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Oaxacan Green Dent Corn
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Oaxacan Green Dent corn stalks typically reach 2 meters tall and produce ears that are 17 to 25 centimeters in length. The large kernels have a smooth, shiny exterior with a characteristic dent that develops as the moisture escapes. They range in striking shades of green, from bronze tints to pea-green to emerald-green colors. The hardened kernels are then either left on the cob and used as decorations, or removed and ground into cornmeal for tamales and tortillas. Heirloom varieties, such as Oaxacan Green Dent have maintained their original nutty, rich and creamy flavors which are often lost in conventional varieties, bred for production rather than taste.
Oaxacan Green Dent corn is available year-round in its dried form, or fresh in the late fall and winter months.
Oaxacan Green Dent corn is in ancient heirloom variety of Zea mays that is classified as a grain corn, as opposed to a sweet corn. Grain corn, also referred to as field corn, dry corn or Indian corn, has a higher starch content and lower sugar content, making it ideal for cornmeal, animal feed, corn syrup or biofuel. The Oaxacan Green Dent variety produces kernels of all shades of green that develop a noticeable indentation as they dry out. The dried kernels are ground into a unique green colored flour, which is a key ingredient in cornbread, tortillas and tamales.
Oaxacan Green Dent corn is a good supply of carbohydrates and dietary fiber.
Oaxacan Green Dent corn should be picked when the outer husks have dried and become a dull shade of yellow. The husked ears need to be further dried for a period of 2 to 3 weeks before the kernels become loose and are easily removed from the cob. Once ground, the green cornmeal may be used just like traditional yellow cornmeal, but it offers a unique slightly herbaceous quality.
Oaxacan Green Dent corn is historically grown in the “three sisters” style of cultivation along with beans and squash. These three “sister crops” were among the first foods domesticated by ancient Mesoamerican societies. By interplanting them within the same mound, the corn stalks provided a natural pole for the beans to climb, beans fix nitrogen in the soil, and sprawling squash vines become a natural mulch. Nutritionally, corn provides carbohydrates, the dried beans are rich in protein, and squash provides vitamins and oil rich seeds.
Oaxacan Green Dent corn is native to Mexico, as are all varieties of corn which were domesticated by Native Americans long before the arrival of European settlers. Oaxacan Green Dent corn has been cultivated for centuries by the Zapotec peoples of southern Mexico who use it to make their distinctive green masa. It is a hardy plant known for its early ripening and may be planted in any climate where sweet corn is grown.