Looking at an ear of corn, you might notice some dark blue stone-like fungus forming on it. This is something known as Huitlacoche. Rather than meaning that the corn has gone bad, it can sometimes be a cause for celebration. This is a beloved type of food in some parts of the world. So, what is Huitlacoche, and how do you use it?
What is Huitlacoche?
As we mentioned, Huitlacoche is a fungus that grows on corn. It has a few other names; it can sometimes be known as corn smut or Mexican truffle. This will be found on a range of above-ground corn varieties. It will be known for its shape. It can look a little like a tumorous growth. It will start silver. But over time, it will start to turn black. Eventually, the mold will rupture, releasing a black liquid, which can resemble ink.
While this isn’t as popular in the United States, in other parts of the world, Huitlacoche is considered a delicacy. For example, it is very popular in Mexico. In this country, it will be widely available. You will be able to find it in most market stalls. In this part of the world, corn smut is known as a gift from the gods. As a result, it can command an impressive market price. This article goes into more depth about the different ways that corn smut is perceived in the States vs Mexico.
How is Huitlacoche Made?
Like most types of fungus, this will be released through spores. These will travel along on the wind until they land on a suitable surface. In this case, they will land on corn. This is their cue to start germinating. Some people prefer to soak the corn in the spores before planting. This will guarantee that the plant starts to sprout Huitlacoche.
How Do You Use Huitlacoche?
Even though it is fungal growth, you’ll be able to eat Huitlacoche. It’s most common to use it in cooking. It is known for having a similar flavor to mushrooms, although it has been infused with corn overtones. It will also be soft. You should be able to use your fingers to pull it apart. When you cook the Huitlacoche, it will turn into a black color, which will taint the rest of the dish.
Multiple meals can be prepared using corn smut. They can be used in place of mushrooms in most recipes. For example, they can be used in tacos. To use them, all you need to do is add some salt and herbs, then sauté. If you want some ideas, check out these recipes.
When to Eat Huitlacoche?
Just like any fungus, it’s important to eat Huitlacoche at the right time. If you leave it too late, it could make you sick. The best way to tell when it’s time to harvest is by looking at the color of the fungus. You will want it to be dark blue. It should also have a slight give to it. It should feel the same as a peach. By the time it turns black, it should be avoided. The flavors will have faded.
How Do You Get Huitlacoche?
There are a few ways you can try this delicacy for yourself. First, you might want to buy it from a store. If you are in Mexico, you can do this at a market stall. If you are in the United States, you will need to visit a specialty store.
On the other hand, you can grow it yourself. To do this, you will need to soak the corn in the spores, then plant. This ensures that the fungus will germinate on the corn. When you start to see the fungus turning dark blue, it’s time to harvest. It’s best to do this by hand. This guide to hand garden tillers will tell you what to look for when choosing this tool.
To remove the fungus from the corn, you will need to use a pair of tweezers. If you get it when it is dark blue, it should be easy enough to pluck off. If you come to it later, you’ll need to use a little more force to separate it from the corn.
Once you have found a supply of Huitlacoche, you want to make sure that you are keeping it in good condition. The best way to do this is by putting it into the freezer. Make sure to keep it in a Ziploc bag. This will ensure that it doesn’t become moldy.
Huitlacoche is a delicacy, especially in Mexican countries. This is known for its rich flavors, tasting like a blend of mushrooms and corn. The good news is that it’s fairly easy to germinate this fungus. Because of this, you should be able to grow it at home. So, find some Huitlacoche and experience these delicious flavors for yourself.