Like the viral Corn Kid once said, “it’s corn! I can’t imagine a more beautiful thing!” Sure, he was referring to regular ol’ yellow sweet corn in that video, but I don’t think he would think that multicolored corn is any less gorgeous. I mean, just look at all those wonderful colors!
Flint corn, also known as Indian or Aztec corn, is a specialty corn type that’s characterized by glassy multicolored kernels that are harder than typical sweetcorn varieties. Despite being grown as an ornamental crop in some parts of the US, flint corn is commonly grown for cooking various native dishes in South America.
Even if they don’t necessarily come in all seven colors of the rainbow, multicolored flint corns are no less colorful.
Plus, they aren’t a feast for the eyes alone. You can grow and use “rainbow” corn in a variety of tasty dishes!
Flint corn (Zea mays indurate) is simply a kind of heirloom corn. It is one of the most popular specialty corn types that is typically grown to be used as ornaments due to its striking colors.
The other kinds of specialty corns are:
- Pod or tunicate
Each one is different primarily based on how they look and the quality—including content and texture—of the corn’s kernels.
Compared to the other 6 types of corn, flint corn kernels are significantly tough and somewhat glassy. They are then individually covered in smooth but hard seed coatings.
When you strike two ears of flint corn against one another, you’ll hear a sound that closely resembles that of stones or rocks. That’s where it gets its name from.
Depending on where you are, flint corn might be called by a different name. Common names for flint corn include Aztec corn, calico corn, Indian corn, and ornamental corn.
You may find them thoroughly air-dried but still very glossy and ready to display!
Ears of flint corn are most commonly sold for ornamental use in America. Their color range is perfect for fall, especially during Thanksgiving. Buy them in flower shops, some grocery stores, and local roadside stands.
They may be similar in size to most other field corns in the market, or they could be as small as only 2–4 inches (5–10 cm).
Unlike most other types of corn, Indian corn cultivars and varieties often come in more than one color—with or without yellow kernels now and then.
Besides shades of yellow or white, flint corn kernels commonly have the following colors:
The different layers in a single kernel or flint corn may have different colors, resulting in a mixture of various gem-like colored corn ears. Think of basic color theory.
For instance, one layer may be white meanwhile the other is red. Blend them together and you’ll get a pinkish flint corn kernel!
Kernels of flint corn cobs may also vary in terms of patterns. Some may have stripes while others could sport spots on them.
Varieties of flint corn with distinct colors include Rainbow. This flint corn is distinguished by its blue, purple, red, orange, yellow, and white kernels.
The spacing between each corn plant can also affect the coloration of corn kernels within each corn cob in the row as well as the column.
Ensuring enough space allocation between each flint corn allows growers to cultivate solid-colored corn cobs.
In contrast, planting each one close together will result in multicolored ears of corn. This happens thanks to cross-pollination!
You could eat flint corn cobs in a similar fashion to the more familiar common corn cobs. But bear in mind that it’s chewier and much less sweet than the typically yellow sweet corn cobs.
Because of this, many people aren’t a big fan of eating it this way—at least, based on people I know. Very few people enjoy the taste and texture of flint corn when prepared this way.
To make better use of your dry and hard flint corn kernels, turn them into corn flour, cornmeal, or corn breading. Heck, why not do all three?
Flint corn is also used to cook:
Actually, a specific subtype of flint corn is very much suited for popping. Popcorn (Zea mays everta) is similar to flint corn but it has a softer and more moist starchy center.
I hope you all have a corntastic day like Tariq, the Corn Kid, after finishing this article!
- “Indian Corn” by Susan Mahror in the University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension
- “Specialty Corns” by George W. Dickerson in the New Mexico State University