Purple corn is cultivated in coastal areas, as well as in mountain highlands and valleys in Peru. A staple in the Incan civilization, purple corn almost became a lost crop, but luckily purple corn is still grown in Peru. This crop also thrives in South America as well as in American goods.

Purple corn is purple in color due to a deep vibrant hue derived from its nutrient-dense pigmentation. Scientists believe that the pigmentation development is attributed to something environmental in the soil, water, or climate of Peru, but the explanation is yet unknown. Mysteriously, purple corn will lose its color when planted in other countries, sometimes even presenting as yellow corn. One of the more popular uses for purple corn is in chicha morada, a brightly flavored sweet drink. It is used as a base for drinks, sorbets, puddings, and popsicles or used to make bread or pancakes.

Purple corn is full of antioxidants and phytonutrients, which helps to keep the body healthy and protect it from damage by strengthening the body’s immunity and decreasing the inflammatory response of inflammation-causing diseases. These antioxidants and phytonutrients protect the body from carcinogens such as prostate cancer and potentially prevent the development of colon cancer. They help to reduce the damage to cells, resulting in the decrease of risk of cancer cell formation.

It also has a particular phytonutrient called anthocyanins. This potent anti-inflammatory phytonutrient enhances memory, is anti-carcinogenic, and aides with cardiovascular health. Recent research has shown that dietary consumption of anthocyanins was associated with a 15% reduction in the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Additionally, purple corn can potentially reduce the risk of heart disease-most likely due to decreased coagulation of platelets and increased circulation of HDL cholesterol, and can prevent long term kidney damage in people with type 2 diabetes by protecting renal cells. Diabetes is often associated with ophthalmology complications, so these antioxidants help increase visual acuity and improve night vision. Purple corn also aids in regeneration of connective tissue and collagen formation for healthy skin, which is important for diabetes management.

Chicha Morada

chichamorada

Servings: 8   Serving size: 1 cup

Ingredients:

1 bag of 1-lb dried purple corn kernel bag

Peel & core of ½ pineapple

3 cinnamon stick

½ tablespoon cloves, whole

¼ cup coconut sugar, or sugar of choice

16 cups water

Directions:

  1. Place all ingredients in a large stock pot with a lid. Bring to a boil over high heat, then cover and lower heat to a simmer.  Simmer for 45 minutes.

*Note: In Peruvian cuisine, we add the peel of a pineapple (reserving the flesh for another use) to add some sweetness to the infusion, however this ingredient is optional.

  1. Strain liquid through a colander or sieve into a holding container. Cool to room temperature and then refrigerate until cold.
  2. Store in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks.

 

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