What Is Baby Corn?

I first encountered baby corn at some sort of homestyle buffet that my family frequented when I was a child. I was intrigued by this strange, small vegetable—most likely putting one on my plate so I could use it as an accessory for a stuffed animal I had brought with me. These doll-sized corn-on-the-cobs are cute, to be sure. But then, I eventually tasted one, and the magic was gone. I must admit I am not a fan of the texture of this weird corn monstrosity. And I know even less about what they actually are—or, at least, I did until I did the research for this article. What is baby corn? Is it real corn? Where does baby corn come from—is it the nightmare realm? Let’s explore. 

What is baby corn?

It turns out that the phrase “baby corn” is not a misnomer. Baby corn is, in fact, a form of corn that has been harvested early, when it’s still just a wittle baby. When the corn plant matures further, the cob is too hard for humans to eat, but in its infancy the cobs are small enough to snack on. Baby corn can be enjoyed raw, pickled, or cooked. 

Is baby corn real corn?

Despite its diminutive size and potentially off-putting texture, baby corn is really, truly corn. Admittedly, a lot of the commercially grown baby corn we see is from a corn variety specifically grown for this purpose, but you can also get baby corn from the same plants that produce big boy corn on the cob. In fact, the exact same plant can produce a top ear that can mature to become a regular sized corn, and a bottom ear that can be used as a baby corn. 

How is baby corn made?

Baby corn is hand-picked right after the corn silks are visible on the ear. You can wait a little bit longer than this, but if you wait too long, the corn will have matured to the point that it is no longer baby corn. 

How does baby corn grow?

Baby corn grows in exactly the same way that regular corn grows because it is, in fact, regular corn. Typically, seed varieties are planted that are specifically made to produce baby corn. The advantage to this method is that there are more likely to be many baby corns produced per plant. With the “second harvest” method, you will get a full size ear of corn, and then a baby version beneath it.  

What to do with baby corn? 

If you’re somehow less averse to baby corn than I am, there are in fact a number of ways to prepare it. It’s a staple of stir fry dishes, so you can always throw it in there alongside some snap peas and carrots. You can cook it in the airfryer, you can saute it up with some butter and garlic, you can roast it, you can throw it in soup! And you can eat it whole, cob and all.

About the Author

Matt Crowley

Matt Crowley is a comedy writer living in Los Angeles. He likes maple-flavored snacks, loves every kind of cheese, and is slowly learning to accept mushrooms.

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