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Do you know about Glass Gem Corn?

Glass gem corn, known as “Indian” or “calico” corn, is a species native to North America. It is a type of multicolored flint corn (kernel’s hard outer layer) and is something of a cross between true, modern popcorn and parching corn. The size of ears ranges from 3 to 8 inches.

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Amazingly beautiful, unique, translucent, and multicolored corn became an internet sensation in 2012 when a photo of the sparkling cob was posted on various social media platforms. With its unreal shiny kernels glimmering like rare jewels, many people didn’t even believe it was real, and claimed it was photoshopped. Glass gem is real, not photoshopped nor genetically modified, and just a regular open-pollinated variety that looks more like pieces of jewelry than actual corn with different shades of pink, purple, yellow, green and blue.

What Is Glass Gem Corn?

Glass gem corn, known as “Indian” or “calico” corn, is a species native to North America. It is a type of multicolored flint corn (kernel’s hard outer layer) and is something of a cross between true, modern popcorn and parching corn. The size of ears ranges from 3 to 8 inches.

Glass Gem is also known as flint corn. The name “flint” comes from the kernel’s hard outer layer.

The jewel-colored ears need to be grown in a hot and dry environment. This type of corn can be harvested 110 to 120 days after planting.

History

The story of Glass Gem corn begins with an Oklahoma farmer named Carl Barnes. Barnes, who died in 2016, was half-Cherokee. He began growing older corn varieties in his adult years (no one is exactly sure when this began) as a way to reconnect with his heritage.

In growing these older corn varieties, Barnes was able to isolate ancestral types that had been lost to Native American tribes when they were relocated to what is now Oklahoma in the 1800s. This led to an exchange of ancient corn seeds with people he had met and made friends with all over the country.

At the same time, Barnes began selecting, saving, and replanting seeds from particularly colorful cobs.

Over time, this resulted in rainbow-colored corn.

In 2005, Barnes began growing larger plots of the rainbow corn near Sante Fe, alongside more traditional varieties. When the rainbow corn mixed with the traditional varieties it created new strains. Each year of successive planting, the corn displayed more vibrant colors and vivid patterns.

As he got older and knew he had to retire from agriculture, Barnes thoughtfully passed down his seed collection to his protégé Greg Schoen, who then shared the seeds with another fellow farmer, Bill McDorman, in 2008.

What does it taste like?

Unlike sweet corn, Glass Gem corn isn’t generally eaten off the cob. Most people grind it up into cornmeal and use it in tortillas or grits because it’s very starchy.

It can also be used to make popcorn (although it doesn’t come out rainbow-colored). To do this, the corn is harvested when it’s dry and brown. Kernels need a low moisture content to pop when heated. You can dry the corn further inside, with the husks removed, until the kernels fall off the cob. And for obvious reasons, Glass Gem corn is great for ornamental purposes.