Sweet Corn –

Scientific and Common Names
Zea mays convar. saccharata var. rugosa
Sweet Corn
Sugar Corn
Pole Corn
ears of sweet corn


[From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia] Sweet corn occurs as a spontaneous mutation in field corn and was grown by several American First People tribes. Sweet corn is the result of a naturally occurring recessive mutation in the genes which control conversion of sugar to starch inside the endosperm of the corn kernel. Unlike field corn varieties, which are harvested when the kernels are dry and mature (dent stage), sweet corn is picked when immature (milk stage) and prepared and eaten as a vegetable, rather than a grain. Since the process of maturation involves converting sugar to starch, sweet corn stores poorly and must be eaten fresh, canned or frozen, before the kernels become tough and starchy.

Corn maize is a grass domesticated by indigenous peoples in Mesoamerica in prehistoric times. The Aztecs and Mayans cultivated it in numerous varieties throughout central and southern Mexico, to cook or grind in a process called nixtamalization. Later the crop spread through much of the Americas. Between 1250 A.D. and 1700 A.D. nearly the whole continent had gained access to the crop. Any significant or dense populations in the region developed a great trade network based on surplus and varieties of maize crops. After European contact with the Americas in the late 15th and early 16th centuries, explorers and traders carried maize back to Europe and introduced it to other countries through trade. Its ability to grow in distinct climates, and its use were highly valued, thus spreading to the rest of the world. The Iroquios gave the first recorded sweet corn (called Papoon) to European settlers in 1779. It soon became a popular food in southern and central regions of the United States.
The term maize derives from the Spanish form of the indigenous Taino word maiz for the plant. This was the term used in the United Kingdom and Ireland, where it is now usually called “sweet corn,” the most common form of the plant known to people there. Open pollinated varieties of white sweet corn started to become widely available in the United States in the 19th century. Two of the most enduring varieties, still available today, are Country Gentleman (a Shoepeg Corn with small, white kernels in irregular rows) and Stowell’s Evergreen. Sweet corn production in the 20th century was influenced by hybridization which allowed for more uniform maturity, improved quality and disease resistance.

field of stalks of native corn growing

Nutritional Information

Sweetcorn, yellow, raw(seeds only) Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Nutrient Amount % US RDA
Energy 360 kJ (86 kcal) N/A
Carbohydrates 19.02 g N/A
Sugars 3.22 g N/A
Dietary fiber 2.7 g %
Fat 1.18 g N/A
Protein 3.22 g %
Niacin (Vit. B3) 1.700 mg (11%)
Vitamin B6 .0.074 mg (%)
Folate (Vit. B9) 46 μg (12%)
Vitamin C 6.8 mg (11%)
Vitamin E .27 mg (%)
Vitamin K 29.3 mcg (%)
Calcium 43 mg (6%)
Iron 0.20 mg (6%)
Magnesium 11 mg (6%)
Phosphorus 24 mg (5%)
Potassium 260 mg (11%)
Zinc 0.13 mg (4%)

Percentages are relative to US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient database

Nutritional Information

Tryptophan0.023 g
Threonine0.129 g
Isoleucine0.129 g
Leucine0.348 g
Lysine0.137 g
Methionine0.067 g
Cystine0.026 g
Phenylalanine0.150 g
Tyrosine0.123 g
Valine0.185 g
Arginine0.131 g
Histidine0.089 g
Alanine0.295 g
Aspartic acid0.244 g
Glutamic acid0.636 g
Glycine0.127 g
Proline0.292 g
Serine0.153 g
Water75.96 g
Vitamin A equiv.9 μg (1%)
– lutein and zeaxanthin644 μg
Thiamine (Vit. B1)0.200 mg (15%)

Vitamin C
Iron0.52 mg (4%)
Magnesium37 mg (10%)
Potassium270 mg (6%)
One ear of medium size (6-3/4″ to 7-1/2″ long) maize has 90 grams of seeds Percentages are relative to US recommendations for adults. Source: USDA Nutrient database

Cultural Information

Sweet corn is an annual with yellow, white, and bi-colored ears. A long, frost-free growing season is necessary after planting. Sweet corn is wind-pollinated, so it should be planted in blocks, rather than in single rows. Early, mid, and late-season varieties extend the harvest. If you miss the optimal harvest time, corn will go downhill fast as sugars convert to starch. Corn is picky about its soil. Work in aged manure or compost the fall before planting and let over winter in the soil. Starting seeds indoors is not recommended for our region. Plant seeds outdoors two weeks after the last spring frost date, or basically when the soil is warm and you are planting out tomatoes. Make sure soil temperature is above 60 degrees for successful germination. (Up to 65 for super sweet varieties.) In colder zones, the ground can be warmed by a black plastic cover if necessary. Plant seeds through holes. Plant seeds 1 inch deep, 9 to 12 inches apart. Leave about 1-2 feet between rows. For sufficient pollination, plan your plot right. Don’t plant two long rows, rather, plant corn blocks of at least four rows. You may choose to fertilize at planting time, corn is meant to grow rapidly. If you are confident that the soil is adequate and the plants will be fed, this can be skipped. Water in well at planting time. Be careful not to damage the roots when weeding. Soil must be well drained and able to keep consistent moisture. Except in very dry conditions, watering is not necessary until flowering starts. Then, water at a rate of 5 gallons per sq yard. Mulch helps reduce evaporation.  When the plants are 4 to 5 inches tall, thin them to stand 16  inches apart. Harvest time is when tassels turn brown. Preparing for cooking or preserving immediately after picking, as the sugar breakdown begins the moment you harvest the ears. Sweet Corn freezes very well, especially when removed from the cob.


Sweet Corn Cakes
Yield: Makes about 15 corn cakes.
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups uncooked corn, cut from the cob (or 10 oz. frozen corn kernels, thawed)
  • 1/2 cup chopped scallions
  • 1/3 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • sour cream
  • salsa
  1. In a large bowl, mix all ingredients except the last three.
  2. Heat a skillet to medium-high and grease with the oil.
  3. Drop mixture by spoonfuls into the skillet, making individual cakes about 3 inches across.
  4. Cook 2 or 3 minutes on each side, just until golden.
  5. Serve with sour cream and salsa.
Tortilla Soup by Love Farm Organics
  • 4-6 c diced cooked chicken
  • 4-6 c chicken broth
  • 2 c diced tomatoes
  • 2 c diced chilies
  • 2 cloves diced garlic
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 Tbsp cumin
  • 3-4 ears of  sweet corn
  • 3-4 carrots
  • Tortilla chips
  • Monterrey Jack cheese
  1. Set half your broth, tomatoes, chilies, onions, cumin, and garlic in a large saucepan and simmer on medium-low.
  2. Slice the kernels off the ear of corn and add to remaining broth in a small saucepan with sliced carrots. Simmer for 10 minutes. Let cool. Place mixture in blender and puree.
  3. Combine the mixtures in the larger saucepan and simmer for 1 hour.
  4. Before serving in bowls, put a little Monterrey Jack cheese and tortilla chips in the bottom of bowl and then pour soup over and garnish with cheese.