There are more than 50,000 different varieties of maize that vary in color, shape, and size. Fresh sweet corn is great eaten raw. However, corn on the cob also tastes delicious cooked or grilled. Dried corn kernels are also coarsely ground to make cornstarch.
From Wikipedia: “Maize (/ˈmeɪz/ mayz; Zea mays subsp. mays, from Spanish: maíz after Taíno mahiz), also known as corn, is a large grain plant first domesticated by indigenous peoples in Mexico about 10,000 years ago. The six major types of corn are dent corn, flint corn, pod corn, popcorn, flour corn, and sweet corn.
The leafy stalk of the plant produces separate pollen and ovuliferous inflorescences or ears, which are fruits, yielding kernels or seeds. Maize kernels are often used in cooking as a starch.”
“Maize is widely cultivated throughout the world, and a greater weight of maize is produced each year than any other grain. In 2014, total world production was 1.04 billion tonnes, led by the United States with 35% of the total. China produced 21% of the global total.”
“In a 100-gram serving, maize kernels provide 86 calories and are a good source (10-19% of the Daily Value) of the B vitamins, thiamin, niacin, pantothenic acid (B5) and folate ... In moderate amounts, they also supply dietary fiber and the essential minerals, magnesium and phosphorus whereas other nutrients are in low amounts.”
“Maize and cornmeal (ground dried maize) constitute a staple food in many regions of the world.
Maize is central to Mexican food. Virtually every dish in Mexican cuisine uses maize. In the form of grain or cornmeal, maize is the main ingredient of tortillas, tamales, pozole, atole and all the dishes based on them, like tacos, quesadillas, chilaquiles, enchiladas, tostadas and many more. In Mexico even a fungus of maize, known as huitlacoche is considered a delicacy.
Introduced into Africa by the Portuguese in the 16th century, maize has become Africa's most important staple food crop. Maize meal is made into a thick porridge in many cultures: from the polenta of Italy, the angu of Brazil, the mămăligă of Romania, to cornmeal mush in the US (and hominy grits in the South) or the food called mealie pap in South Africa and sadza, nshima and ugali in other parts of Africa. Maize meal is also used as a replacement for wheat flour, to make cornbread and other baked products. Masa (cornmeal treated with limewater) is the main ingredient for tortillas, atole and many other dishes of Central American food.
Popcorn consists of kernels of certain varieties that explode when heated, forming fluffy pieces that are eaten as a snack. ...
Maize can also be harvested and consumed in the unripe state, when the kernels are fully grown but still soft. Unripe maize must usually be cooked to become palatable; this may be done by simply boiling or roasting the whole ears and eating the kernels right off the cob. Sweet corn, a genetic variety that is high in sugars and low in starch, is usually consumed in the unripe state. Such corn on the cob is a common dish in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Cyprus, some parts of South America, and the Balkans, but virtually unheard of in some European countries.”
“Maize is a major source of starch. Cornstarch (maize flour) is a major ingredient in home cooking and in many industrialized food products. Maize is also a major source of cooking oil (corn oil) and of maize gluten. Maize starch can be hydrolyzed and enzymatically treated to produce syrups, particularly high fructose corn syrup, a sweetener; and also fermented and distilled to produce grain alcohol. Grain alcohol from maize is traditionally the source of Bourbon whiskey. Maize is sometimes used as the starch source for beer. Within the United States, the usage of maize for human consumption constitutes about 1/40th of the amount grown in the country. In the United States and Canada, maize is mostly grown to feed livestock, as forage, silage (made by fermentation of chopped green cornstalks), or grain. Maize meal is also a significant ingredient of some commercial animal food products, such as dog food.”
“Starch from maize can also be made into plastics, fabrics, adhesives, and many other chemical products.
The corn steep liquor, a plentiful watery byproduct of maize wet milling process, is widely used in the biochemical industry and research as a culture medium to grow many kinds of microorganisms.
Chrysanthemin is found in purple corn and is used as a food coloring.”
“‘Feed maize’ is being used increasingly for heating; specialized corn stoves (similar to wood stoves) are available and use either feed maize or wood pellets to generate heat. Maize cobs are also used as a biomass fuel source. Maize is relatively cheap and home-heating furnaces have been developed which use maize kernels as a fuel. They feature a large hopper that feeds the uniformly sized maize kernels (or wood pellets or cherry pits) into the fire.
Maize is increasingly used as a feedstock for the production of ethanol fuel. Ethanol is mixed with gasoline to decrease the amount of pollutants emitted when used to fuel motor vehicles. High fuel prices in mid-2007 led to higher demand for ethanol, which in turn led to higher prices paid to farmers for maize. This led to the 2007 harvest being one of the most profitable maize crops in modern history for farmers. Because of the relationship between fuel and maize, prices paid for the crop now tend to track the price of oil.”
“Maize contains lipid transfer protein, an indigestible protein that survives cooking. This protein has been linked to a rare and understudied allergy to maize in humans. The allergic reaction can cause skin rash, swelling or itching of mucous membranes, diarrhea, vomiting, asthma and, in severe cases, anaphylaxis. It is unclear how common this allergy is in the general population.”