Jagung Ketan Hitam Corn
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Jagung Ketan Hitam consists of small to medium-sized cobs, averaging 17 to 22 centimeters in length, and have an elongated, cylindrical shape with slightly tapered, curved ends. The cobs are covered in 12 to 15 rows of oval to oblong kernels that are glossy, smooth, taut, and crisp. The kernels also display variegated hues of purple to dark purple, almost black, transitioning into shades of white where the kernel connects to the cob. Each kernel is known for containing high starch levels and low moisture, creating a dense, waxy, and plump consistency. Jagung Ketan Hitam has a neutral, subtly sweet flavor, and when cooked, the kernels become chewy, crisp, and creamy with a mild taste.
Jagung Ketan Hitam is available year-round.
Jagung Ketan Hitam, botanically classified as Zea mays, is a term used for purple pigmented corn varieties belonging to the Poaceae or grass family. The name Jagung Ketan Hitam roughly translates from Indonesian to mean “black sticky corn” and is a general descriptor that describes multiple, dark purple to black varieties of waxy, glutinous, or sticky corn. These corn varieties are favored for their high starchy content, developing a chewy texture once cooked. Jagung Ketan Hitam was introduced to Indonesia from China and was selected for its high antioxidant content due to the presence of anthocyanins in the kernels. The pigmented cobs are highly valued as rare corn in Indonesian markets, which usually sells sweet white and yellow varieties, and are purchased as a luxury culinary ingredient for their unusual appearance, nutritional content, and creamy consistency. Jagung Ketan Hitam is also increasing in popularity among growers as a potentially lucrative crop that can be grown in rotation with other vegetables.
Jagung Ketan Hitam is an excellent source of anthocyanins, pigments found in the kernels that provide anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits. The pigmented kernels also contain folate, a B vitamin that helps produce genetic material, fiber to stimulate the digestive tract, and vitamin C to strengthen the immune system while reducing inflammation.
Jagung Ketan Hitam has a neutral, subtly sweet flavor that can be utilized when young or mature in both raw and cooked applications. When fresh, the kernels can be sliced off of the cob and tossed into salads, or they can be mixed into side dishes, dips, and sauces. Jagung Ketan Hitam is also popularly steamed or grilled to retain its coloring and develops a sticky, chewy consistency. In Indonesia, the kernels can be mixed into porridges, soups, and stews, combined with rice and cooked into patties, mixed into puddings, or roasted and blended into drinks. In addition to main dishes, Jagung Ketan Hitam can be baked into muffins, biscuits, and bread, or the kernels can be dried, ground into a powder, and used as flour. Jagung Ketan Hitam pairs well with tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms, aromatics such as onion, ginger, garlic, and shallots, tofu, roasted meats such as poultry, beef, and pork, seafood, and herbs such as lemon basil, cilantro, and parsley. Jagung Ketan Hitam should be stored in its husk, where it will last for 3 to 7 days in the refrigerator.
In Bali, Jagung Ketan Hitam expanded in cultivation during the coronavirus pandemic as more farmers experimented with pigmented cultivars that contained added nutritional benefits. The dark purple, almost black kernels were widely promoted among seed retailers for their added antioxidant content. The kernels were also touted to be low on the glycemic index, helping maintain balanced blood sugar levels. With a cultural shift towards nutritious foods to boost the immune system during the pandemic, many farmers near the Bali city of Denpasar began growing the pigmented varieties, backed with support from the Denpasar City Agricultural Office. The corn trial fields proved to be successful, with farmers appreciating the variety’s short growth cycle and ease of cultivation. Bali consumers were also willing to pay higher prices for the rare nutritious crop, providing a greater income source for the farmers.
Jagung Ketan Hitam cultivars are descendants of ancient corn varieties created from hybridizing native species from South America, specifically Peru, with other grass family crops found wild in Central America. From the Americas, ancient corn varieties are heavily debated among experts as to their arrival in China. One theory suggests corn was introduced to China through Portuguese explorers in the early 16th century. The other theory hypothesizes that Chinese explorers visited the Americas sometime during the 15th century and acquired corn through their journey. Once the corn was introduced to China, scientists and breeders spent years naturally crossing and selectively breeding new corn varieties with improved characteristics. Black sticky corn was developed in the 19th century in China and was selected for the kernel’s subtly sweet taste and chewy consistency. Many varieties generally labeled as black or purple sticky corn were created over time and were released to neighboring countries for increased cultivation. Jagung Ketan Hitam became especially popular in Indonesia in the early 21st century, and the pigmented varieties are mainly grown on the island of Java and Bali. Jagung Ketan Hitam is rare in Indonesia, grown through select, small-scale farms, but outside of Indonesia, black sticky corn varieties are also found in China, South Korea, Japan, Vietnam, and the Philippines.
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