Glass Gem corn, the iridescent flint corn that looks like little jewels on a cob is both ornamental and edible. You wouldn't want to eat it straight off the cob but it grinds into perfect cornmeal and used for popcorn.
I was at my neighbour's house the other day dropping off some chives from my garden for her when I said something that felt a little ridiculous. Not Westboro Baptist ridiculous, just normal ridiculous. You may know the fun loving Westboro Baptists from their hit single, "God Hates the World" or one of their catchy mottos, "The Only True Jews are Christians" and "1, 2, 3, 4, God Hates the Marine Corps". They also hate "fags", flags, Catholics, the Pope, Barrack Obama, Sweden, Apple (even though they use iPhones), Leonard Nimoy, pink buses, life, death, air, rainbows and anti-psychotic medications apparently.
What I said to my neighbour was "this is a very busy time of year for me with the harvest and all". The harvest and all. Firstly, when did I learn to speak yokel? And secondly ... the harvest? I have a 20x40 foot community garden and a patch of front yard and I'm referring to "the harvest".
But I'm telling you now, with Sweden as my witness, every spare second I have at the moment is taken up by picking vegetables, storing vegetables, canning or otherwise preserving vegetables. The harvest.
One of the things I happen to be harvesting is Glass Gem corn. Reader Kat mailed the seeds to me last year. I didn't really know what they were at the time which isn't surprising since Glass Gem corn was only unveiled to the world in 2012.
Glass Gem corn is a variety that almost didn't exist. You see, years ago a part-Cherokee farmer in Oklahoma was known for being a bit of a corn breeding genius. His name was Carl Barnes. Carl mixed and matched and bred different varieties of corn. He planted and created corn that produced translucent, gem-like kernels. He did this for years until he was satisfied he had created a variety of corn that would reliably reproduce what he had in his head. A corn that looked like it was made up of translucent glass gems. Glass Gem corn.
When Carl started to get on (there's that yokel talk about), he passed his seed collection onto his seed saving protege Greg Schoen. Greg was the one person that Carl trusted with his decades of work. In 2010, while in the process of moving and not wanting to lose track of the thousands of seeds, Greg took a small portion of his collection to a seed saving institution, Seeds Trust.
Curious about these seeds, in 2012 someone from Seeds Trust planted a handful of them in their garden to see what this Glass Gem corn would look like.
They were stunned to find corn with see through kernels in gemstone colours. And every single cob was different. The company posted photos of the corn on their Facebook page and within hours the corn pictures went viral, crashing their Facebook page. EVERYONE wanted to buy the seeds. The problem was, there weren't any for sale.
Over the next couple of years Seeds Trust worked to produce enough seeds to be able to sell to the public.
I have no idea how my reader got these seeds, but I'm hoping she'll let us all know in the comment section. I take my seed responsibility very seriously so I'll be getting a separate garden next year just for my glass gem corn. I'm hoping to grow 100 plants.
If YOU want to buy Glass Gem corn, there are many places that sell it on Amazon.com but if I were you I'd buy it from the original source Seed Trust. By buying from them you'll be guaranteed you're getting a properly bred and selected seed.
I know you're all excited about the possibility of eating this now, but Glass Gem isn't an eat off of the cob type of corn. It's a grind into flour type of corn; a flint corn. Before you get too disappointed, there are 2 other things you can do with this corn. Use it for fall decorating because it's SO much more impressive than the regular Indian corn you can buy. OR ... and this is the fun part ... you can use it for popcorn.
Coming up on Wednesday I'll be showing you 4 ways to decorate with Indian Corn using my Glass Gem corn because no matter what Pinterest tells you, tying 3 cobs of Indian corn together isn't as easy as it looks. For real. Once Autumn decorating season is over I'll be removing the best kernels for seed saving and the rest will get put into a glass jar for popcorn.
Because who doesn't like popcorn?! Then again. Who doesn't like rainbows?
Did you ever read the story of jack and the beanstalk? This one is Karen and the corn kernels. Instead of selling my cow to the farmer, well, you get the drift. I ordered the some of them thar corn y'all
How beautiful and unique!
The topmost cob on the third photo looks like it's been glued of jelly beans, though.
That might be a substitute or Halloween decoration idea while I don't get hold of the seeds, tee-hee.
Thank you so much for the beautiful post! I am in Oklahoma and have to have this for next year!!
Off to order now...
Excellent! You'll love it, it's so much fun because EVERY cob is so different! ~ karen
Hi Karen! I got an order today and in the comments this lovely customer told me they heard about Glass Gem and Seeds Trust from your blog. THEN I got a phone call from another lovely customer who again let me know about you and your blog and I am SO PSYCHED about this. I am totally in love with Glass Gem, I am so so thankful that you linked to Seeds Trust in your post and I am also so glad about you totally nailing the history of this corn, which is so important. Your photos are GORGEOUS. I'm sending you a gift thank you package and spreading your blog to all my peeps! Thank you so much and I hope your harvest rocked this year. Also, I'm looking forward to your tips on decorating with Indian Corn :)
gratefully, Julia at Seeds Trust
Also, shipping aaaggghhh. Yes, an email or a phone call is so helpful if anyone is having issues 720-335-3436 firstname.lastname@example.org. My site is really old BUT I'm in the middle of building a new one in order to address these things once and for all. Black listed countries due to persistent and server-debilitating hacking attempts. I am going to take off the black listing and see how it goes. Another issue to be resolved with the new site, thankfully.
Holy crap. I am so glad I went back over this post and saw this one from Seeds Trust. I will try again to get me some purty corn seeds. I will then send some all the way over to the West Coast of Australia to my friend. That's if Quarantine doesn't microwave the life out of them on the way through.
I loved reading this post!
We know about the Westboro assheads here in Australia. We got a program called "The Most Hated Family In America".
Doncha just love how one little post can bring folk altogether as a commooonity. Goshdang it, makes my heart ache and ma houndog hump on ma leg extra happy.
"It's so strange. When I write things like this I feel as though I am just talking shit with my girlfriends and not holding back one bit."
Had to look at the colors again. I swear, the greens and browns look like agates. So, so pretty.
I know. The green is my favourite! ~ karen
I was one of the lucky early ones who was able to buy 50 seeds of Glass Gem. I've also visited Native Seeds in Tucson, AZ, where they're sold. I grew it in 2013 and everything about it was beautiful, including the support roots of the stalks. We popped it and truly, it's the best tasting popcorn I've ever had.
OMG! Gorgeous!! I can't wait to learn more about it. Thank you again Karen :0)
You're welcome Kim! I can't wait to take the kernels off and put it in a glass jar for popcorn! ~ karen
Thanks Karen for letting us know about this corn. I received my 5 packages for $25.00 and they readjusted the postage cost.
I can't wait to plant it though my husband is not happy at all. He was hoping that I would not plant corn next year as he got real sick of catching raccoons and moving them elsewhere. I think he got 7 or 8. lol
Tell me about it! You have to move them FAR away. And they're ANGRY, lol. I didn't have them this year but I have in the past. I'm thinking of doing an electric fence around my chicken coop and I know people also do them for around corn. You can run it off of a battery or solar charger/battery. Maybe it's something you'd like to spend your winter figuring out. :) ~ karen!
Sorry this is off the topic but I would love to have chickens so they can eat the thousands of bugs that drive me nuts and distroy my crops. I have 2 gardens (because of walnut trees) and thought I could put the coop in between and fence all around. We live in a hamlet and I believe animals other than cats and dogs are not allowed. Our neighbor rents out his pasture to a farmer so we have to put up with flies flies and more flies because of the cows. We understand it was grandfathered before this ruling and once the farmer stops putting his cows in the field no one else will be allowed. Something else I will have to look into just to make sure it is not just a rumor. I really want chickens!!! However I don't think I could afford the fencing as I have a really big garden. lol Have you grown Sweet Potatoes yet? Sorry I haven't checked your other blogs. This is my third year and I finally got enough worthwhile!
Yes, I've grown sweet potatoes for several years. If you search "sweet potatoes" in the search bar under the photo of me holding the fish all the posts will come up including how to start your own slips. I always get a good haul. This year I ended up with around 50 or 60 pounds but the tops were chewed off of a lot of them because of stupid voles. I'm curing them right now. Are you familiar with how to cure them so they taste sweeter and store longer? If not, there's a post on it, lol. Chickens are good with bugs, but I'm afraid the bugs will always win. :/ ~ karen!
Yes I just finished curing them, I got over a bushel full not sure how many pounds. I got in contact with a author of a book I bought by Ken Allen "Sweet Potatoes For The Home Garden" author. Green Spade Books. Kingston ON. 1998. 204pp. Available from Mapple Farm in New Brunswick or from himself.
He had told me that growing our own slips your yield would not be as much. Why he said that I don't know. However this year I tried growing my own slips plus I bought some from "Burt's Greenhouse" who Mr. Allen suggested. website http://www.burtsgh.com. The slips were more reasonable then elsewhere but the shipping was more expensive. The other new thing I did was to raise our horrible clay soil in rows which I think really did help. The slips I bought did way better then mine. lol Can't wait to taste them..later near Christmas. Thanks Karen you are probably right about the chickens and the bugs!
My slips grew fine and had good yields. Mapple farm is where I order my slips from normally so I ordered some from them as well as started my own. They all did about the same production as far as I could tell. So maybe you didn't start your slips early enough. You need to start them as early as March to get a good slip. :) ~ karen!
Yes Karen I did start them the first part of March however, I have only one window which is suitable to place them but the window has a draft. I even placed a towel down. They did not start to grow until I placed them in the porch the end of April when it warmed up. My first year I bought from Vesseys, 2 year I bought from Mapples and this year from Burts. I was impressed with Burts as the slips already had roots and looked healthier. Here is to Sweet potatoes!
I bought this from the Seed Trust and planted ir this year. It's about five inches high now. Hopefully it will make some corn
GMO in action.
It's too bad that the originators couldn't make it a varietal that you can put on the grill (or in the pot on the stove) and eat with a touch of butter.