Sweetcorn (Zea mays)

Sweetcorn (Zea mays)
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Sweet corn (Zea mays var. rugosa[1]), also called sweetcorn, sugar corn, or simply corn, is a variety of maize with a high sugar content. 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 fully mature, sweet corn is picked when immature and eaten as a vegetable, rather than a grain. Since the process of maturation involves converting sugar into starch, sweet corn stores poorly and must be eaten, canned, or frozen before the kernels become tough and starchy.

Sweet corn occurs as a spontaneous mutation in field corn and was grown by several Native American tribes. The Iroquois gave the first recorded sweet corn (called “Papoon”) to European settlers in 1779.[2] It soon became a popular vegetable in southern and central regions of the United States.

Commercial production in the 20th century saw the rise of the se (sugary enhanced) mutants, which are more suitable for local fresh sales, and in the 1950s the sh2 (shrunken-2) gene was isolated that minimized production of the enzyme that converts sugar to starch.[3] There are currently hundreds of varieties, with more constantly being developed.

The fruit of the sweet corn plant is the corn kernel, a type of fruit called a caryopsis. The ear is a collection of kernels on the cobb. The ear is covered by tightly wrapped leaves called the husk. Silk is the name for the styles of the pistillate flowers, which emerge from the husk. The husk and silk are removed by hand, before boiling but not before roasting, in a process called husking or shucking.