. Once, I think I noticed in a grocery store a jar of pickled baby corn. Certainly, no method of preservation could capture the crisp sweetness of fresh baby corn.

Yet it is amazingly elusive. Maize, a.k.a. corn, was introduced to China in the mid-1500s. Though China is one of the world's leading corn producers, I never saw the baby variety - or any other kind, for that matter - while I was there. And outside of my own experiment, I've never seen baby corn growing in this country, either.

So if you want some, you'll have to grow it yourself. First, you'll need to find some seeds. I ordered mine from a Chinese seed company in Ontario, Canada, but it's also available from some domestic seed companies, such as Park Seed. You could, if you'd like, try using sweet corn seeds of any variety and simply harvest early, but you will probably have better success using a variety specially bred to be delectable at the immature stage.

When I gave Dr. Weil the first few ears off the couple of plants we grew, he commented on how sweet they were. The pleasure of growing baby corn is well worth the limited effort it takes to have successful results. If you have kids, they will be especially delighted to eat a few fresh little ears. And if you're as serious - and as impatient - as I am about gardening, these little corns are a quick fix while you wait for your cabbage to mature.

by Jace Mortensen, Guest Commentator News

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Start eating for your health - begin your free trial now.

Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness
Achieve emotional well-being in just eight weeks! Start your 10-day free trial now!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Optimum Health Plan
Your 8-week plan to wellness.
Begin your journey today!

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe Wellness Guide
Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Food Pyramid

Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

Condition Care Guide
Learn about health conditions from acne to vertigo, and Dr. Weil's view of the best treatment options for each.

Healthy Recipes
Discover a treasure trove of healthy, healing foods and creative, delicious ways to prepare them.

Q&A Library
Over 2,000 questions from you and their corresponding answers from Dr. Weil.

Copyright © 2015 Weil Lifestyle
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here