small squash on vine

The Case Of The Mystery Veggie And The Mutating Corn

Earlier in the growing season, we discovered a stray pumpkin plant growing amidst the corn. “What damage could it possibly do?” I wondered. The way I saw it was that it was just a little extra pumpkin that I hadn’t been planning on.

As the plant grew, I was more certain in my identification. The blossoms on the sprawling plant were large and orange just like a pumpkin or zucchini. When it began to produce, I first noticed a small, bright yellow, perfectly round gourd about the size of a golf ball, shattering my confidence in garden vegetable identification. Definitely not a pumpkin. As it continued to mature, it began to widen out at the center as pictured above. Now a week or two later, it has become more round again and is about the size of a softball.

I honestly haven’t the foggiest idea what type of plant this is, how to recognize it at maturity, what to do with it when it is mature,  or how it came to be growing in my garden. I imagine a little bird left it there, but what great aim it must have to have deposited it right into the garden!

Any guesses??

And does it make your corn do this?

My dear sweet corn has this awful fungus type growth that I can’t tell if it looks more like sweaty balled up socks or intestines. It’s creepy to be sure. There is a suspicion that it may be like that because of little hands peeling back the husk checking for if the corn is ready, but it’s just a hunch.

While drafting this post I wondered how would one go about Googling it? Corn with intestine fungus? Most likely one of the most unusual searches I would have ever done.

I decided to try it and don’t recommend it. It’s gross. Once I got past all the pictures of intestines and infected toenails, I saw one little image on page five that looked just like my corn. What we have is case of corn smut on our hands. Otherwise known as huitlacoche. And people eat it. Of course  if you’re going to serve it you might want to try calling it by it’s new name, “Mexican Truffle.” Oooh… swanky. According to the Corn Smut Wiki, high-end American restaurants are serving this dish that has it’s origins from the Aztecs. Farmers in Pennsylvania and Florida are intentionally trying to grow it for the restaurants. Thanks guys. I just wanted some sweet corn.

According to MSNBC,  corn smut is good for you!

For years, scientists have assumed that huitlacoche (WEET-LA-KO-CHEE) — a gnarly, gray-black corn fungus long-savored in Mexico — had nutritional values similar to those of the corn on which it grew. But test results just published in the journal Food Chemistry reveal that an infection that U.S. farmers and crop scientists have spent millions trying to eradicate, is packed with unique proteins, minerals and other nutritional goodies.

I’ll pass for now I’m just not that adventurous. Maybe in leaner times this could be useful information, however, if you’re game, you could try a recipe here.

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