Purple Corn or Blue Corn gets its name from the color of the kernels which may range from white-purple-blue to a dark, almost black purple color. This is one of the corn varieties that is guaranteed to be non-GMO. This is a variety of the flint maize which in turn, got its name from the tough outer layer (tough as flint they say) that protects the soft endosperm within. Purple corn dates back to about 5000 years ago with some samples showing that they were cultivated and consumed by the Incans. As for the taste, purple corn has a taste closer to sweet corn than the regular corn varieties and it has a tender and crisp texture.
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Order: Poales
- Family: Poaceae
- Genus: Zea
- Species: Z. mays
- Binomial name: Zea mays
Purple Corn Trivia
- Purple corn has been used by many ancient civilizations to dye their fabrics purple.
- The component that gives purple corn its distinctive purple color is the same component that gives blueberries their color.
- Purple corn has more anthocyanins (the pigment that gives it that purple color) than blueberries, making it even richer in antioxidants than blueberries and other blue/purple-colored fruit.
- In Peru, you can find a sweet purple drink called chicha morada from purple corn.
Purple Corn Buying Guide
Purple corn is not easy but it is not impossible as well. As purple corn has been gaining popularity as more and more people are looking for non-GMO food products, and what better way to ensure that your food is non-GMO than choosing an heirloom crop. To select the best purple corn, it’s just like selecting regular corn.
- For purple corn, the husk should still be a bit moist and “alive.” Avoid husks that feel too dried out or papery as this may indicate that the corn is a little bit old.
- Also check the husk for holes. Holes are a good indication that the corn has been attacked by insects, and you don’t want insects in your corn. (Who does?)
- Look at the corn hairs or tassels. The tassels should also look “alive” and not dead. If the packaging has holes, give the tassels a good sniff, it should smell sweet with no sour smells whatsoever.
- If the purple corn has their husks removed, you can check the kernels themselves to determine their freshness. The kernels should look plump and should have any spaces in between them. Spaces mean that the purple corn has started to dry up.
- Give the purple corn a good squeeze. They should feel plump and firm and NOT SOFT. Soft kernels mean that they’re rotten underneath, and nobody wants to bite into rotten corn. If you do give store corn a squeeze, buy them if there’s nothing wrong with them, just don’t squeeze them for the fun of it.
Purple corn is also sold in its dry form and there’s nothing much to be said about buying dry purple corn except to make sure that the corn is fully dried out. Give the dried corn kernels a good press and they should feel as hard as a rock.
Purple Corn Production & Farming in Texas
Purple corn isn’t grown in commercial quantities in Texas, but it is popular in the Southern part of the state where it is used in many Tex-Mex dishes. Some small farms and homesteads also grow purple corn not only as a differentiator to the generic types of corn but as a guarantee that their corn is truly non-GMO.
Purple corn isn’t the easiest to grow in Texas as it is originally a highland crop, but in the cooler parts of the states, you can see purple corn for sale in roadside stalls, small farms, and farmers’ markets when they are in season.
Pesticides, Additives, and Chemicals:
Since purple corn is an heirloom grain, care is taken not to use any artificial fertilizers and pesticides on them as their seed is kept for the next season. This is also one of the reasons why heirloom grains, once established in an area, will keep growing season after season as the plant has naturally adapted to the area.
Fresh purple corn is packed the exact same way regular fresh corn is packed. They can be wrapped in bundles with cling film, peeled and placed on trays and covered with cling film, or stacked on a table, and customers can choose the ones they want.
Enjoying Purple Corn
Purple corn can be enjoyed much like regular corn. It can be boiled, grilled, and prepared the same as you would regular sweet corn. Try adding purple corn to salads that use sweet corn, its purple color can give any dish an attractive splash of color.
To store fresh corn, wrap them tightly in plastic wrap and store them in the fridge for three to five days. Purple corn can also be frozen to extend its shelf life. Simply shuck the corn and blanch it in boiling water for two and a half minutes and shock them in ice-cold water to stop the cooking. Remove the kernels from the cob and transfer them to a freezer-safe plastic bag. Frozen purple corn can last for up to a year.
How to Grill Purple Corn on a cob:
The next time you have a barbecue, try getting some purple corn instead of regular sweet corn. Not only will you elicit some surprised gasps from your guests but you’re going to be serving them healthier food as well.
Purple Corn, enough for everybody
Melted Butter, For serving
A mixture of salt, pepper, paprika
Shuck corn and clean completely.
Step 2: (Optional)
Poke a stick on one end of the corn so you have a “handle” on it. Think of hotdogs on sticks.
Turning frequently, grill for 10 minutes or until fully cooked.
Serve and slather with melted butter. Place a bowl of the salt mixture on the table so each person can season their grilled corn to their liking.
- Vitamins and minerals
- Purple corn contains extremely high amounts of anthocyanins, which fight free-radical formation and helps the body heal the negative effects of oxidation.
- The purple pigments in the corn may help lower blood pressure for those with hypertension.
- Purple corn has vitamins and minerals that help lower the risk of type 2 diabetes and helps slow kidney damage caused by diabetes.
When Are Purple Corn in Season in Texas?
To find out when Purple Corn are in season in Texas, please check the seasonal chart below. Why is this important? We are rarely encouraged to think about the physical lengths our food travels before arriving on the market shelves. And all of this travel comes with a hefty environmental cost that is concealed from the consumer’s eye. One of the most salient benefits to eating seasonally is that you are effectively reducing your carbon footprint and supporting a more geographically sustainable food economy. Check other fruit and veg that’s in season in Texas now.