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  • Hopi Blue corn

    I have quite a lot of confusions in my mind about Hopi Blue corn. If it is genuinely the traditional corn of the Hopi Native Americans, it is according to Wikipedia a flint corn. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_corn)

    On the other hand, it is also described as sh2 on one or two sites, (https://www.gardeningchores.com/best...orn-varieties/) which in my mind suggests it’s a sweet corn. I had assumed that any variety with a Sh2 designation would be the result of relatively modern breeding. It’s possible of course that the Sh2 label is being wrongly attributed. If anyone has any understanding of this, that would be great!

  • #2
    Interesting topic Jang, thanks for starting the discussion. I believe you're correct in your assuptions that a Sh2 corn would be modern, as apparently the first introduction of this mutation was the early 1960s (Bourtard, Beautiful Corn, p. 44). He also mentions blue flour corn is used to make the traditional flatbread of the Hopi, 'piki'.

    Deppe briefly describes Hopi Blue and places it firmly in the flour corn category (The Resilient Gardener p. 276)

    Native Seeds Search describe it as a soft blue flour corn. https://www.nativeseeds.org/products/zf029

    The USDA also classes Hopi Blue kernels as floury (see under observation tab): https://npgsweb.ars-grin.gov/gringlo...ail?id=1142719

    Having just dissected a Hopi Blue seed I bought in the UK, it is indeed a floury kernel, rather than flinty.

    But there are many other native blue field corns that vary between flour and flint characteristics - "Rio Grande Blue Corn New Mexico Farming Conference" - maybe some strains of Hopi Blue have a proportion of flinty kernels?

    So I have to lean towards the likelyhood that the author on the linked gardening site made an error in this instance. I wonder if blue sweetcorn has been unscrupulously marketed as a native heirloom for wider appeal.
    Last edited by triffid; 26-04-2021, 13:10. Reason: whoops spelling error

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    • triffid
      triffid commented
      Editing a comment
      https://ethnobiology.org/sites/defau...iCleveland.pdf
      Section on blue corn from p.220 onwards mentions different varieties of Hopi blues, including a hard kernel type which I imagine is where the flint corn descriptions arise. In the days of hand grinding it was less popular than the soft floury variety, and the latter definitely appears to be more widespread.

  • #3
    Triffid, this is brilliant research on your part. Thank you so much for bringing those different resources together so effectively, most of which I had access to but certainly hadn’t got as far as distilling in this way. Your gathering together of references is enormously helpful.

    I shall expunge the Sh2 designation from my own little database. I think your suggestion that marketing has been at work here is likely to be spot on. What I’m unsure about is that I think you’re saying
    that a blue sweetcorn may have been marketed as Hopi Blue to give it heirloom appeal. Are there any blue sweetcorns? I’m not sure whether I’ve rightly understood the last sentence of your first posting here.
    I’m wondering whether alternatively the sweetness and palatability of Hopi Blue when young has been exploited to give it wider appeal as a supersweet variety. But then, if so, the assigning of the sh2 label would have been entirely cynical I assume.

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    • #4
      Honestly I was curious myself as I had my own doubts about the varying Hopi Blue descriptions I've encountered online in the past, so I'm really glad you brought it up. Can't believe the kernels grow after getting planted a foot deep.. amazing.

      Originally posted by Jang View Post
      What I’m unsure about is that I think you’re saying that a blue sweetcorn may have been marketed as Hopi Blue to give it heirloom appeal.
      Right, that's what I was implying - though it is purely conjecture, as I can't understand how or why it got categorised as a supersweet. The alternative in your last paragraph is perhaps more likely.

      I only know of 3 blue sweetcorn varieties - Hooker's Sweet Indian, Black Aztec/Black Mexican, and Blue Jade.

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      • #5
        Interesting. I didn’t know of Blue Jade which looks rather appealing but not easy to source. Have you grown it?

        Hooker’s Sweet Indian - thank you very much for the introduction to this variety - seems to have less evenly blue colouring but I look forward to experiencing it at first hand.

        The Hopi Blue we both have (mine was from Jungle Seeds) seems definitely to be a flour corn, but perhaps there are imposters floating around under that name, as you suggest.

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        • #6
          Haven't grown Blue Jade. Chiltern Seeds may have stocked it in the past (or was it 'Baby Blue') but unfortunately not this year. Hooker's was completely blue as far as I recall, the dry cobs that I still have are uniform at least - no different coloured kernels. It might be lighter than other blues at milk stage.

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          • #7
            I grew Blue Jade several years back, really short plants with quite narrow cobs. From memory, they didn't colour up until past fresh eating stage (but many coloured ones don't).

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