Corn Smut (Ustilago maydis) 19 August 2011 Corn Smut (Ustilago maydis)

Being curious about the edibility of Corn Smut, it was decided to give it a try. In my garden there were four plants infected so these were tried first. The fungus was cooked in butter with garlic and onions and a tomato. It tasted just fine, but really did not give me the flavor of the fungus. The “nut”,my own description, reminds me of a mushroom only grown on corn.

I went to a commercial corn grower and asked to check their field of sweet corn. About a pound of Corn Smut was collected and cooked. This time the Smut was cooked in butter and a splash of soy sauce was added. I ate the half pound, and found it quite good. There was a slight corn taste and the texture was slightly chewy. It would probably make a nice side dish for a typical meal if cooked in the manner described. Apparently the product is touted to be nutritious. There are many recipes touting how to cook on the Internet.

Huitlacoche (WEET-LA-KO-CHEE),(also cuitlacoche), corn smut is highly rated and consumed in Mexico, and is being touted as a nascent gourmet food to the USA.

The membrane surrounding the “egg” if not broken makes for a quality “nut”. Spores form when the membrane is broken, but this portion my be cut away or even utilized.The spores remind me of the billions of spores that emulate from a puff ball,when dry. I will keep some spores and use them to inoculate my corn patch in 2012 to determine if quantity and quality of the smut can be increased.

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