What's The Difference Between White Corn And Yellow Corn?

Nothing says summer or backyard barbeques the way corn does. Scientists believe corn, or maize, was created by people living in central Mexico 7000 years ago. It was started from a wild grass called teosinte which is still grown in Mexico today. Eventually, people brought what we know as modern-day corn to North America (via Camp Silos). The first corn plants grown and harvested on the continent were very small. Corn quickly became a staple that could be used to make Johnny cakes, hominy, cornbread, and cornmeal mush (via Living History Farms). Today, more than 90 million acres of land in the United States are planted with corn, with the majority of the crop grown in the Heartland region (via USDA).

There are different types, varieties, and colors of corn, including the sweet variety. Yellow and white corn fall under this category, but are there greater differences between these two corns beyond their color? 

White corn is considered to be a grain, a fruit, and a vegetable. Originating from a dry seed that comes from the grass family, it is considered a grain, but because it is harvested before maturity, it is also a vegetable; and because corn is the seed-bearing part of a flowering plant, it's a fruit. Yellow corn is also considered to be a grain, a vegetable, and a fruit depending on its maturity and use (via Difference Guru).

White corn vs yellow corn

So what is the difference between white and yellow corn? The short answer is — not much. The greatest difference between yellow corn and white corn is the color, and to some degree, the taste. White corn produces sweet white kernels while yellow corn kernels have a hue that can be pale to dark yellow. This difference in color stems from yellow corn's beta carotene, which may give it the upper hand in nutritional value, as beta carotene turns into vitamin A during the digestive process. Yellow corn is also sweet, but there are firm believers who say it is not as sweet as white (via Epicurious). 

Some people believe the sweetness of the corn depends on if you buy it while it's in season. Peak season generally offers the sweetest and juiciest corn, but peak season also varies by region (via Southern Living). However, sweetness is actually determined by the variety of corn. According to The Kitchn, there are three types of sweet corn sold today that are divided by their level of sweetness. They are: normal-sugar, sugar-enhanced, and super-sweet (the last of which has three times the amount of sugar as the others). 

Still, white summer corn's sweet and delicate flavor makes it a favorite to use when making tamales, while yellow corn is popular for steaming and grilling, making corn tortillas, cereals, and cooking oil (via Difference Guru).