Posts Tagged With: corn

Canned Corn: Which Brand is Best?

Tara and I were shopping for our weekly groceries this afternoon and were in the canned vegetables section. She needed canned corn for a goulash recipe she was making. “Normally I buy Green Giant,” she said. “But when I’m just mixing a bunch of ingredients together, the cheap stuff will do.” At that point she plucked a can of Santiam off the shelf and started to walk away.

“Wait!” I said. “Is there really a difference between brands of canned corn?”

“I have no idea,” she replied.

“We should find out,” I said. And just like that, a new food challenge was born!

We can thank Napoleon Bonaparte for canning. French troops were suffering badly from malnutrition during their war with Russia in the 18th century, and Napoleon offered a reward of 12,000 francs to anybody who could develop a method of preserving food to keep the troops fed. Nicolas Appert, a candy maker from Paris, won the prize in 1809. Keenly aware that storing wine in sealed bottles helped preserve it, he applied the same principle to food, filling wide-mouthed glass bottles with food, corking them, and boiling them. The tin can followed shortly after, introduced by Englishman Peter Durand. And the rest is history.

To keep the playing field even, I chose the same type of corn: sweet, whole kernel yellow corn. There were two “economy” brands, Santiam and the WinCo store brand, and two “premium” brands: Green Giant and Del Monte. We decided to sample them straight out of the can – uncooked and not doctored up with butter, salt, or any other flavoring that might inadvertently sway our opinions. It was a double-blind study in which I labeled the bottom of each bowl with a number from 1-4, each one matching with a corresponding can, and mixed them up so that I had no idea which bowl corresponded to which can. Tara and I enlisted the aid of my daughter, as well, for a third opinion. unnamed

I went first, and it became immediately apparent that there were differences in flavor between each brand. They looked identical, but taste-wise, that was another story. After sampling all four, I chose my favorite. Then my daughter went, followed by Tara.

Surprisingly, the results were unanimous. We all chose the same brand as our favorite.

The winner? Del Monte. 

Del Monte’s kernels were plump and sweet, and had a pleasing consistency that was nearly creamy in texture. They were slightly salty, slightly buttery. Just a good, crisp fresh-tasting corn.

Green Giant came in second. Again, the corn was high quality, but the flavor was just a little lacking.

We were split between the bottom two as to which was worse, but they both finished 3 and 4 in the rankings. I found the WinCo brand to have a strange “burned” flavor, while Tara described it as tasting metallic. The Santiam brand didn’t have much flavor at all, and the kernels were a little smaller – and stringier.

I have to admit, the results of this taste test surprised me. I had always assumed all canned vegetables were the same, and that if you bought a more expensive brand you were essentially paying for the name. It turns out I was wrong, that there are differences in quality. The lesson? You get what you pay for! From now on, we’ll be buying Del Monte when we purchase canned corn.

I’m curious to see how other canned veggies stack up. Look for a sequel coming soon.

In the meantime, here are 15 great recipes using canned corn.

When it comes to canned corn, you get what you pay for.

When it comes to canned corn, you get what you pay for.

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Categories: Vegetables | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

303/365: National Candy Corn Day

Today’s food holiday celebrates a confection synonymous with Halloween, and one of my favorite candies. October 30 is National Candy Corn Day!

The funny thing is, I wasn’t always a fan of candy corn. I never cared for it while growing up. In fact, it wasn’t until a few years ago that I discovered how delicious this candy actually is! I’ve been hooked ever since. I even blogged about it last year, so if you’re interested in reading more about my personal obsession with candy corn, follow the link.

Candy corn was invented by George Renninger of the Wunderle Candy Company of Philadelphia in the 1880s. The traditional colors of candy corn – a wide yellow end, an orange center, and a white tip – are meant to resemble kernels of corn, though they’re about triple the size of a real kernel. Candy corn was originally made by hand, and while the process remains the same, most of it is automated today. The recipe is unchanged, as well; it’s mostly sugar, corn syrup, carnauba wax, and artificial coloring. Fondant and marshmallows are added for texture. While primarily associated with Halloween, different versions of candy corn are now made to coincide with other holidays. “Reindeer corn” for Christmas has a red end and green center, “Cupid corn” for Valentine’s Day has a red end and pink center, and “Bunny corn” for Easter is a two-colored version with a white tip and a variety of pastel-colored bases. New variations this year included s’mores and pumpkin spice flavors.

I suppose we could have gone upscale and celebrated with a candy corn cocktail (all the rage lately) or some other concoction, but in this case, simple is best. We enjoyed a handful of candy corn straight up!

National Candy Corn Day

Categories: Candy | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments

197/365: National Corn Fritters Day

I’d better cob-ble together some facts in order to educate you on today’s food holiday. July 16 is National Corn Fritters Day!

Corn fritters originated in the Deep South, and are related to hush puppies. No surprise there; isn’t everybody related to everybody else down South? (This is the part where I could insert a gratuitous joke about cousins getting hitched and follow that up with a real belly-slapper over inbreeding, but I’ll take the high road instead. Wouldn’t want to offend any Southerners, after all). Corn fritters are closely associated with cowboy cuisine, but in fact, might have originated with the Native American culture. All we know for sure is, they are made with corn kernels, egg, flour, milk, and butter, and may be either fried or baked. They are similar in appearance to Johnnycakes, a flatbread made of cornmeal.

Seeing as how we live about as far from the South as you can possibly get while still calling the United States home, corn fritters aren’t exactly commonplace up here. Meaning, we had to make our own. No big deal, though – they’re very easy. We used the following recipe from Bisquick, with a slight modification (the addition of green chilies):

1 egg
1/4 c. milk
1 c. Bisquick
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
1 4 oz. can diced green chilies
Black pepper

Blend together egg, milk, and Bisquick. Stir in corn. Add pepper to taste. In a wok or frying pan, heat 2 inches vegetable oil. Using 2 teaspoons, gently drop a rounded teaspoon of fritter batter into hot oil. Fry 6-8 fritters at a time, turning until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.

They were simple to make, and delicious! We weren’t sure what type of dipping sauce to use, so we opted for ranch. I think a spicy chipotle mayo would have been even better.

National Corn Fritter Day

Categories: Bread, Too Weird to Categorize | Tags: , , , , , | 8 Comments

29/365: National Corn Chip Day

It’s National Corn Chip Day, so tear open a bag of Fritos and get wild! That’s what we did. Minus the “get wild” part.

Many people confuse corn chips with tortilla chips, but they are in reality quite different. Both are made from corn, but tortilla chips go through a process called nixtamalization (the corn is soaked and cooked in an alkaline solution before being hulled, resulting in a milder flavor and less crunch). Think of them as being neutered, if you will. (Or don’t. You may lose your appetite). Tortilla chips are bigger and thinner, while corn chips are thick and crunchy, and taste strongly of corn. Gee, no kidding. fritos-original

In 1932, Charles Elmer Doolin owned a convenience store, but there was nothing convenient about it: the tortillas he kept stacked on the shelves kept spoiling. It was the height of the Depression, and Doolin could ill afford to let his food go to waste. He met a guy from San Antonio who was selling fried corn chips, and offered him $100 for the recipe; his mother, Daisy, pawned her wedding ring to come up with the cash. C.E. (as he was called) got to work, experimenting with different varieties of corn until he found the perfect strand – a type of corn he grew himself. Daisy loved to whip up new recipes for the corn chips, and one day tossed a handful into a pot of chili, creating the Fritos Chili Pie, which is pretty much the National Dish of Rednecks everywhere. Doolin went on to form The Frito Company and other inventions followed, including Cheetos in 1948. In 1961, he merged with H.W. Lay & Company, and Frito-Lay has been a powerhouse in the snacking industry ever since.

I love Fritos and bean dip, but somebody isn’t a fan of beans around here. Cheese dip is good, but too obvious. And we don’t skin our own squirrels for breakfast, so Chili Pie was out. I happen to have an excellent recipe for a Fritos Corn Salad that I got from somebody I used to work with. She would make this for office potlucks, and it was always a big hit – the one item that disappeared faster than anything else (even cocktail wienies!) and people were always wanting the recipe for. Tara was skeptical – a lot of people are, I guess given what seems like an odd combination of ingredients – but it’s really, really good. Trust me. I made it for a family function a couple of years ago, and my aunt demanded the recipe. Now she makes it any time she’s got a potluck, and people hit her up for the recipe. It’s the circle of life, I tell you.

Frito Corn Salad
2 cans of corn (well drained)
1/2 cup diced red onion
1 cup diced green pepper
1 cup mayonnaise
1 bag Chili Cheese Fritos

Simply mix all the ingredients in a large bowl, adding the Fritos right before serving. The Chili Cheese work best, but you could substitute regular if you’re afraid of a little kick (it’s pretty mild, actually).

I made it tonight to go along with hot dogs, and of course it was a big hit. Even Tara liked it!
Frito Corn Salad
Categories: Snacks | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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