No, it’s not pomegranate: Meet red corn, a colourful cousin of the popular grain

Red corn cobs
Red corn cobs. Photo: iStock/chengyuzheng

Before you bite into these vibrant red, jewel-like kernels found at a farmer's store, make sure you have picked the right kind. Although the striking colour might make them look like pomegranate seeds, these kernels are actually from red corn, a unique and nutritious variety of maize. Unlike the juicy, sweet-tart seeds of a pomegranate, red corn kernels are firm and starchy, offering a nutty flavour and a variety of culinary uses.

In this guide, we’ll explore what makes red corn special, how to differentiate it from other red-hued foods, and why it's a colourful addition to your kitchen.

Red corn is a unique variety of corn known for its distinctive red kernels. It's an heirloom grain that has been cultivated for centuries, primarily by indigenous peoples in the Americas. Red corn comes in several varieties, including red dent corn and red flint corn. The kernels can range from bright red to deep maroon, and the colour is due to anthocyanins, which are natural pigments also found in other red and purple fruits and vegetables.

Purple corn
Purple corn. Photo: iStock/Teen00000

Culinary uses
Red corn can be used similarly to other types of corn. It's often ground into cornmeal for tortillas, cornbread, and other dishes. The kernels can also be roasted or boiled and used in salads, salsas, and side dishes. Red corn has a slightly nuttier and earthier flavour compared to yellow corn.

Nutritional benefits
Red corn is rich in antioxidants, particularly anthocyanins, which have anti-inflammatory and potential health-promoting properties. It contains vitamins and minerals such as vitamin B, iron, and magnesium.

Farming red corn
Red corn thrives in warm climates with plenty of sunshine. The Indian climate, particularly in regions such as Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Maharashtra, is suitable for corn cultivation.

Red corn can be grown in a variety of climates, similar to other corn varieties. It often requires the same care and cultivation practices as yellow or white corn, though it might be more resistant to certain pests and diseases due to its genetic diversity.

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