When you hear the word “corn,” your first thought probably isn’t “eating.” But it’s time to stop hiding this amazing vegetable and reap all of its benefits. Corn is a superfood that is packed with vitamins and minerals such as iron, calcium, vitamin B6 and folate.
It also has an impressive enzyme profile — especially for those who avoid eating raw vegetables because of the risk of getting a bacteria called E. coli from them. Raw corn on the cob can be eaten if it has been treated properly to kill potential pathogens or have only been nixtamalized (alkaline-treated) which removes most microbial life but not all of it.
If you are wondering whether you can eat corn straight from the can, then read ahead!
What is nixtamalization?
Corn is a seed from which maize is made. It is prepared by nixtamalization, which is a process where corn is soaked in an alkalizing solution to leach the corn of its waxy coating and remove the outer hull, also called the “sheath.”
This process creates “Molasses Corn” or “Molasses Cornmeal” which is a very coarse, yellow meal that is commonly used in cornbread and pastries.
The process of nixtamalization removes some of the niacin (vitamin B3) content in corn, although most people can digest raw corn and obtain all necessary nutrients from it.
However, people with a genetic variation called xanthelasma may have an increased risk of developing skin disorders that are aggravated by raw corn intake. Nixtamalization also kills some bacteria and fungi, but most can be found in raw corn.
Can you eat corn straight from the can?
Yes, of course! You can actually eat fresh corn kernels straight from the cob. You’ll need to remove the husks and silks before eating, and the corn shouldn’t be frozen.
Fresh corn can be stored at room temperature for about a week before it begins to sprout, so make sure you don’t leave it out longer than that. Corn is a great summer vegetable, but don’t forget about it in the winter too!
You can also freeze corn kernels for later use. Just remove the kernels from the cob and thaw them in a bowl before using. Freezing corn kernels can preserve them for up to six months.
If you would like to know how to store corn for longer, check out our article Corn: How to Store Corn for Longer.
Why nixtamalization is required
Nixtamalization is required to make corn an acceptable food source for humans. The corn genome contains genes that make corn toxic to animals such as humans, dogs and pigs.
The toxic nature of corn is a problem for people who would like to grow their own corn but don’t have access to those genes. Nixtamalization is a process that eliminates the toxic nature of corn by first soaking the corn in an alkaline solution to neutralize the corn’s pH and kill most microbes present, then removing the outer hull.
Is nixtamalization really necessary?
Yes. Nixtamalization is a process that has been used for centuries to make corn safe to eat. Although you can eat raw corn from the cob, it is much more nutritious if it has been nixtamalized.
The corn kernel is coated with a waxy substance called “triturim” which makes corn difficult to digest and can cause allergic reactions in some individuals. Nixtamalization removes this coating and makes the corn much easier to digest. By nixtamalized corn, the niacin (vitamin B3) content is also reduced.
However, nixtamalization does not remove the other nutrients in corn, including iron, calcium and antioxidants. Because of this, nixtamalized corn is still a good source of nutrients.
Tips for how to safely eat raw corn from the cob
Wash your hands thoroughly before touching the corn and your hands, as well as the corn cob. Wash your hands again after touching the corn and your hands, as well as the corn cob.
- Keep the corn and your hands away from your mouth until you are ready to eat it.
- Use your corn cob only for the purpose of eating it; do not use it for husking corn or for any other purposes.
- Don’t let your corn cob sit out in the open; put it in a bowl or other container to keep it out of the way until you are ready to eat it.
- Make sure the corn is completely dry before eating it.
- Make sure to check the expiration date on the corn can; if it has expired, don’t eat it.
- Don’t eat any corn that is discolored, blemished or does not look fresh; make sure the corn is dry and does not have any mold on it.
- Don’t eat corn that smells bad, even if it doesn’t look bad; make sure the corn smells fresh before eating it, and make sure to place the corn in a bowl or container so it does not smell up your hands or your environment.
- Raw corn is not suitable for everyone; make sure to consult with your physician before eating raw corn.
How to store uncooked corn for eating later
Freeze uncooked corn kernels in an airtight container for up to six months. Thaw the cooked corn before eating.
Raw corn can also be dried by spreading it out on a baking sheet and allowing it to air dry completely before using it.
Raw corn can also be cooked by boiling, steaming or microwaving. Make sure to follow cooking guidelines on the package; do not overcook the corn or it will lose its nutritional value.
Benefits of raw corn
- Raw corn is a nutritious and healthy food that provides many essential nutrients. Raw corn is rich in vitamins B3, B6 and folic acid, protein and dietary minerals such as manganese, iron, magnesium and phosphorus.
- Raw corn has substantial amounts of inositol, a chemical that is essential for our health. Inositol helps to maintain a healthy metabolism by helping to regulate our insulin levels by shutting off the production of sugar.
Corn is a nutritious and healthy vegetable that can be enjoyed raw or cooked. You can eat fresh corn on the cob or you can prepare corn for later use by cooking the corn kernels or by removing the kernels from the cob and drying them. Raw corn is rich in minerals and vitamins such as iron, manganese and magnesium.
It also has substantial amounts of inositol, a chemical that is essential for our health. Raw corn is a good source of protein and dietary minerals such as manganese, iron and phosphorus. This article explores these and other benefits of raw corn.
Q: How do you prepare corn for eating?
A: You can buy canned or frozen corn kernels to eat as is or you can dry your own. You can also boil the corn until it is tender, which will yield a much tastier result than canned or frozen. To remove the kernels from the cob, simply cut off the top of the cob and scrape out the kernels with a paring knife.
Q: How do you cook corn?
A: You can boil it, steam it, grill it, sauté it in oil or use other methods to cook your corn. To prepare dry corn for later use, first remove any husks and silk from your raw corn. Then place your raw corn in a large bowl and cover with boiling water. Let stand for 30 minutes and then drain off any excess water before storing in a glass jar in the refrigerator.
Q: How do you remove kernels from cobs?
A: Cut off the top of each ear of corn using a sharp paring knife. Then simply scrape all of the kernels out with a paring knife into another bowl using a downward motion so that all of the kernels are removed at one time.