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What is Blue Corn?

Blue corn, a unique variety of maize, boasts a vibrant hue and a sweeter, nuttier flavor than its yellow counterpart. Rich in antioxidants, it's a nutritious choice that adds a colorful twist to traditional dishes. Intrigued by its potential in your kitchen? Discover how blue corn can transform your culinary creations and why it's more than just a pretty kernel.
A Kaminsky
A Kaminsky

Corn, indigenous to the Americas, is one of its oldest vegetables. Blue corn is one of the oldest varieties. The Pueblo tribe in the Southwestern United States was using it at least as far back as 1540, when Spanish explorers discovered the region. But this type of corn certainly goes back to the pre-Colombian era.

Blue corn is open-pollinated, so its growth is not as easily regulated as is that of commercial hybrid yellow or white field corn. It is a floury corn, and has about 30 percent more protein than the average hybrid corn. It is still widely used in the Southwest and Mexico, where it is a staple food. It can be used to make tortillas, chaquegue, a type of gruel, and nixtamal, which is a type of hominy. Blue corn was also reputed to have healing properties when offered as a beverage.

Atole is a grain based, hot drink from Mexico.
Atole is a grain based, hot drink from Mexico.

Nixtamal is made of corn kernels that have had their hulls removed in a lime water. The result may be cooked into hominy or ground into masa flour, suitable for tamale dough and many other uses in that cuisine. Atole de maiz is a beverage made of ground corn with add-ins like chocolate or chiles.

Blue corn, with its higher protein value, has also become a trendy ingredient in Mexican restaurants. It has, in fact, expanded into the mainstream commercial market, in products like corn chips, muffins, pancakes and even breakfast cereals! Its strong, nutty flavor is a favorite in corn muffins.

If blue corn products are not locally available, they are everywhere online. A quick search will turn up numerous sites offering blue corn, cornflour, pancake mix and muffin mix. Chaqugue instructions are available as well, for the adventurous eaters.

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Discussion Comments


Not much point in arguing about grain vs veggie. It isn't meat, so that's close enough. Tomato is a fruit (a type of berry), and off we go. Some people simply divide the earth into animal, vegetable and mineral. That makes a spider --what? a vegetable?

Tortillas are traditionally corn, yellow or blue. Flour tortillas have a much longer shelf life and are less likely to break when used for "wrappers" or whatever the new name for burrito is, so they have become popular with modern folks, but are hardly traditional. I know of no evidence that Hopi or Navajo made flour tortillas 100 years ago.


Corn is a grass.


Fruit? Vegetable? Grain? To me, the important question isn't so much what it "counts as" botanically, so much as how it should be thought of in your diet.

And that's mostly as a grain, although blue corn is probably somewhat more nutritious than most grains. Whole corn is high in fiber and not super high in micronutrients. But it's a whole grain. You are much better off enjoying an ear of corn. say, than a piece of white bread.

But if you are making corn bread or corn muffins and using part cornmeal, part flour, you're not going to be doing yourself any favors if you use white flour. You can find good recipes for whole wheat cornbread -- cornmeal with whole wheat flour. My family likes it better, actually; you use liquid sweetener (we like maple syrup for ours) and that makes the bread stick together better than traditional cornbread.


Where in the US, is blue corn grown commercially?


It's a vegetable anyway.


Why would they call it a vegetable? It is a grain, however if you don't know it's a grain you should at least assume that it is a fruit.


Corn is a grain, not a vegetable.


Blue corn is one of the few blue foods. Blueberries tend to be more purple than blue, but anyway, if you think about it, there are very few blue foods. Almost any other color of food is well represented in a supermarket.


to #1

Blue tortillas are just made with blue corn. White tortillas tend to be made with wheat flour. The tortillas that are more yellow are usually made out of yellow corn.


What is the difference between blue and white tortillas?

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    • Atole is a grain based, hot drink from Mexico.
      By: Marcos Bolaños
      Atole is a grain based, hot drink from Mexico.