Depending upon where you travel, you may live a lifetine and never see an ear of blue corn, for it is grown in a limited part of North America’s southwest. There, it is processed and turned into blue cornmeal products available in some supermarkets and most health stores. Expect to find blue cornmeal and mixes for muffins, corn bread, tortillas, polenta, cold cereal flakes, cooked hot cereals, pancake and waffle mixes, chips, popped corn and even for pizza dough.
Why blue? Mostly for taste! Blue corn is known to be coarser and sweeter, nuttier and yet more earthy flavored, than white or yellow corn.
Blue corn is catching on. One of the leading processors, Arrowhead Mills processes about a million pounds of blue corn a year. In 1985, a smaller processor registered sales of $60,000 and in 2012 his sales were up to $1 million.
The explorer, Coronado, came across blue corn in 1540 in the southwest. It had been a staple food of the Navajo, Zuni, Pueblo and Hopi tribes from their beginnings and holds considerable religious importance for them during ceremonies. When they cook with it, they make blue corn into atole, a hot cereal, boiled breads, dumplings and a thin, rolled bread they call “paper bread.”
Initially, blue corn had to be tended by hand from planting to harvesting because of its delicate stalk structure. This made it expensive and quite scarce. More efficient growing techniques have developed making blue corn more plentiful.
The blue variety contains 20% more protein than white or yellow cornmeal and a lower glycemic index. It is also richer in iron, lysine, anthocyanin and zinc. Another plus is it’s wheat and gluten-free.
Store blue cornmeal products in tightly-sealed containers in a dry, cool place.
Blue Corn products:
Most supermarkets and all health stores stock ready-to-eat blue corn products.
Sources for web ordering blue cornmeal:
Find recipes using blue corn meal.